On Father's Day, the legacy of Dad can be particularly special for families who work in a family-owned business, like Carroll Water Systems.
The company, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary, has taken on a new life with the addition of three out of seven of owner Ron Smith's children.
About three years ago, his oldest son Brian was named vice president of the company. Eric is a technician that works on treating and delivering water to families around the county. Will is a sales coordinator. Brian's wife, Rachel, is a receptionist.
"Each one of the boys has their own separate talents, which is a really good thing," Ron Smith said. "It's kind of like a marriage, each person brings different strengths to the table."
The company doesn't just employ family members, though. Of the 25 employees, a few are family. Neither of Ron's two eldest daughters chose to go into the family business, although one did work there for a few summers. His youngest children are still too young to work at Carroll Water Systems, he said.
Studies on family businesses are few and far between on the national level, and nonexistent on the county or state level. Family businesses aren't necessarily small businesses, and family businesses can range from retail to restaurants to construction.
Still, family-owned businesses make up a significant portion of the economy.
A 2012 study from the Boston Consulting Group found that family businesses, meaning with more than one member of the family in management, account for more than 30 percent of all companies with sales in excess of $1 billion.
A 2011 article from the Small Business Administration cites that family-owned businesses account for 90 percent of businesses both large and small in the United States.
Keeping the family involved in the business has helped Ron on numerous levels, he said. They take vacations all over the United States during water conferences, and in recent years, Brian has helped bring a fresh eye to the business.
While Ron said he isn't ready to hand in the keys just yet, recently he's begun to work on a succession plan.
"I've felt after 30 years, I've pedaled the bike this far, it's time to let somebody else pedal the bike," he said. "I'm ready for some different approaches."
The company has undergone a recent rebranding and the offices are getting a facelift. After a few slower years during the recession, the company has started to expand more on the water treatment side, Brian said. With the green movement taking off, people want better water, he said.
Stuart Welsh, a business adviser with B2B CFO in Columbia, said about a quarter of his clients over the years have been family businesses. The greatest challenges he sees are creating the proper expectations within the family and placing the right people in the right positions.
"Even though it is a family business, it [has] to be run like a business to survive and prosper," Welsh said.
Brian said in their experience, it's important to keep business separate from the family.
Of the family employees who work at Carroll Water Systems, only Will had aspirations to do something else. Will said when he went to college, he wanted to travel and be a linguist. After several people close to him passed, he realized that family was more important, he said.
"You get to be with your family all the time. My dad used to work long hard days and he'd get home really late, but now I'm there with him, working," he said.
In some ways, the benefits are also the negatives. A family vacation is a business vacation, Will said. Working with family can be stressful at times, Brian said. But at the end of the day neither would change it for anything, they both said.
While his sons and daughter-in-law all work at the company, Ron said it's important that he continues to teach his children responsibility.
"They're not just here because they're another pretty face. They're held accountable because they do what they need to do," Ron said.
At a surprise party to celebrate 30 years of Carroll Water Systems, Ron said that he'd like to leave a legacy to his children. His business is that legacy, he said.
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"When you work for the family, for the family business, you work for one cause," Ron said. "That's to benefit the family in the long run, as a whole."