Molding a successful family business, 50 years on: Page 3 of 3

December 14, 2017

Now that the third generation has entered the business, the role they want to play and the goals they would like to achieve are going to be different from the second generation. How do they find their niche? It comes down to knowing themselves . . . what their abilities are. “If your desire is beyond your skill level, that’s a problem,” said Tim. “I guarantee you that the second and third generation will see things differently and run things differently. Andy sees things differently than Eric and I do. He has different ideas, and we can’t dismiss the ideas but we can hold him accountable for the results. It’s results driven, not process driven. If Andy realizes he’s going down a wrong road, the results will show that to him. I’m not going to ask him to do something just because we’ve always done it that way. But there has to be a good reason for doing it differently. We look at the data and make decisions based on experience and what’s best for the company.

“That allows them to do what they want and be themselves, but it also allows them to learn the lessons of their decisions—to be successful or to fail in some aspect—but it’s a lesson nonetheless.”

Tim acknowledges that the goals and desires of millennials are different than his and Eric’s were at the same age.“Back then we could come into the business and earn a living with a high school education,” Tim said. “We weren’t forced to go to college, but now college has become the new high school. They also have debt when they enter the workforce—we didn’t.”

One of the challenges of working together in a family business is that it’s too easy to get personal. “When you make it personal, everything starts to go sideways,” said Tim. "The most important thing is keeping the family intact. It’s a blessing to have a successful business, but family is a bigger blessing.”      

The entire Peterson family is grateful for their 50 years in business and they want to continue to see both companies grow and provide good jobs. Jack Peterson comes around now and then just to say ‘hi’ to everyone. Tim said his father still cares about the business and the people who work there, but is enjoying his retirement.

Andrew’s personal goal for the company is to continue to see it grow and provide good jobs for people in the community. “Look at all the people who’ve worked here over the years,” he said. “We want to continue that. We’re pretty excited about 50 years. I hope there are 50 more.”

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