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Trade Tales: All in the Family
Sep 29, 2018
Staff

Family ties are tricky, and that’s before adding business to the mix. What’s good, bad and complicated about working side by side with relatives? And how do you draw the line between work and personal life? Peek behind the curtain at some of the industry’s favorite family businesses.

Arteriors

Dallas-based lighting and accessories purveyor Arteriors has grown from naming two of its collections after founder Mark Moussa’s children to bringing both on board—Tanner Moussa as senior designer and Mackenzie Moussa Lewis as a product designer.

Trade Tales: All in the Family

“The challenge is to be a professional, not a parent. Parents usually tell their child what to do, but as a professional, you partner with them, suggest, listen and advise.” —Mark Moussa

“It’s been a learning experience to figure out how to communicate as colleagues, rather than just as a big brother or a son. It’s a different way of speaking, emailing and addressing each other.” —Tanner Moussa

Tanner Moussa

“It is important to keep a professional environment and respect everyone’s roles, but it definitely took some time to get comfortable calling my dad ‘Mark’ in the office!”
—Mackenzie Moussa Lewis

Mackenzie Moussa Lewis


Currey & Company

Currey & Company was founded by Robert and Suzy Currey and has become a major player in the high-end lighting and furniture industry. The couple’s son, Brownlee Currey, took over the Atlanta-based business in 2010 after spending his career learning not only from his parents, but also from other company executives. 

Robert Currey
Suzy Currey

“Although Brownlee was around our business for most of his life, he also had the experience of working for others from the age of 14. Currey & Company has had a series of very capable senior managers as COOs and as CEOs who were not family members, and Brownlee reported directly to them, not to us. He earned their respect by accomplishment, not by being the son of the company’s founders.” —Robert and Suzy Currey

“Family businesses foster conversations about business that are unlikely to happen under other circumstances, which lead to a casual transfer of knowledge that is unique. My parents did a good job at the transition from one generation to the next. I didn’t ever presume that I’d be the one running the company one day; I worked my way through a variety of positions, which really allowed me a strong understanding of our operations.” —Brownlee Currey

Trade Tales: All in the Family


Stark

Luxury carpet and rug brand Stark is a resource to be reckoned with. Founded in 1938, the company is overseen by second-generation leaders Steven Stark, president, and John Stark, chairman, who have in turn proudly watched their respective children, Chad Stark and Ashley Stark Kenner, flourish in the business as senior vice president and creative director. 

John Stark
Steven Stark

“During the last year of his life, our father taught us about the industry and sourcing strategies. We came into the business during our college years, so we didn’t really have much time to think about a career. We learned on the fly as we grew the business. Today, we’ve learned to rely on Ashley’s creative instincts over our own, and to trust Chad to completely overhaul our IT infrastructure.” —Steven and John Stark

“We’re learning as we go. When we were doing a big showroom renovation in Costa Mesa, California, we could not agree on a budget. I think our fathers knew that we were going to go over budget no matter what, so they held a hard line in the sand. Fast-forward a few months and they were right, we did [go over budget], so it was good that we didn’t start with a higher one.” —Chad Stark and Ashley Stark Kenner

Chad Stark
Ashley Stark Kenner


Pembrooke & Ives

New York–based interior design studio Pembrooke & Ives was founded in 1987 by Andrew Sheinman. Today, his daughter Alexia Sheinman oversees branding and communications at the  57-person firm, which has completed luxury projects around the world.

Andrew Sheinman

“Alexia is both my harshest critic and biggest fan. She always gives me the unabashed truth. I’ve always shied away from marketing myself or my company, but she’s made me see that it’s not about ego—it’s all for the good of the company and our staff.” —Andrew Sheinman

“Being seen as the ‘next generation’ can be hard. When you come into a company that’s 30 years old, you have to respect that it must be doing something right. It has good bones, and you need to stay true to that while also staying current and preparing to bring the company into the next decade.”
Alexia Sheinman

Alexia Sheinman


Adriana Hoyos Furnishings

Adriana Hoyos launched her eponymous furnishings company in 1994 to complement her interior design studio. The Ecuador- and Miami-based company has grown to include upholstery, casegoods and home decor. The designer’s daughter, Andrea Pérez, recently joined the business as junior creative director. 

Adriana Hoyos

“Working with your family has many advantages, but it is not easy to separate the business from daily life. When something goes wrong, we all suffer! Communication and transparency are key. Everybody presents their ideas and points of view so we can get to a consensus.”
Adriana Hoyos

“When I design new products, my job is to depict the brand while at the same time adding a fresh touch. For a new buffet, I wanted to execute a funky concept for the doors, while my mother wanted something a little bit more conservative. She proposed that we produce both door designs and put them in our catalog, then monitor the sales results. In the end, her idea sold better, so we discontinued my idea, but I was glad she gave me the opportunity to try something new. Even though it wasn’t successful, it is always a learning process.” —Andrea Pérez

Andrea Perez


Skyline Furniture

Skyline Furniture is a 70-year-old manufacturing business based in Chicago and operated by CEO Ted Wecker. The company adopted the quick-to-market, e-commerce model for sales thanks to his daughter, third-generation company president Meganne Wecker. In 2016, she launched Cloth & Company, which creates on-demand pieces shipped in as few as six days.

Ted Wecker

“One of the hardest parts is letting the next generation to take the reins, especially when they want to alter parts of the company that perform well. When Meganne wanted to move into e-commerce, we had been successful selling at traditional brick-and-mortar outlets for years. Pivoting required significant changes to the business, but was one of the best decisions we’ve made.” —Ted Wecker

“Putting my lens on our business has been the most rewarding aspect of my professional life. My father and I are very different in our strengths and weaknesses, but we complement each other. He gave me the creative license to experiment with designing furniture, textiles and showrooms—which ultimately took the company in a different and successful direction.” —Meganne Wecker

Meganne Wecker


Dedar

Nicola and Elda Fabrizio founded the Milan-based textile house Dedar in 1976; their children, Caterina and Raffaele Fabrizio, have served as co-owners, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company since 1997.  

Elda Fabrizio
Nicola Fabrizio

“What was one disagreement and how did we resolve it? We have been lucky, thanks to the gradual growth of the company, that the complications [along the way] have been overcome without trauma—and without a formal handover.” —Nicola and Elda Fabrizio

“The secret to separating work and life is simple: We have different lives! Sometimes we go on family trips with grandparents and kids, and in these moments, we are just a family that is traveling together, sharing that pleasure for discovery and learning, food and jokes, textiles, rugs, jewels and furniture. We do not talk business. We live these trips in the moment. But [at work], it can be heavy when we disagree. Fighting with somebody who has been important throughout your entire life is sad and scary, especially [when faced] with the possibility [of] that disagreement carrying on. You have to bring up different opinions and find solutions; keeping it in does not help.” —Caterina Fabrizio

Caterina Fabrizio

“The decision to work in the company was born from a natural, logical—and also sentimental—path. How could you not be attracted by the beautiful materials, colors, and technical and aesthetic expressions? We have the biggest disagreements at lunchtime. For instance, Caterina prefers to walk to a trattoria, while I prefer to drive. But then we are promptly seated at the table at the same time. There are often two different ways to do the same thing.” —Raffaele Fabrizio

Raffaele Fabrizio


Élitis

When French fabric and wallcoverings company Élitis celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, the party was an international family affair, with Toulouse-based founder and creative director Patrice Marraud des Grottes welcoming his niece Julie Marraud des Grottes into her role as CEO and head of U.S. operations. 

Patrice Maurraud des Grottes

“Having family members involved in the company was not part of my original vision—at Élitis, we believe in competence and talent above all. For us, family inclusion evolved naturally, but somewhat unexpectedly. As the new generation comes in, it is important to find the right balance between passing on an invaluable savoir faire and integrating new approaches.”
Patrice Marraud des Grottes

"As a family member, it is harder to win legitimacy. But for me, the rules were very clear from the start: If it works, perfect; if not, we would go our separate ways. Assuming a leadership role always adds pressure, whether or not it is in a family business. What counts most is the people you surround yourself with. Being from the same family is wonderful, but what comes first is the Élitis family.”
Julie Marraud des Grottes

Julie Marraud des Grottes


PTM Images

PTM Images is a 24-year-old manufacturing firm (and partner for Badgley Mischka Home) owned and operated by Jonathan Bass. His daughter Lauren Bass joined the firm in 2015, transforming the established company into a family business. 

Jonathan Bass

“I always thought I would sell the business one day, but when Lauren joined, I could visualize the growth of the company beyond my lifetime. If she learns the business and makes a few more right decisions than wrong ones, she could lead the company into the next generation. But for her to do that, I need to let her make, and learn from, her own mistakes. I can’t be a helicopter parent or boss. When we disagree, it’s usually about how to handle a situation. She will fight like a millennial until you can prove her wrong…but sometimes she can prove you wrong. I’ve learned to accept that she may be 25 years old, but she can be right.” —Jonathan Bass

“Working with my father has been an amazing opportunity. He has taught me the tricks of the trade that he had to learn the hard way. One of the biggest challenges for me has been to prove that I was not hired because we are related. He’s spent his whole life building an incredible operation and wouldn’t allow me to take on responsibility if I was not fit for the job. I have to work hard to earn respect.” —Lauren Bass

Lauren Bass


A. Rudin

A. Rudin is a fourth-generation manufacturing company based in Los Angeles, where owner Ralph Rudin works with his two sons—Spencer Rudin, who serves as vice president of sales and marketing, and Evan Rudin, who is the vice president of visual communications—to create custom furniture and other products.

Ralph Rudin

“It is wonderful to see and interact with my sons daily. They are incredibly inventive, and I learn from their ideas and input constantly. It’s exciting to take what my grandfather and father built and adapt it to modern methods and new ideas.” —Ralph Rudin

“I can’t close my eyes without thinking about our business. We can finish each other’s sentences and almost know the exact answer we’ll get before it’s delivered...We’ve always felt that the A. Rudin brand is part of our DNA.”  —Spencer Rudin

Spencer Rudin

“Family businesses have the ability to make decisions more efficiently than other companies. If there’s a problem, a whole committee isn’t always necessary to find and execute a solution.” —Evan Rudin

Evan Rudin

Portraits: Currey, & Company, courtesy of Currey & Company. Pembrooke & Ives, Dustin O’Neal. John and Steven Stark, Andrew Werner. Chad Stark, Genevieve Garruppo. Ashley Stark Kenner, Brittany Ambridge. Adriana Hoyos, Juan Pablo Merchán. Nicola and Elda Fabrizio, courtesy of Dedar. Caterina & Raffaele Fabrizio,  Max Zambelli. Patrice Marraud des Grottes, courtesy of Élitis. Julie Marraud des Grottes, Ayano Hisa. A. Rudin, Sam Frost.

This article originally appeared in the Business of Home Fall 2018, Issue 9. Download the issue or subscribe.
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Currey & Company
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Arteriors Home
Design Management Company
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PDF Systems, Inc.