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Utah family businesses face unique challenges

Published January 13, 2014 8:31 am

Harmony • Zions Bank holds conference geared for family-operated companies.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When Natalie Kaddas took over the family business from her in-laws, she ran head-first into a series of unique issues that other business owners don't.

There was more pressure to succeed to impress her mother- and father-in-law. She had to tell family members who worked there that there is a definite separation between family and work life. And it wasn't exactly easy to tell family members that they had to start filling out expense reports.

"They really weren't very happy with me," she said. "For a normal business that may seem normal. But for a family business, they may say, 'Why do we need to do that?' That is so challenging because you walk a fine line between being a daughter-in-law and being a boss."

Kaddas, 41, who is the general manager of Kaddas Enterprises in Salt Lake City, which designs and manufactures plastic parts for clients such as airlines and the Utah Transit Authority, is attending a one-day conference put on by Zions Bank that is geared for family businesses.

The Zions Bank Family Services Conference will be held Tuesday and is by invitation only. During the conference, attendees will learn how to best make the transition to running a family business and how to raise financially responsible children and grandchildren who are growing up in the business.

"I'm hoping to understand the resources available for family businesses because they are different," Kaddas said. "You have your own family dynamic and how it's entangled with the business element."

According to the Conway Center for Family Business, 80 to 90 percent of all U.S. businesses are family-owned and/or family-controlled. About 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies are family-controlled. And issues like succession of the family business will become a larger issue. According to the center, more than 40 percent of the country's family-controlled business owners are expected to retire by 2017. Yet more than half of them had not yet selected a successor.

"At Zions Bank, we are equipping our clients with expertise to define and plan the future of their businesses," Zions Bank Family Business Services Manager Chaitali Patel said in a statement. "This helps them retain and build wealth, family harmony and priceless legacies."

After taking over Kaddas Enterprises in 2008, the company of 22 employees grew 37 percent in 2012 and 10 percent last year. Kaddas said she and her family have been able to find that family harmony as she turned the company into a successful business.

"It adds some complexity to some of the relationships. But I said that these are our business goals … just like any organization and here's what we're doing and how we're doing it," said. "The logical side always tends to win out over the emotional side."

Even with her husband, who is the head engineer for the company, Kaddas knows how to keep the business and family life in check.

"We don't commute together and we don't eat lunch together," she said about not spending too much time together. "That's the rule."

vince@sltrib.com

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