517 Magazine Days of Giveaways

A Family Affair

Melding the work-life balance has advantages It was never a calculated approach on my part, but it makes sense that members of my family have come to play integral roles in the …

Melding the work-life balance has advantages

It was never a calculated approach on my part, but it makes sense that members of my family have come to play integral roles in the business I started in 2002. It almost seems like it’s something that is hardwired into my genetic makeup.

I come from a long-standing line of family-run businesses, going back to several owned by my grandparents. The earliest was a small grocery store, which my grandfather and grandmother lived above. I remember walking to the store from school in my early elementary years, sitting behind the counter, and watching and marveling as they ran the business.

In his later years, my grandfather owned a trucking company, with my grandmother working in the accounting office and two uncles serving as drivers. My parents also, at one time, ran a motel together. It seems like I’ve always had a connection to firms and fields that had deep familial bonds, and Sunday dinners always seemed to spark with activity revolving around discussion and debate of business-related issues.

There’s something abstractly comforting about having family around you in the workplace. It brings a reassuring sense of trust knowing that these people are there, encouraging you and supporting you yet also providing a balance to some of your more misplaced impulses.

My husband, Pat, does that for me. We tend to take opposite approaches to issues and formulate views from differing points of origin. It helps me take new perspectives into consideration and make more well-rounded business decisions.

We are dedicating this issue of Greater Lansing Business Monthly to family businesses. The Lansing area is home to companies large and small that are driven by family ties, but the mid-Michigan region is not unique. These types of businesses form the backbone of the nation’s economy, with the U.S. Census Bureau reporting that family firms comprise 90% of all business enterprises in North America.

That doesn’t mean that being a part of a family business is always days of wine and roses. There are occasional drawbacks that pop up from time to time. Work talk can become a dominating force, which is something to which I must plead guilty. I love to talk strategy – where we should be, how we should get there – but sometimes you have to step away for the sake of your personal time, personal life and personal sanity.

Yet any flaws are minor in comparison to the contentment and the satisfaction that building and creating something together brings. The thing I love is being able to see the people I care about the most on a day-to-day basis. It makes me feel connected because they are always included in my personal sphere.

I am lucky.

Tiffany Dowling

Publisher

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