Growing up in a family business truly does mean growing up WITHIN it. Your supper table may include family discussions of product development, out of stock items, human resource situations…etc. Family vacation may include sales associate meetings while standing in the ocean at the beach. Family business means getting up when ADT (our alarm system) calls and going in the middle of the night with your dad to walk around the building to see what is going on. Family business may mean sitting on the floor of the warehouse collating catalogues while you wait for your mom to be done with work and drive you home.
Family business is getting up at 2am when the sprinklers have gone off in the manufacturing building and addressing a fire, cleaning up water, and helping as much as possible before going on to high school class in the morning. By five in the morning the majority of our employee family were in the building had contacted one another and were all there helping clean up as much as possible and addressing what needed to be addressed to get us back to full functioning again.
My mom jokes that if it takes a village to raise a child, then my brother and I have a ginormous village. As I have grown and matured, faced college, and seen more of our impact in the community this village has become more apparent. Of course in the workplace I have an incredible support group amongst my co-workers, some of which have watched me grow up from third grade. This village is however much more broad. I have found this village spans to being able to walk into a store anywhere in the country and talk with an owner who sells our chimes and learn the best places in town to eat, or talk about my career path and gaining insight from other professionals in my life. Our village includes some customers talking with my brother about flying and talking with him on a one on one basis about his own passions rather than just about a windchime order.
Family business is walking into AP US history class your junior year and your teacher looking at you and asking if you had been attending “out of school educational resources.” I will never forget Robert Watters of Osbourn Park High School pointing out my chamber of commerce badge and having me share with the class one thing I had learned at the Women in Business Chamber of Commerce event that my mom had taken me out of school for. After this event I did make sure to take of my badge before walking into class.
When driving to the showroom and bickering in the car my mom would turn around and remind us we only had a few more minutes to bicker. At a young age we would walk into showroom booths and become “coworkers” instead of being brother and sister. When working in a family business we promote our tight knit bond but we also function with professionalism and cooperation in mind. Learning to address one another and embrace each other’s strengths we have grown to know each other as adults in a unique manner. My brother is very straight minded, he likes working with customers who come in knowing exactly what they want and there was a point when growing up that he had more tradeshow experience and therefore I had to swallow my pride and ask for his input when answering questions. I am a natural talker and can draw customers in and create a personal bond. We both have strengths but as coworkers we have learned to draw on trusting one another, weighing what is beneficial for all, where to use our strengths and balance where we are most helpful, and betting friendships and customer satisfaction in the showroom.
Family business is having a product line that benefits charity for Breast Cancer that was designed in honor of my grandmother’s triumph over Breast cancer. Three generations of Baisdens are in the product line promotional photographs and this line has a personal tie to the family. Those who hear the story often comment on the personable and family influence that is present in our business. Tangible connections make the meaning of these chimes more substantial to those who have given us feedback. Our personal connection seems to influence the personal connection that others have with this line.
Yes sometimes having a family business does make one wish for an “off” switch. Yes some days you wish your supper conversation could be about anything except the business. Inevitably some days you just want to go to the middle of nowhere, with no contact, and just have one day with no questions to answer and nothing to do. Some days will be like that. Some days you will have something unexpected happen and you will find you have sixty plus employees engaged in helping you, supporting you and coming together in strength. One day as a college student just home for the summer you may go into a coffee shop, start casual conversation with a fellow patron, and end up with the patron in tears explaining that every Christmas while working with us, they had a family for a few hours during our company Christmas party.