Family business strategies from Ottawa’s Keynote Group, Richcraft Homes

James and Donna

A family enterprise features dynamics unlike any other business. The line between work and home life can become blurred, and the normal conflict that inevitably arises between coworkers takes on an added dimension.
 
While many Ottawa professionals can turn to a spouse or sibling at the end of a difficult day, that’s not always an option for entrepreneurs running a family business.

This makes finding people who are living similar situations –all the more valuable.

The was the mindset of James and Donna Baker when they launched their job placement firm, The Keynote Group, in 2015. 

“In any sport, even the best athlete still has a coach,” says James. “We wanted to be the best at what we do.”

James joined the Family Enterprise Xchange Ottawa Peer Advisory Group, where other people who work in or with their family enterprise can hash out the conflicts and gain support. 

“Other people have experienced what you’re going through. (Hearing their stories makes) you realize you’ll get through the challenges. Without them, I wouldn’t be here,” he says.

Besides the long hours, the Bakers encountered challenges in balancing their work and family life. James says an important step was to be conscious of whether a conversation is about work or family.

“It’s OK if you don’t agree on something at work. You need to put that aside at home” to avoid harming family life, he says.

That makes clear boundaries important. When the Bakers went to Mont Tremblant with their two sons, for example, they only spoke about work during their car ride – a decision to put work “on the shelf” so it doesn’t dominate one’s life. 
 

Create a succession plan for your family business

 

gala
Photo - Jeff Francoeur, Fronx Photos.

 

Kris Singhal founded Richcraft Homes in 1983 and often brought his children with him to construction sites. Some 35 years later, Singhal – along with his daughters Angela and Monica – began working on a succession plan. In 2018, the trio won the FEX Ottawa Enterprise of the Year Award.

A good succession plan defines the roles of family members and management will play in the future. While Kris remains as CEO, Angela has taken over the housing side of the business and Monica runs rental, commercial and highrise development. 

Since then, the family created a shareholder agreement and updated wills so that other family members could get involved in the future – all while striking a delicate balance with the company’s past.

“(It’s important to) always remember what the intention of the founder was and respect their vision,” Angela says. 

FEX Ottawa announces finalists for Family Enterprise of the Year Award

 

The fourth annual FEX Ottawa Family Enterprise of the Year Award (FEYA) and Arnie Vered Honorary Dinner will be held on May 9.

The Arnie Vered Dinner was created in recognition of his legacy and to honour Ottawa families in business. Growing up in a family business, he learned from his parents the importance of philanthropy and community involvement. As a long-standing FEX member, he was a strong advocate of the FEX mission to help family businesses sustain long-term economic prosperity and safeguard family harmony.

Here are the finalists for this year's award. 

 

gaye

GEM Health Care Services and the Moffett family

In 1994, Gaye Moffett, a single mom, found herself out of a job in the private health care business. She took the opportunity to fill a gap she had seen as a need for her patients by founding GEM Health Care, a full-service health care operation. 

Twenty-five years later, the second generation is working in the business and getting the education needed to lead the company for another 25 years of success. Gaye is most proud of the amount of positive impact GEM has within their community. They truly live by their slogan “Our family for yours. Notre famille au service de la vôtre.”

binks

Binks Insurance and the Binks Family

Celebrating 101 years in business, Harry Binks leads the team and family as he continues both his grandfather and father’s vision and legacy for the company. 

Binks Insurance focuses on niche commercial industries that need the company’s expertise and innovative ideas to ensure they are best served and protected for their future. Binks Insurance has become an incubation place for some of the other niche insurance brokers within the Ottawa region.

With the fourth generation active in the business today, a succession plan is in the works. Of all the company's achievements, Harry is most proud of their community involvement. 

steve

Regional Group

Celebrating 61 years in business, Steve Gordon has taken the baton his father-in-law Leonard Potechin passed to him in 1984 and continued the legacy to form a strong vertically integrated Capital Regional real estate platform. 

A third generation is being groomed to take the helm and pilot the company for the next 60 years, helped by including non-family executives at  family meetings. Their decision-making process and mentorship will ensure success and let the Gordon/Potechin family overcome the 90 per cent fail rate of family business ownership transfer to third generations in Canada. 

To purchase tickets to the gala, click here.