Winnipeg Business Scene
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS – Saturday, January 18, 1992 – D3
One of the unique features of the Winnipeg business scene is the preponderance of private, family-owned businesses.
That phenomenon, as much as any other single factor, distinguishes the city's business climate.
However, that factor also becomes one of the most important sources of structural and management problems.
The Canadian Association of Family Entrepreneurs (CAFE) is a six-year-old organization set up to deal with issues peculiar to family businesses, such as succession planning and organizational planning.
This week, an expert in what might normally be referred to as "conflict resolution" gave a seminar to Manitoba CAFE members on creating family councils.
Aron Pervin runs an organizational consulting business out of Toronto exclusively for family businesses. Pervin's background is as diverse as the kinds of problems that can arise when family and business matters are constantly inter-meshed.
His main function, he believes, is to help people communicate more effectively.
"I bring up issues that the family members just can't," Pervin said. Things like, "why should we be paying a family member when all he seems to do is go golfing?"
Pervin lays out the issues that may be understood intellectually by family members but which aren't broached because of family dynamics. He says in the family structure, "Dad always knows best," whereas a business person's attitude is, "I'm not going to trust anyone."
Pervin states the obvious in that the family system always prevails. However, when personal family matters are mixed up with business concerns, the unspoken family issues suddenly become business issues that have to be discussed.
"For example," Pervin said, "Families are not brought up to talk about money." But at some point a family member's participation in the business world will become embarrassing when he or she doesn't even know what volume of sales his family-owned business does.
The fact that the energetic Pervin, who refers to himself as a pioneer, is able to keep a growing practice in the field is probably sufficient evidence that family matters as they relate to business are more significant than business consultants had formerly cared to think.