Family learns to strike balance — while running a business that responds to emergencies
Stacey Thomas’ father, Jerry, started their family business with one van, a few air movers and dehumidifiers.
Since 1992, Specialized Cleaning & Restoration Inc. has grown into a second-generation family business in Bismarck, N.D., managing projects over $2.5 million.
It occupies a 16,000-square-foot facility with an indoor operation for rug cleaning, blind cleaning and ultrasonic restoration, plus the largest amount of drying equipment in the state.
The business will be one of several highlighted at the Sept. 26 North Dakota forum for the Prairie Family Business Association.
We talked with Stacey Thomas to learn more about the growing company.
What made you decide to be part of your family business?
It was by accident. I graduated from college and didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I traveled for a little bit and quickly ran out of money. At that time, my dad offered me a job, and I started working with part of my family: dad, sister and Seth. We have been working together for 12 years now, and I haven’t looked back.
You also work with your sister and brother-in-law. What are some strategies you have found successful in balancing business and family?
It all starts with respect. We have learned some great lessons the hard way and from friends within the Prairie Family Business Association. We put a conscious effort towards keeping business at the office and family holidays/events with the family. At times, this can be difficult, being part of our business offers 24-hour emergency service. Respecting each other’s time, family needs and leadership has been important in enjoying each other’s company at the office and at holidays
You will be part of the Next Generation Panel at the Sept. 26 North Dakota forum for the Prairie Family Business Association. What kind of information are you hoping to share with other next-generation business leaders?
I would like to share with others our family story, including the trials and triumphs. When you work in a family business, you feel the pain and struggles of everyone in the family. The other side of that is you also get to celebrate the good times together as well. This is a journey and not everyone makes it to second generation, so we are proud and humble to be where we are today.
What’s the biggest challenge you encountered coming into your family business, and how did you handle it?
There were a few big challenges, but one of the biggest for me was being in a male-dominated industry and working my way out of the being the boss’ daughter. I felt like I had to work twice as hard because my dad owned the company and I was in my early 20s starting out in the business. I felt like my dad had big expectations for me, my brother-in-law had more knowledge and experience than I did — and still does — and I had to find my strengths and place within the company.
What’s next for your business? How are you planning to continue evolving it?
Jerry put a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears into building this company and establishing a brand within our community and industry. Our future plans include continuing to build within, focusing energy on our team and expanding career opportunities for them. We also will continue to put a lot of time, research and training on staying ahead of technology in our industry. As in most industries, technology is constantly changing, from our processes to our marketing. Part of our plan also includes continuing to build a company that is desirable for a third generation to continue — if they have the interest.
Join Specialized Cleaning & Restoration and other inspirational family businesses at the Sept. 26 North Dakota forum. To learn more and register, click here.