The Family-Run Printing Company

It is hard to separate the word family from a privately run printing business. Why? Most printing companies are run and/or influenced by family members. You will notice many such companies have the family name tied to the company. Moreover, I often ask people, in classes, training or speeches, if family businesses are good or bad. The answer I hear is both. There is an upside and downside to every family business. In some companies, I see family members treated as second class citizens, told to wait their time to move up and are really treated poorly. In other ones, I see long term and personal family issues playing out in the workplace and thus drama is everywhere. In other family printing businesses, family members come into the company at a high level whether they are great or bad performers…making these companies more like an entitlement focus than a results-based focus.

So what does this mean? Family businesses are complicated, special, confusing, emotional and exciting. Yes, they are all of these things at the same time. Wow, does this seem overwhelming? Yes it is to many. However, not to me. My firm specializes in working with family businesses. Why? I love them. They are so much fun, yet quite complicated at the same time. However, the upside always overshadows the downside. You know the expression…blood is thicker than water. Of course, that does not include instances of family members stabbing or punching each other.

Many family-run businesses I work with in this industry cannot agree on where they want to go. Why? There are different generations involved in the process and in some cases various family members in each generation. All have different vantage points. If you are on the outside looking in, a family business looks like the perfect life. However, when you are on the inside looking out it can be quite complicated.

Ryan T. Sauers is president of Sauers Consulting Strategies. The firm consults with the front end of privately held printing and related organizations across North America. The areas of focus are: sales growth, brand positioning, organizational strategy, and integrated marketing (with an emphasis on social media). Sauers speaks at many national events and writes feature articles in global publications. He is an adjunct university professor teaching leadership and entrepreneurship. Sauers is also the author of the best-selling book "Everyone is in Sales" and the newest book "Would You Buy from You?" Please visit:
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  • JimE

    I spent about fifteen years working for a family owned (non-printing) company. Well, I should say that it started out family owned, but after I was there about ten years, they sold out to a mega-corp company. Privately owned was great, and we all went out of our way to please the owner of the company and he treated us like family (the good and bad).

    The change to public mega-corp ownership was depressing, turning us into just being a number in a book somewhere. They outsourced almost all production, cut the workforce in half (hundreds of people) and destroyed what the company had been. Quite sad. I eventually got the axe too, but it was a blessing in disquise to get out of there.

  • Travis Lewis

    Growing up in a family business, I saw the good, the bad, and the UGLY. As I got older, I decided that I did not want to work at the same place as my spouse. I held to that, and I feel that my home life is better for it. There are those who can separate their personal & professional lives and work with their spouses. More power to them.