The trucking industry seems to be full of family businesses. I am not sure why this is, but I do have my thoughts why there are so many. Do they succeed? Would their business be more successful if there were not family members involved? Who knows? Maybe their business would not be as successful.
At KRTS, we have four family members – all of our immediate family; myself, my wife Lisa, and my son Matt and daughter Jamie. It is an interesting dynamic for sure. I know this scenario has its pros and cons, good times and bad, ups and downs.
I am sure there are some family businesses that are more successful than others, financially as well as culturally. Of course, there is always the question of what others who are not family members feel about working with and in a family business. Speaking from experience, those who are not family at our business understand the dynamic. I think much of this has to do with how we act and communicate with our associates and customers.
Of course, we have had our trials and tribulations over the years being a family business. We have learned to adjust, learned how to tweak the recipe for success. For the most part, it is about painting a clear picture – Lisa and I are the shareholders, and at the end of the day, we make the final decision. Often with consultation from our team – sometimes the right decisions, sometimes wrong. What is important is the understanding and respect, not just for family members who toil every day in the business, but the entire team. Clarity, communication, structure and accountability – this starts with family members here at KRTS and it resonates to other team members, our extended family. Together, we all make it happen.
A few things I have learned over the years and try to practice:
- Time outs are important. When/ if things get heated or confrontational – take a break.
- No business activity is more important than family. Owning a family business (together) has allowed us plenty of opportunity over the years to put our family first.
- Show the same respect for your family at work as you do at home and around your friends.
- Personal finances are personal finances. Don’t get caught up in using your personal finances to assist the business. It has to stand alone – or shouldn’t stand.
- Unless it is an emergency – no shop talk at home.
- Check in often with your family members on a business level. You do this with the rest of your team, so don’t forget your own family. Make sure to ask – how they are doing? Are their goals being met? Do they like what they are doing? Are they are looking for more challenges?
- Enjoy the ride – take time for coffee, go out for lunch, enjoy conventions and industry functions together. We are all proud of our families, so “show them off”.
I am a very lucky man. I have a terrific business and life partner. Lisa is a great compass for me and is there to listen and share an opinion. Matt is learning every day and continues to take on new challenges. Starting in March, Matt will officially be KRTS’ Sales and Operations Manager, a position that better reflects what he does day to day. Jamie continues to grow in her position as well. She is spending more time with me in corporate sales and with our e-zine, The Rear View Mirror.
None of this – and I mean none – would be possible without our great team at KRTS who understand the dynamics of a family business and contribute daily to our success – they help us be the best at what we do. We also owe our success to our customers who are confident in our company and trust the direction we are heading. The problem with family businesses is no different than problems with any business – pay attention, respect what you have, work daily at the relationship and there will be no problem.
Take care, stay in touch.
About the Author
Kim Richardson is a husband, proud dad, friend, loves Caledonia, and is involved in a couple of businesses, KRTS, Transrep, The Rear View Mirror. Currently the Chairman of the Board OTA Allied Trade Division. Executive Director, PTDI and TTSAO. Anyone who knows Kim knows he has been in the industry and transportation runs in his blood. Kim can be reached through his business websites at KRTS Inc, and Transrep Inc, Kim Richardson on Linkedln, firstname.lastname@example.org