All in the Family

Couples Partner in Marriage and Business

John Coon

May 6, 2013

Their three children all have roles in the business. Ryan, the oldest son, puts his artistic talent to use as the head hand engraver. He creates designs that are engraved onto several Cannonball-designed saxophones by hand. Ryan supervises a team of six hand engravers and creates designs that all of the other engravers use.

Other relatives take part in helping to run the business as well. Striking a balance between family life and filling the needs of their customers is important. Keeping all family members equally committed to success of their business is important as well, and an essential element of their employment.

“We have a lot of extended family here,” Sheryl Laukat says. “It can get tricky because you want to make sure that you have a good relationship. You want to sit down at Thanksgiving dinner together and have it feel good. I would say don’t hire family as a favor because things can get sticky there. If it’s not working out, that would be really tough.”

A Family Affair

Working together as a family has brought one obvious benefit beyond simple business success for each of these couples. They get to spend more quality time with their families than working for another employer might afford.

“We have been able to go to 99 percent of everything that the kids have done at school,” Rena Peacock says. “Usually one parent might be able to go, but we’ve both been able to go to little school productions and other things. We haven’t been able to take big, long vacations like other people do, but the little day-to-day things we generally work around. To me, that’s the biggest plus.”

Running a family-owned business is more work than many full-time jobs entail. While these families have the luxury of being their own bosses, it is also on their shoulders to keep meeting payroll, supplying inventory, promoting their products and doing all the other things necessary to keep their businesses going from one month to the next.

Small business ownership can present a multitude of challenges. On the other hand, the rewards of doing it yourself and doing it well are much sweeter.

“It’s more work than you would ever imagine,” Natalie Jensen says. “It’s so big. But if you love it and it’s your passion, you make it work. You have to work hard at whatever you’re doing.” 


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