What can we learn from legacy businesses?

A family-owned winery on one of California’s oldest vineyards, managing conflict when work and family collide, a glimpse into the schedule of Blue Diamond’s CEO & more

By: Vanessa Labi

Happy spooky season! To some, there’s nothing scarier than the idea of working with a family member. Perhaps the very thought of mixing business and family gives you goosebumps. 

But many of the Capital Region’s successful and long-running companies are owned by families, some of them with roots four generations deep. Their longevity is due in part to the currency of inherited trust, contributor Steven Yoder finds. Business partners who are also relatives naturally engender more of it, which fosters better business performance, more job satisfaction and higher productivity.

But conflict is just as natural as trust between family members — and it’s not such a horrible thing. “There’s nothing wrong with disagreements,” Yoder reports. “Managed well, they ensure diverse perspectives that are good for a business’s mission and sales, say experts.” 

But while constant conflict might make for good TV (“Succession,” anyone?), there is a way to manage friction between family members so it doesn’t take down the entire company. Whether you’re part of a family-owned business yourself or if you fancy a peek behind the curtain, we hope you’ll find this feature on managing conflict as a family business illuminating. 

Here’s the rest of the Capital Region Rundown: 

We tag along with former Blue Diamond CEO Mark Jansen (who announced his departure last week) to observe his hands-on warehouse walks and visits to almond farmers; a 31-year-old Jackson restaurant known for authenticity and acceptance leads several local issues involving homelessness and LGBTQ rights; a 100-year-old farming empire on a Stockton island branches out to several new businesses while staying true to its initial crops; and the latest family to run the oldest winery in California finds success and longevity through shared views about the product and respect for their winery’s history and heritage.

Recommendations from our editors:

In this section we editors share what we’re reading, listening to, watching or even eating. Here’s what we’re consuming this week:

Judy: I read “From Strength to Strength” by Arthur C. Brooks over the weekend. The No.1 New York Times bestseller focuses on finding success, happiness and deep purpose in the second half of life. What got me was when Brooks posed the question: What would you want to hear at your eulogy, all the awards you won or what people thought of you as a person? (The latter.) Not surprising, he says people who have strong relationships with others are the happiest people.

Jennifer: Just in time for spooky season, I’m listening to an excellent audiobook of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” which is getting some attention recently due to the popularity of the “Dracula Daily” newsletter. Though Count Dracula himself is on a liquid diet, there’s a surprising amount of Eastern European food described in the early chapters, and lately I’ve been craving for paprikash and Tokaji wine. 

Vanessa: I just got back from vacation visiting family in Israel, so naturally I’m tempted to reference something from my time abroad. But what to “recommend” from vacation, removed as it is from real life? After all, I can’t very well suggest you float in the Dead Sea tomorrow or get a tattoo inspired by your dad’s homeland, although I can say both were a blast. The takeaways I can extend? Walk more, eat hummus every chance you get (with za’atar, of course), vegetables for breakfast, be more assertive on the street (Israelis are confident steppers and scooter-ers!), hug your family.

Odds and ends:

Nominations are open for Comstock’s Women in Leadership issue, so send in your picks by Dec. 1! Don’t forget to subscribe to the magazine to stay up to date on the region’s business trends, and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for daily stories and extras.

Recommended For You