Business-Owning Parents Struggle to Recruit the Kids

Business-Owning Parents Struggle to Recruit the Kids

by Robert Johnson
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

This article is reprinted by permission from

Justin Wyner would love to woo his youngest son, James, into the family’s successful fabric business. Trouble is, he can’t find his adventurous offspring, who’s out exploring remote parts of East Asia on a six-month vacation.

James Wyner, a 38-year-old Harvard-educated business consultant for McKinsey & Co. in New York, already has a good job, concedes his father, 74. “He’s working with the top executives of some pretty big companies about their directions; it’s heady stuff.” Besides, says the elder Mr. Wyner, “It must be a good job to get six months off on a leave of absence.”

Six months of leisure is unheard of at Mr. Wyner’s very on-the-beaten-path company, Shawmut Mills, a fourth-generation maker of materials for automobile seats, based in West Bridgewater, Mass. Still, the senior Mr. Wyner is searching for the right recruiting pitch and to “create a great situation” for James at the company. More…

Family, Farming and Business: The Iott Orchard and Ranch

Family, Farming and Business:

The Iott Orchard and Ranch

by Debbe Skutch

It was my pleasure to visit the Iott Orchard and Ranch in Petersburg, Michigan.Marilyn Iott took the time to give me a brief tour of the more than 90 acres of apple orchards and fields of tomatoes, cabbage and corn.I witnessed innovative farming techniques and traditional values of business, family and farming at work.The following is a conversation with Marilyn about the past, present and future of her family’s business.

Tell us about the history of your family and your business.

In 1960 my husband, Cork, and I moved from 7 miles south of here to begin our own family farm.Cork grew up on his family’s farm.We have five children, three boys and two girls.Kevin is 36 and is in the business, Kerry is 32 and also lives nearby and works here.Our youngest son, Kory is a senior in high school and plans on attending college and then entering the family business. We have two daughters, Kim, 33, a travel agency manager and Katrina, 27, who owns her own computer consulting firm.

All our children grew up on the farm and worked many hours from an early age to help it succeed.They have sacrificed much. The girls had no interest in staying on the farm and Kory’s contribution will be different than his brothers’ because of changes in generation and farming. More…