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Pervin Family Business Advisors

Profile of Aron Pervin

Consultant Smoothes Out Rough Spots

THE WINDSOR STAR – Lifestyles – Thursday, April 21, 1994

A consultant who helps family businesses says he's not so much a referee as a coach.

Called in to help families with business problems, Aron Pervin views his work as helping the family business do what it does well even better.

He guides them through their egos, emotions and personalities so they can work through situations and get on with running the business the best they know how.

He sees all kinds of scenarios and stereotypes played out in families who operate businesses – the firms are as diverse as the owners.

In his 12 years specializing in family businesses, the certified management consultant with his own firm Pervin & Company, based in Toronto, has seen more than a little of what can work and what doesn't.

Often, he says, problems arise from lack of communication, mainly by parents who simply can't or don't listen. For their part, the grown children may commonly have unresolved and/or unrealistic expectations about the family business. They may have a sense of entitlement, unjustified by their lack of competency, skills and/or contribution.

Resentment can build on both sides, business suffers, problems only grow worse. And sometimes, people like Pervin may come in to sort things out.

"It's funny how many families have someone who's a Ghengis Khan. And many families have someone who still thinks he or she's on an allowance."

It's a career that constantly intrigues, he says, but he admits he's no magician: "If the business is in a real mess, I can't help them. With all of the families I deal with, I try to help them get better at what they already do well."

Like a good consultant, he knows when to leave – and that he must. He says his reward is seeing situations finally resolved in the family's capable hands.

Usually, there's an immediate problem, an estate plan or a plan to transfer the business. Then, he gets into underlying issues that have to be dealt with in order to solve the situation.

Pervin says the Canadian Association of Family Enterprises (CAFE) provides an excellent resource for family members involved in business. It represents 600 businesses and provides help, specifically for family members and their businesses. CAFE's office telephone number is (416) 940-9646; the address is Canadian Association of Family Enterprises, 7100 Woodbine Ave., Suite 310, Markham, Ont., L3R 5J2.

Here are more tips from Pervin:

"Just because they're talking about the business, doesn't mean they're talking about their relationship to each other."

– Aron Pervin

The family structure can work differently than the business structure, Pervin says. In business, differences are valued, everybody makes a contribution.

Everyone must feel they can offer something and feel comfortable about speaking out. "You gotta learn to fight fair. You have to accept the person for what the person is."

"What most couples find is they do nothing else but talk about the business. So they have rooms where they just never talk business."

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