In honor of Father’s Day, seven companies with multi-generational staffs share the secrets of working with family and the best business advice they’ve ever received.
ALTERNATIVE EYEWEAR/PLAN “B”
President and CEO Paul Storace is at the helm of this 15-year-old company that offers 11 fashion collections and a staggering number of SKUs, with his daughter, Cassandra Slepian, who serves as marketing manager.
Schools of thought: “I have a background in history and English. I went to McGill, and I just recently acquired a diploma in Business Management. So I hail from the real ‘scholarly’ point of view, whereas for my father, everything he has, he built for himself. He is a true entrepreneur. So it’s street smarts meets book smarts from a working relationship point of view. It works because we’re coming from different perspectives.”
Drawing the line: “We both know when it’s time to talk business and when it is not. Sometimes the most relaxing family moments are when we have [great]discussions regarding the business and its future. And sometimes when we’re having difficult work moments, we’re able to step back and be dad and daughter. It’s complicated but I feel we navigate it pretty well.”
Learning from elders: “I know I can pick his brain on lots of different things without feeling like I’m bothering my boss. Basically it allows me to learn things from a real-world perspective.”-Cassandra Slepian
888.399.7742 • alternativeeyes.com
CLEARVISION OPTICAL CO.
Founded by Fred Friedfield in 1949, ClearVision has evolved into a major player in the industry. As one of three generations of Friedfelds working at the company today, Peter Friedfeld, executive vice president, knows quite a bit about making business and familial relationships work at the office.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: “First and foremost is respect of the individual: their ideas and their contributions. We recognize that elder generations have a historic perspective and experience they can uniquely offer, while younger generations have fresh ideas, a different way of thinking and communicating, and a unique sense of what is relevant.”
Finding their fortes: “I think each of us brings our own passion into ClearVision, so we get to incorporate what we would possibly do ‘outside’ the company into our daily work. For Peter, it would be marketing or architecture. For David [president], it would be mentoring/teaching. For Mimi [co-founder], it would be creative arts. As for Fred [founder], he loved sales and people-
a natural salesman.”
Words of wisdom: “[My dad] said, ‘The customer
is right.’ It’s simple, but it’s a winning strategy.”
800.645.3733 • cvoptical.com
EASTERN STATES EYEWEAR
The Shyer family brings 80 years of melding personal relationships with business at Eastern States Eyewear. Jason Shyer, managing director and a third-generation in the business, shared some of his family’s key strategies (as well as a real “Who knew?” bit of trivia).
Feeling at home: “We believe in having a supportive, optimistic environment, and it’s important to us that every employee should get a strong, family feeling about being here.”
Agree to disagree: “Communication is a vital part of any strong business relationship. The most important thing is to always maintain a respect for a diverse set of viewpoints. It’s a matter of not having 40-plus years of father-son, brother-brother dynamics get in the way of intelligent disagreements.”
In another life: “We’d probably all be struggling musicians. I would be angling for Iron Maiden to take me on as another guitar player.”
Words of wisdom: “Felix Perry, [a former VP], may he rest in peace, once said to me, ‘You can be correct, but it doesn’t necessarily make you right.’ In a world with a lot of gray area, I find that statement more and more accurate.”-Jason Shyer
800.645.3710 • eseyewear.com
In 1915, Hyman Moscot, an Eastern European optician, laid the foundation for his eponymous optical shop. His son, Sol, became one of the first registered opticians in New York, and Sol’s son Joel entered the business as an optician. Moscot’s fourth generation revealed itself when Harvey, Moscot’s first optometrist, and Kenny, a visionary with a business degree, came aboard. Zachary, Harvey’s son, is now an integral part of the enterprise. He shared his thoughts on his family’s legacy.
Talking shop: “Rarely do my father and I not talk shop, given the amount of time we spend together both in and out of the office. We live it, breathe it, sleep it! And we wear it! That’s our trick.”
In it for the long haul: “Most people are surprised by the longevity of our family business. When people hear we are a five-generation family business in New York City and have been in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for over 100 years they almost fall off their chair!”
Words of wisdom: “My now-retired grandfather
Joel often tells me, ‘Keep your father relaxed and calm!’ When I work with my father, I am reminded to go
beyond the business partner role, to play the role of his son. This includes cracking jokes and maintaining a sense of family and familiarity. He does the same for me.”-Zachary Moscot
866.MOSCOTS • moscot.com
When CEO Mike Hundert became part of REM Eyewear in 1981, he was the fifth employee at a company that comprised four family members and Joan Struck, who still works in customer service today. (The family acquired the company in 1971.) Hundert provided insight about his personal/professional network.
Secret to success: “My sister Donna [Gindy, COO] and I share the perspective that if you help people be successful, they will help you be successful in turn. We have goals, but they are not driven by the quarterly numbers to which many companies are subjected. That allows us more to fully focus on the long term.”
Friends forever: “We’ve been blessed with sharing great friends, many of whom are also family business owners in our industry, including Peter Friedfield (ClearVision) and Jamie Shyer (Zyloware). We share mini vacations en route to foreign trade shows and have been on [more than 20]trips together throughout Europe, over nearly 20 years.”
Words of wisdom: “Our father, [founder]Gerry Hundert, has been a constant fountain of advice for Donna and me. Still, at 90 years old, he comes to the office four days a week-never meddling, but always available for a point of view. He taught me the fundamentals of business, starting with building authentic relationships with stakeholders based on fairness and honesty. Our mother, Shirley, made sure we kept customer service at the top of our pyramid of importance.”-Mike Hundert
800.423.3023 • remeyewear.com
Founded by Myles R. Freeman in 1987, Wiley X has become a leader in the world of protective eyewear. To this day, the company employs several family members and lifelong friends. Freeman’s son, Myles J. Freeman, co-owner and president of sales, gave a glimpse into the family’s approach.
Together time: “It would be selfish of us to forget the fact that we have daughters and sons, first cousins, who like spending time with each other. We usually try not to talk about business during these special times, although it doesn’t always go that way, I’m afraid [laughing]. It’s because we all genuinely enjoy talking about it.”
Democracy rules: “If two out of three make a milestone decision on a policy or program relative to this business, the family member with a different opinion needs to get over it. Better luck next time on another groundbreaking decision that needs to be made. It’s forgotten the next day, good, bad or indifferent. It’s family!”
Setting an example: “I’d have to give most of the credit for good advice to my dad. He’s always stood for high integrity, treating people with respect-especially
employees-and working hard for everything you get in life.”– Myles J. Freeman
800.776.7842 • wileyx.com
Founded in 1923 by Joseph Shyer and known for spearheading numerous firsts in the industry (including licensing the first American brand, Gloria Vanderbilt), Zyloware Eyewear is now in its third generation. The Shyer family has quite a bit of wisdom to impart to growing companies. Chris, Jamie and Henry offered some of their best nuggets.
Priceless Memories: “Working with family brings back thoughts of my father who started this company. Seeing my son and Chris brings back memories of my brother and myself. It brings me great pride to see
them succeed.” – Henry Shyer
Rule of thumb: “One tip has been that family members working in the business talk about Zyloware business only with family members working in the business.”
– Chris Shyer
Field of dreams: “Each of us has strengths and outside interests that we bring to the business, but all of us saw early on how much more impact we could have making this our field of choice with so much history and family experience to build upon.” -Jamie Shyer
Words of wisdom: “The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten was from my father who told me, ‘When dealing with the public and customers, who are part of your family, always tell them the truth. The truth is easier to remember than a lie.'” – Henry Shyer
800.765.3700 • zyloware.com