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All in the Family

You have a family business, so let’s talk family

CHICAGO — When asked in this May 2019 American Drycleaner Your Views survey to tell us: “Are you a family-owned dry cleaner?” 95% responded “Yes,” and 5% “No.”

The survey then asks: “If you are family-owned, how and when did you start?”

Respondents answer:

  • “A father-son team purchased the business together for current ownership but we have been family owned since the 1940s.”
  • “Three brothers born to immigrants from Greece began business together in 1946.”
  • “I started when I was 17 years old when I helped press shirts and dry clean at my fathers plant — that was 59 years ago.”
  • “Started full time in 1971 from college to help out my mother. I had worked during holidays and weekends over the prior years. Took over in 1972 upon my mother’s passing.”

The survey also asks: “Tell us what generation owner you are?” Fifty-one percent are first generation. Thirty-four percent are second gen. Twelve percent are third gen. Three percent are fourth generation. See graphic.

The survey then asks: “What is the key to continuing your family ownership?”

Respondents explain:

  • “Hard work and open-mindedness. A family that works together needs to allow differences to pass.”
  • “It’s mostly been luck in our case. We were all exposed to the business early in life and helped out to earn pocket change.”
  • “It will not go to any of my three sons. All three have worked the counter during college and are not interested in the business.”
  • “Accepting the responsibility after living the truth.”
  • “Productive fights.”
  • “Still trying to figure that out honestly.”
  • “I’m training my kids to take over. It’s not easy if your kids don’t like the biz, but my luck is good, my kids like to continue, that’s a blessing.”
  • “Loving what you do.”

The survey then asks: “Will there be a next generation owner in your family?”

Respondents share:

  • “Not sure yet, my children are too young. Time will tell; part of me hopes so and, speaking honestly, part of me hopes not.”
  • “Yes but doesn’t want it.”
  • “I am third generation and plan to take over when my father retires.”
  • “Possibly, but right now I would say doubtful. I think my father would have said the same thing....”
  • “That’s the plan.”
  • “Unlikely.”
  • “My kids don’t want to work that hard and I doubt that the industry will survive 10 more years.”
  • “Yes, both owners have children that may continue in their fathers’ footsteps.”

The Your Views survey offers a current snapshot of the trade audience’s views. Qualified subscribers to American Drycleaner e-mails are invited to participate anonymously in the unscientific poll.