When I tell people I run a family business, I get asked a lot of questions. I think people are intrigued by the idea of working for a family business. I read an article once in which the author said some of the best companies are family run and some of the worst companies are family run. I guess what the author really meant was when it’s good, it’s really good and when it’s bad, well…
I get asked a lot of questions but one of the most frequently asked question I get is what is it like working with your family?
Before I came to NDI, I worked for a large company in Atlanta selling software. It was a good career and a nice company but I couldn’t say I was passionate about what I was doing every day. I wasn’t really having fun. In 2001, NDI needed a Sales Director. I called Dad and we began talking about Paul and I relocating to northern Virginia so I could start working for NDI. Huge change for us. For me. I would go from working for a large corporation to a small family business. Three months after my initial conversation with Dad, Paul and I sold our home in Atlanta and moved back to Virginia. It has forever changed my life.
And I never knew how much I would LOVE it.
I get to come to work every day with my family. With my dad, who started NDI in 1988 and continues to teach me about following my gut, thinking forward and being a good leader. During the housing boom of the mid-2000’s, he taught me the importance of remaining true to what NDI stood for and to remember the booms never last. Boy was he was right.
When the housing market took a tumble, his lessons (and predictions) came to life in a different way. In less than 10 years, I saw NDI go from building 35 homes per year to over 100 homes per year. Since the boom, we’ve settled into 40-50 homes per year. It is an awesome pace of business. It allows us to know our clients. To see every home we build. To enjoy this incredible experience along side our clients. Dad taught me how to react to a drastic market change. You can’t learn that in a classroom. Learning from him has been a gift for which I’ll always be grateful.
And did I mention my brother Adam? I get to work with him too! Adam came to work for NDI in 2007. He started our Site Development Division and he now runs all of Construction Operations. To say we are completely different would be an understatement. Don’t get me wrong. We get along really well. But we are polar opposites (or polar complements as a friend of mine would say). We have been working together for 9 years and I can’t remember NDI without him. I depend on him for so many things. He’s my sounding board, my confidant and my friend. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work with my brother and I now that I have, I wouldn’t want to do this without him.
I’m sure there are family run businesses that are dysfunctional. In fact, I know there are because I’m familiar with some of them. But my experience working with family has been one of the greatest joys of my life. The days I’ve spent talking to my dad about NDI, about his legacy, will be moments I’ll always treasure.
Dad promoted me to NDI president in 2009. He remains involved with NDI and while he’s not in the office every day, his legacy is still a strong influence on me and everyone who works at NDI.
Yep – I think that author was right. When it’s good, it’s really good.
Dream Big. Build Smart.