What happens when you mix family and business?
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - 20:30

It’s difficult to get along with family at the best of times. So, what’s it like going into business with them?

Around 70 per cent of businesses in Australia are family operated – so there’s something about the dynamic that works. But it can’t be easy either.

From divorce to fighting in-laws, favouritism and firing family: this week, Insight takes a look behind the scenes of the family business- the good, the bad and the ugly.

Growing up, Jason Lea lived on the premises of the Sydney Darrell Lea chocolate factory – his family’s business.

“At the age of about 10, one school holidays, we were told that we had to work in the packing room of the factory, we were packing chocolates in boxes.”

But the family relationships didn’t match the sweet and colourful memories generations of Australians have of the Darrell Lea business in its prime.

“They say a family that works together, doesn’t play together. That was certainly our family,” he says.

Roula Angelopoulos didn’t have a choice about joining her family’s business.

When her father said it was time for her to take over his taxi fleet, she had to quit her glamorous art-directing job and learn a new trade.

“I had no experience before that. Basically it was just thrown at me, sink or swim, so I didn’t really know what I was in for.”

But she says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Running a taxi business is very male dominated, but I’m cool with that.”

The Bailey family have been in business together for four generations and current CEO of Bailey’s Fertilizer, Kim Bailey, would like his children to take over the business one day.

But his youngest son, Richard Bailey, doesn’t share his father’s passion. “When you grow up knowing the family business is fertiliser, a poo factory, it doesn’t sound like a good job prospect.”

Ivan Spehar, from Ivan’s Smallgoods tells Insight that he regrets the way he treated his son when they worked together. "I can be nasty," he admits.

What’s the difference between a family business that succeeds, and one that fails? How do you maintain family relationships when you work together? This week, Insight guests talk business … relatively speaking. 




JENNY BROCKIE:   Welcome everybody.  Jason, tell us about your family business, what did you make? 

JASON:  Well, it was always said that to be kid in the candy shop, we used to make chocolates, Darrell Lea chocolates. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Okay, what sort of things did you make?  Name a few of them. 

JASON:  Well Rockly Road, Nutcrackle, Old Time Rock. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Just rolls of the tongue. 

JASON:  Coconut roughs, Walnut rolls, Caramel Snows, Fudge Bars, Peppermint Chews, it goes on. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   We did the business start? 

JASON:  It was started by my grandfather, in around about 1927 officially.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And lot of people would remember the stores with the lollies piled high in the windows, yeah? 

JASON:  We had a phrase called "stack 'em high and watch 'em buy" and we did and they did. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Who is this in this photo? 

JASON: That's my grandmother, Valerie, she was the inventor of the original Darrell Lea smock. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Which she's wearing. 

JASON:  Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And all the women in the shops wore them. 

JASON:  Yes, yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What colour? 

JASON:  Every colour under the sun. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   And this is a photo of your dad and your grandfather who both ran Darrell Lea, is that right? 

JASON:  Yes, yes, they were probably Australia's version of Willy Wonka but there wasn't just two of them, there was a whole bunch of us were Willy Wonkas, even myself, I made lollies as well. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   When did you first realise that you were part of such a big family business?  How much of the family was involved? 

JASON:  Um, in the early days, um, all the family was encouraged to participate in the business and we were either evolved into a role or we were told what to do and I can remember from about age five where we actually lived on site at the factory at the time at Kogarah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   At the lolly factory? 

JASON:  At the lolly factory. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   As a kid? 

JASON:  As a kid.  

JUSTIN:  You were popular at school. 

JASON:  Popular, you've got to be kidding me. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   There's a great archive too, there's a photo we have of a family, the family and the staff heading off somewhere there? 

JASON:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is it off to a picnic or something? 

JASON:  That's off to a picnic we used to organise for the staff.   That photo would have been taken in around about 1929, maybe 1930, and I can tell because my uncle Darrell, which is what the business was named after, is sitting as a young boy on the roof of one of the cars. And that photograph was taken outside of 128 Pitt Street in Sydney and 128 Pitt Street was our first shop in the city of Sydney. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What was your first job? 

JASON:  My first job was my sister and I at about the age of ten one school holidays we were, um, told that we had to work in the packing room of the factory and we were packing chocolates in boxes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did you choose to go into the company or was it a given that that's what you would do? 

JASON:  Um, look I was aged about 21 and my uncle Harris, my grandfather Monty's younger brother Harris, rang me up and said young fellow, it's about time you came up and learnt the business. And at age 21 I came into the business and they had me from cleaning toilets to sweeping floors, to making product and, but the role that I liked the best was in the engineering and the plant and maintenance department and I ended up doing an apprenticeship in fitting and turning and that is my only qualification, I'm a fitter and turner. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did you choose it though, or was there no choice involved? 

JASON:  Um, I was basically told to come up to Sydney to work in the business. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   And you didn't mind that? 

JASON:  I didn't mind. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What happened when your second cousin wanted to be a doctor? 

JASON:  Um, my second cousin Michael was a young fellow, fresh out of school, fresh out of grammar school and he, he had expressed a desire to his father Harris that he wanted to be a doctor and Harris told him, well, I can't use a doctor in the business, do something at university that I can use in the business.  Michael then became our family's accountant. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Wow, so the family just did what they were told? 

JASON:  Um, yes. 


JASON:  Mostly.  You've got to remember it came from a very hard working core group of four men, or three men and a sister and a younger bloke and, who was Darrell, and the, the dynamic was that you were expected to work in the business. When they got married, when the wives came along in the 1930s and they were able to literally have the pick of the best women to then marry because the boys…

JENNY BROCKIE:   Who worked in the shop? 

JASON:  Who worked in the shop and they would pick and choose who were the best women and this is how the three brothers chose. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Takes family business to a whole other level. 

JASON:  And they picked the best ones, let me tell you.  

JENNY BROCKIE:  The ones who looked best in the smocks. 

JASON:  Yes, that's right, and the family dynamic then started to alter because you've then got women involved and then, they then had children, those family groups had children and then it becomes bigger and bigger.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Okay. Richard, when did you first get involved in the family business? 

RICHARD:  Um, when I was seventeen straight out of high school so I remember I was actually graduated year 12, I think…

GEN:  That's what he tells everybody, I don't know if he actually graduated. 

RICHARD:  Yes I graduated year 12, I've got the certificate and everything. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Oh goodness, okay, already the siblings are arguing, yes, go on.  

RICHARD:  I think I started work, night shift, I think it was the last two remaining weeks and I think I got my first pay cheque. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So dad asked you.  Do you remember what he said? 

RICHARD:  Need somebody on night shift, come on in, give you ten bucks an hour, that was it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Kim, do you remember that, when you first asked him? 

KIM:  He sort of wanted to come to the business.

GEN:  Always did. 

KIM:  The two older ones, they wanted to go on with their education and Richard didn't want to do that so it seemed a natural fit for him to join the business straight after school, which he did. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Your grandfather started the business? 

KIM:  He did. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   In the '20s. 

KIM:  Mmm. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did you want to keep it in the family?  Did you want your kids to join in? 

KIM:  Um, well yes I did. Both James and Genevieve had gone off and had a higher education and gone into career paths.  Both had travelled and at the end, sort of the end of their travelling period, if you like, had conversations to both of them at separate intervals, it seemed logical that they came and joined the business. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   And what is the business? 

KIM:  We're a fertiliser and soil manufacturer in WA so.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did you all think this would be happen? I mean you were doing other things.  James, did you think of going into the business? 

JAMES:  Not at, no. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   And your early exposure to the business is quite well documented here I think in a photo that we have. 

RICHARD:  That’s the dirtiest he’s been.

JAMES:  That's not true. We did …

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did you want to be involved as a kid or were you just plonked next to a pile of fertiliser? 

JAMES:  It looks like it in that picture. 

FAYE:  No, mum brought him to the business.

JAMES:  We helped out on school holidays and that kind of thing, earned some pocket money.  I mean Gen's good story, one of the products we were sitting in bagging off of kids earning $5 an hour or something like that, possibly borderline child labour I guess, I'm not sure but good pocket money for a kid. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   But James, you were very aware from a young age as a family business, I want you to have a look at this, just a drawing. How old were you when you did that? 

JAMES:  Oh well, it looks like I could write then so I must have been a bit older.  I think in primary, preschool so I used to paint these all the time, so in a yellow truck every day. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Baileys, the Fertiliser Family. 

GEN:  That's what we used to be known as. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Gen, how did you get involved? 

GEN:  I went and did an arts degree at uni and went travelling and ran out of money and needed a job, and dad asked me if I'd like to come into the business and start in a marketing position which I didn't really have any experience in but it sounded good to me. And then, yeah, the rest is history I guess. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So none of you had a passion to be part of the business? 

RICHARD:  Not when you grow up knowing it's a fertiliser and you know, poo factory, it doesn't sound like a good job prospects. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So how did you all end up in the business, all three of you? 

GEN: Well we were very close to the business growing up, so we were always around the family business and I guess, I don't know, just in our blood. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   In your blood? 

GEN:  In our blood. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Fertilisers in your blood? 

RICHARD:  It definitely is. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So was it a decision though to go into the business or was it something you just kind of slid into? 

JAMES:  I think, I don't know, there's a legacy that you want to continue I guess as part of your family after a while. So yeah, you kind of feel almost obliged I guess to do it as the next generation. 

GEN:  We definitely weren't, we didn't have to go into the family business, we were definitely given a choice. Unlike I think probably dad's generation, I don't think he was given a choice. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is that right Kim? 

KIM:  Yeah, I didn't, no, I was expected to go into the business, yeah.  When I left school, I left school at 17, I got myself a good job, and went home excited, told my father and he promptly told me that I wouldn't be starting work there. I'd be going to his business, so that's…

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you react to that? 

KIM:  Well, I really had no say in the matter, you know, those years, it was sort of did what you were expected to do by the family, I suppose. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Roula, what did you want to do for a living? 

ROULA:  I was an art director for quite, seventeen years, yeah, something like that and…

JENNY BROCKIE:   And you landed a good, you landed a well paid job? 

ROULA:  Yes, it was high profile.  It was on, it was quite glamorous I must say at the time, I did have a lot of fun. You know I went to a lot of great crazy parties, a lot of VIP events and rubbed shoulders with a lot of big names, celebrities, and it was so much fun and then dad asked me to come and take over …

JENNY BROCKIE:   His business? 

ROULA:  His business. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Let's have a look at what you're doing now. 



ROULA:   People react in interesting ways when they find out that I operate a taxi fleet.     

“Is Michael around? Oh there you are Michael.”

I guess I don’t fit the preconceived idea of what a taxi operator looks like. You probably won’t see too many women around here. It’s something I have become accustomed to, it’s a very very heavily male dominated industry, so I’m cool with that.

“Is he going, alright… because my car is behind you, so is that okay? Isaac!

ISAAC:  Hi Roula, how are you?

ROULA:  Good thank you, how did it go?

When the phone rings in the middle of the night and I jump up, I always know it’s never going to be just a friend calling to say “Hey, we are at the bar, come down and meet us” it’s always the police or something has happened to one of the taxis. If you are the sort of person who does not want  to be called in the middle of the night, or woken up, this is not the job for you.


JENNY BROCKIE:   What happened, what happened to the art director? 

ROULA:  Well, look, the art director is still in me, I'm still, a creative person. Now what happened is dad, I remember the time he said to me look I'm going to Greece for a few months and I need you to just to come and take over, take over the business, I'll be gone next week, sink or swim.  So basically it was just thrown at me like that.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And what were you in for, what was it like when you were thrown at first? 

ROULA:  It was pretty crazy because he had this theory that when he came out here no one helped him, he made, built a life out of nothing so he wanted to see us struggle and he said that's the best training ground because once you struggle then you, you get to learn, you know, the natural way and you appreciate the job. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   How did the drivers react to you? 

ROULA:  That was interesting. There were a few at the time that, their attitudes, well, they had an attitude towards me being female and being a female employer, I guess. I don't think they quite liked that. But that was something I had to adjust to because I realised I couldn't change those cultural differences. They came from backgrounds where women were not privileged to have those positions. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   And your dad was preparing you for taking over the business? 

ROULA:  I guess he was, yes, he was doing pretty much everything. Not just the taxis, he was running, he was running his petrol station as well, he was running the other commercial properties, his real estate. He was doing it all by himself and technology had changed so much and he could not cope.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What's it like running a taxi fleet, compared to being an art director? 

ROULA:  It's very different, very different.  Running a taxi fleet has many challenges. You, you're always on-call, you have a lot of disruptions, you'll get phone calls when you're out at social functions, at dinner, you have to take them unfortunately, you can't, you can't switch off. The taxis operate twenty four hours, seven days a week, you're always on-call, you're going to get that phone call in the middle of the night. It's got a lot of stress. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   When your dad left the business to you and your sister, did you think about selling it? 

ROULA:  No, that's not an option. 


ROULA:  Well, because for me to do that, I have to consider my sister as well and my sister has children and we wouldn't sell it.   No, I think it's my dad worked so hard for this that I think we want to continue to make it work and grow and you know, we're very privileged to have something that we could pass on to the next generation. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is that you're hoping will happen? 

ROULA:  Exactly, yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   With your sister's children? 

ROULA:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Okay. Jodie, how did you react when your brother and your husband said they wanted to start a business together? 

JODIE:  I think I was fairly relieved because Justin had come from a background of business and been successful in business and, sorry…

ANDRE:   It's not going well for me. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Justin's your brother? 

JODIE:  Justin's my brother, sorry darling, but Andre is one of the, obviously I married him, one of the most incredible people I've ever met.  He's very creative and has had, he's passionate and he has ideas, but he had started a lot of businesses and you know, were never making a lot of money out of those businesses and I knew he was going to succeed at something but he just didn't have that business background. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did you think it would work, the two of them together in a business? 

JODIE: I wasn't sure because they had had a fairly rocky sort of relationship prior to that. Justin's just a fiercely loving brother, protective brother, and Andre's a pretty strong personality. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   You're being so careful with the words... 

JODIE:  I really am. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   You're choosing, but you are walking on egg shells just describing the situation, right? 

JODIE:  Yeah, well they're both looking at me. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Yeah, I'm going to talk to you two. 

JUSTIN:   And we love each other now. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Yeah, now, but let's talk before now, what sort of relationship had you both had with one another?  What did you think of one another before this? 

JUSTIN:   Volatile is fair. He was a strong personality and I was the younger protective brother and so I think early when, before the business side came up, there was a few, there was a few interesting nights fuelled by, you know, family events and the stuff that we now sell, wine. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did you make of Justin? 


JUSTIN:   I'm right here. 

ANDRE:  Yeah.  Look, I think there was some fundamental differences in how we'd been as kids and, and in our…

JENNY BROCKIE:  You're being just as careful as she is? 

ANDRE: Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Come on, come on. 

ANDRE: He was irrationally protective of his sister. He was pretty open and his whole family about not really, they didn't really approve of me as a husband of choice. 


ANDRE:  That's fair to say, right? Thought Jodie could have done better. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So it's fair to say, so it's fair to say there was quite a lot of tension in this relationship? 

ANDRE: Yeah, there was. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So why did you decide to go into business together? 

ANDRE:   We were drunk. 

JUSTIN: We were. 

ANDRE:  It was Christmas Eve. 

JUSTIN:  We were drunk and broke I think. 

ANDRE: It was Christmas Eve and we both, Justin had been overseas and I'd been doing another business on my own and both in different places of the world had come up with this business idea that were remarkably similar and we were just telling each other these business ideas, like this is what I'm going to do, and it was awkward because we were like that's kind of the same business. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What is the business you're in? 

ANDRE:  Well it's an on-line retail business called Vino Mofo.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And was it smooth sailing, this business idea? 

JUSTIN:   No, the first one sucked, the first four. 

ANDRE: You can say suck because it's SBS. 

JUSTIN: The first three businesses, each one kind of got better but the first one was not very good. 

ANDRE: So we didn't earn any money for the first four years and we came into it with no money. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  For the first four years? 

ANDRE:  No, no, we did earn some. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What are you thinking at this time Jodie? 

JODIE:  No, it was excellent because I had two children.  I had a, like two and a half and a six month old so it was pretty stressful.  You know that whole cycle of just the bills piling up and you won't open them. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So were you thinking they should stop this and both get jobs? 

JODIE:  No, I trusted Justin because I thought …

JENNY BROCKIE:   You trusted your brother, but not your husband necessarily? 

JODIE:  In terms of just … 

JUSTIN:  I'm loving this. 

ANDRE: It all comes out now. 

JODIE:  In terms of just the financial side of things. I would just say to Justin do you really think this is going to work? 

JUSTIN:   She'd come around the side from, she'd ask Andre and not listen to him and then she'd come, Andre said this, is it true? 

JENNY BROCKIE:   How long did it take to come good? 

ANDRE: Five years. 

JUSTIN:   Yes, four years when the really good idea came about and then within a year that was really running. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   And what's your relationship like now? 

JUSTIN:   Very good.  Very, very good, love each other very much. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So how long has that taken? 

JUSTIN:   Ten years. 

ANDRE:  I've known Justin for sixteen years. It's probably taken sixteen years to be honest. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Karen, you started going out with Jason when you were twenty, what did you make of the Lea family and the Darrell Lea business at that age? 

KAREN:  Very different to my own family.  My family and I guess most families call their mum and dad mum and dad but his parents were first name basis and other family members so that we could differentiate between the Lea surname were, his grandmother who lived next door to us, which was very interesting, was, oh, Valerie, always just first name basis, or Mrs Valerie, and his father was Mr Jason. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What did you make of it? 

KAREN:  Jason didn't, he didn't recognise the difference because that was normal for him but for me it was quite different. You know, when we had our own family I was sort of determined to sort of keep our family a bit more normal. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So business was more important than family? 

KAREN:  It seemed to be. Yeah, that's how I felt. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is that what it was like Jason? What was the family dynamic like? 

JASON:  Yeah, very much so, it was a case of business comes first, the family can come second and that seemed to carry through with all of us. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Was it a close family at other times? 

JASON:  Put it this way, the family in our situation, the family that worked together did not play together. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Roula, you started working with your dad in the business a few years before he died? 

ROULA:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What was that like, how did you get on in the business? 

ROULA:  Oh, at the big beginning we get didn't get on at all, it was terrible.  We just head-butted, we didn't agree, we didn't have the same views on things, but…

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did it make you question whether it was a good idea to be working with him? 

ROULA:  Yes, of course, many times.  But I think it took us a while because we were both adjusting to each other's personalities and our differences of, just different characters. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did it change your relationship? 

ROULA:  In the end it did because just a few years later, like just before dad passed away we became friends and I'm very thankful for that because I got to know my dad as my mate. But it took a while to get there.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Justin and Andre, how did you get past that? How did you get past that tension? 

JUSTIN:   Started making money. .

JENNY BROCKIE:  Is that what changed things? 

JUSTIN:  Honestly, I think success helped to, because we, you know, when, when the business is not doing well, which means I'm, you know, financially not doing well, it also means because he's married to my sister she's not doing well and they've got kids so there always that tension and that depressing thing knowing I wasn't just failing myself, I was failing the family. So I think once it started getting better it wasn't so stressful, we could look back and actually appreciate what each of us brought to the equation because we're very different people and, we couldn't have done what we've done today without each other.

ANDRE:  Like I think we also, when we realised that okay, this is the relationship now, we're business partners first, you know, family second. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Business first, family second? 

JUSTIN:   Within our relationship, absolutely. 

ANDRE:  Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Richard, how do you all get on as a family in business? 

RICHARD:  Pretty badly, I hate both of them. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Sorry, I didn't hear that? 

RICHARD:  No, they're all good, they're all good.

GEN:  We're actually really good friends. 

JAMES:  We've always had a strong family.

JENNY BROCKIE:  What do you think, what do you think it's like for the other employees of the business, Gen? 

GEN:  Well, it depends on the day we're having, so I think they like the dynamic now, James and I.  Last year when we had a review, one comment we got was less, it was a sort of anonymous 360 review and one of the comments was less fighting in the office please. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Between you and your brother? 

GEN:  Yes, I think the between family. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Between the family members? 

GEN:  Yeah, but we definitely made a conscious effort I think since then over the last sort of five years to professionalise the business and I think that's happening.  I guess with the succession as well, like we're going through succession at the moment from the third to the fourth generation.  

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do family members get away with stuff that other staff wouldn't get away with, James? 

JAMES:  I don't know, some of us like to come in at certain hours of the day, when they choose. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Who are you looking at? 

JAMES:  Some of us keep business hours, some of us tend to do what they like. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Okay, who is he looking at? Is he looking at you Faye? 

FAYE:  He is. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Is he looking at mum? 

FAYE:  And he forgets, that little boy over there that you saw as a baby that his mum was getting in at 9 o'clock and working to whatever time was needed for thirty odd years to build our family business, to help it all stay together. So you know…

JAMES:  She's one for late nights. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is this a source of some tension between the two of you? 

FAYE:  Not now.  I think he has to be aware of the effort that we have put in over the years and he's only just starting out. So I'm letting go and let it all roll off me now because, you know, how many years have you been here now James with us? 

JAMES:  About two and a half, three. 

FAYE:   Two and half, three, so when gets up to thirty years in the business …

JENNY BROCKIE:   I love that line, how long have you been with us James? 

FAYE:  But you know what you mean though? That's the thing that …

JENNY BROCKIE:   I'm interested though in how that plays out, those kind of tensions. 

JAMES:  I think like Gen was saying, we're transitioning into another generation and we're certainly trying to professionalise the business, I guess, a bit taking it out of being a family business where it's getting a bit bigger than that I guess, you've got to take it to the next level which is what we're trying to do so you've really got to put these things in place. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   And how do you two feel about that, about that transition happening, Faye?  And you offered your resignation at one stage? 

FAYE:  Exactly, yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What happened? 

FAYE: Well I'm trying to exactly think back then what happened. 

JAMES:  Buried the hatchet totally, yeah, I didn't even remember it.

GEN:  In the heat of the moment, we were in a family council meeting and…

JENNY BROCKIE:   What's a family council meeting? 

GEN:  So we have a, when we sort of started going through this transition, when James and I came into the business and we started going through the generational transition, I guess, we employed an external advisor to help us with that and so we formed a family council to help separate family issues from business issues. So we formalised that and we got a family sort of strategy up.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What was that transition like though, having these young ones come in and say okay, we have other ideas as well for the business? 

KIM:  Well I think it's fine.  I think, you know, there's a generational gap between us and they're, you know, they're better educated so they're up with the modern techniques and all that sort of stuff so I think for our business it's the future and they want to do it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So just getting back to that resignation letter Faye, what happened? 

FAYE:  In a way it felt like I was being controlled a little bit by my son because he wasn't really respecting his mother, that's how I felt.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did you find it difficult? 

KIM:  Well I didn't find it as difficult because I had, my father was gracious enough to get out of the business when I was about 28. So he left it to me and…

JENNY BROCKIE:   But I mean more having the next generation tell you what to do? 

KIM:  Well, look, if the idea's right and it's well researched, you know, it's probably going to be the way we'll go. I think it's happening now in our business. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Jason, your father had you sacked from the Darrell Lea business 22 years ago, why? 

JASON:  Yes, well, in his words, I was a square peg in a round hole. Sometimes when he'd come in and say you do this and you do that, that's when we'd argue. But he didn't directly sack me or made me redundant the words are, but our then general manager of retail notified me that I was no longer required. I was offered…

JENNY BROCKIE:   So your dad made the decision but he didn't tell you himself? 

JASON:  Yes, he made the decision but it wouldn't come from him.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What was that like for you? 

JASON:  It was tough. It was interesting. I'd always been involved with other small minded businesses in the past and I just rammed up a new and used office furniture business, got involved in doing that and then that evolved into a self-storage business, I didn't need my father and we survived quite well. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   You still talk about the business though with great passion. 

JASON:  Very much so because it's in here, it's in the heart and I'm not, I'm not trained, I'm not educated.  My father left school at year 10, I was one more, one more year of education than he was. He had no qualifications, in fact the only…

 JENNY BROCKIE:  So why were you, why were you let go?

JASON:  I in effect gave myself very little to do and he realised this and he says well what are you going to do and I said well I don't know.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Could you understand it as a business decision? 

JASON:  Yes, from, from, from my head, yes. From the heart, it was, it was a difficult one to do. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Where did that leave your relationship with your father? 

JASON:  Um, well, interestingly not long after that, I became a shareholder and in that way we were able to, on a board perspective or as a director's perspective, put effort into working on the business.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So I asked you about your relationship with him.

JASON:  We would still have terse discussions and then put up a proposal that he should be made redundant because he's not qualified to run the business and that we should appoint outside professional managers. And he didn't like that, to be told by his son who he had sacked, his son then wanted him to be sacked. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So what happened in the end to your relationship with him? 

JASON:  Um, it was still, um, my father passed away in 2005 of leukaemia but you know, towards the end he'd, we'd still speak socially and talk of our children, his grandchildren, and of just general things, but we really couldn't speak about the lolly business so to speak. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Gen, how do you decide who gets what role in the business? 

GEN:  It's been quite organic.  We get to play to our strengths which is the best part of about it and we stay out of each other's, you know, each other's way. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   And how do you think the other staff deal with that? I mean you two are do general managers now? 

JAMES:  Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   James and Gen. 

JAMES:  I think it can create some issues.  We're working on that I think.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Gen, did you feel you had to prove yourself? 

GEN:  I think at the start, yes, I did, yeah, at the start I did feel like perhaps I wasn't the best person for the role, lack of experience. You know, I think if you prove yourself and you do the hard yards and your staff can see how dedicated you are, then it works out. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you have other family members in the business? 

JUSTIN:  My mother has been doing our accounts forever before we actually could afford to pay her, she was doing them. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Oh, someone not being paid? 

ANDRE:   Yes. 

JUSTIN:   Yeah, so she had a normal day job in an accountancy firm and then we couldn't afford to pay anyone to do our accounts so mum would come home at night and do our accounts for us and I mean she's a super woman. She was doing that for three or four years so she's a big part of the business and she's a big part of our history.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is she still part of the business? 

JUSTIN:   Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is she paid now? 

JUSTIN:   Yes, yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Good, I'm glad to hear it. 

ANDRE: My brother just joined, my younger brother just joined our business, we just employed him.  We wanted to get him out of his life in Sydney and come and have some purpose and feels good to be able to do that too. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   And how's that going?  

ANDRE: Look, it's challenging.  There was a lot of baggage but you know, I felt he needed something and to be in an environment that would look after him and encourage him, you know, in a way that we could and that I could insist on and that I could give him a safe environment that he needed and you know, and just make sure that he's got people that are going to give him a chance. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Kim, have all your children gone into the business? 

KIM:  No. Faye and I are divorced by the way. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   I was going to get to that, I was going to get to that, but yeah. 

KIM:  Well we're a fairly strong family even so. So my first marriage had two children.  Both in the time of my father were, when we incorporated our business, were given shares, were allocated shares, and subsequently my eldest boy decided to sell his quite some time ago and they were bought out by another family member, me. We subsequently worked in the business on and off for some time and in the end we decided it wasn't for him and I think he probably decided that as well and he hasn't been there for quite some time. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What was it like, did you tell him to go? 

KIM:  Well, I think collectively Faye and I probably influenced him fairly strongly to go. The children were young at the time. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   And what was that like when that happened? 

KIM:  Well, it was difficult because you know, he is my son and I thought that we'd given him, you know, enough chances, we'd had him back several times.  He was living at home with us, with our children and he wasn't playing the game. So in the end, you know, Faye said to him look you can't stay here any more so, so he left.

JENNY BROCKIE:   You two were married for around thirty years? 

KIM:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did being in business together affect your relationship do you think? 

FAYE:  I think so, yes, because it's business and business and business, 24/7. Yeah, so it did. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did your divorce affect the business? 

FAYE:  No. 

KIM:  Well I don't think it affected the performance of the business. It may have had some other effect. You know, the divorce had a settlement so Faye had a substantial shareholding. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So what was that like for the two of you going through that and staying in business together? 

FAYE:  We just got on. 

KIM:  We had to get on with it.   We're adults so.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What happens if either of you remarry? 

KIM:  Well in my view not very much. We have a shareholders' agreement which emphatically describes what you can do with your shares and you can't dispose of them other than to a Bailey. 




IVAN:  I come from Croatia to Australia in 1965, eleven of eleven. When I was living at a small town, a country town, I eat meat maybe twice a year, I was more or less a vegetarian for 15 years and today we have meat that much that I don’t know what to do with it.

This is my granddaughter Nikki, she loves cooking, she loves food. That’s my granddaughter Michelle, turn around Michelle… you take after your grandfather, you work.

Joseph, that is my son Joseph which learned butchery since age 15, I think he is the one who is going to carry on.

NIKKI: About 11 or 12 I started working all my school holidays and I would come into the factory, have to peel tongues and saw the pigs heads in half. I don’t get sick days because they can see if I’m just faking it.

IVAN:  Why I am saying it is harder with the younger generation is because we come from older generation where hours mean nothing to us, working 12 – 14 hours a day was nothing. Today, the younger generation don’t want to do that you know!

NIKKI:  Usually when I tell people that I work in a Croatian butcher shop, they will always ask “Oh, is there an Ivan there?” and I will have to say “Yep, that’s my grandfather and he is pretty much exactly what you imagine the Croatian mafia to be.”


JENNY BROCKIE:   Hello Ivan. Very disappointed you haven't got your hat on Ivan, it's a great hat. You set up that meat business 45 years ago, how many members of your family work with you? 

IVAN:  When I started it was just my wife and I and her brother, we started business.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So tell me about the family, how many family members work with you now? 

IVAN:  Family members now, it's about, just my son, my granddaughters three, and I had another son but he left about nine months ago, he didn't want to be any more in the game in butchery, he wants to believe. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What was that like?  How did you feel about him leaving? 

IVAN:  I didn't feel good but you have to accept things you get in life which you know, he wants to, he pick up his wife and two kids and he went to Queensland. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What sort of boss are you? 

IVAN:  Oh, I could be very nasty at that time times, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How are you nasty? 

IVAN:  Oh I think I still today I am regretting lots of things to my big son here where I treat him little bit too hard and too harsh and he said don't worry dad, that's past. But I am very harsh boss and I can scream lots because I have very loud voice also.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Joseph, what's he like as a boss? 

JOSEPH:  Well how can I say? His way or no way. Five years ago I left and opened up my own business but I'm still involved with the family business. I think I'm more close to him now than I was when I worked with him.

JENNY BROCKIE:   How did you feel about him leaving and setting up his own business, Ivan? 

IVAN:  I was very upset with myself more or less, even today I'm upset with myself.  I don't think I done the right thing because my wife used to always tell me pass on to your son.

JENNY BROCKIE:   But what about your relationship with him, when you say that you regret, what do you regret?

IVAN:  I do regret because in today it's very hard for me to ask him to sell his business and move his business come with me. But like he says, it's me, my way or no way, you know? And I think it's wrong. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So how are you two managing that now? 

IVAN:  Good, we are good.  We are better friends now than ever. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Did you want to go into the business or did you have no choice? 

JOSEPH:  I had a choice.  Every time I had a choice he goes no, that's no good so it was always no future in that.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Joseph, what's sort of boss are you? Your daughters work with you? 

JOSEPH:  Very understanding, a lot more than my father. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is that right? 

LANA:  Yes, I work for both of them. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Okay, way you go. How do they compare? 

LANA:   Less screaming from dad, I'd say, yeah, he's fine.  He tries to be more relaxed in the workplace and I think that you are, but you still gets stuff done which is good. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Michelle, what do you think, what's dad's like to work for and have you worked for both? 

MICHELLE: I have worked for both. I've actually nearly ten years now working for them two. Dad and I get along much more. With my grandfather, when I first started I was about fourteen, it was first paid work, working for them, it was a bit different. It was a bit of yelling.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Ivan, you have three sons and one daughter, who do you want to take over the business when you retire? 

IVAN:  Oh, I don't know when I'm going to retire but I don't plan to retire but I…


IVAN:  I want my son to take over and I think the next one after him is, I think Michelle properly, granddaughter, she's very keen and she loves the game.  I mean you can see how they're cutting meat, they use the saws, they use everything just like the boys. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So you want Joseph to take it over? 

IVAN:  Well I want him to do so but that's up to him if he wants to or not. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you want to Joseph? 

JOSEPH:  I'm enjoying it.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And you have three daughters? 

JOSEPH:  Yes I do. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Would you like one of them to take over the business one day? 

JOSEPH:  If they're willing. I don't force it. To them I'd rather see them be self-independent. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So does that mean giving to them? 

JOSEPH:  Them or future son-in-laws, maybe, I don't know, if they're willing to go…

JENNY BROCKIE:   Okay, why son in laws? 

JOSEPH:  Well as I said, butcher's a male thing, it's not a female thing. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is that how you girls feel? 

MICHELLE:   It depends because with our type of work you do get whole bodies in.  So I can carry an 80 kilo calf, it's more of a male thing. 

LANA:   I mean we're, we’ve got, I mean I have a creative background and my other sister she's going into psychology. But I think you're right when you say it's a legacy.  I mean with you, you were creative before so long and then it was thrust upon, you don't want to let your family down, you kind of want to keep the name around. I mean if it ever gets passed to you like definitely. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Andre, do you have a plan for the future of your business?  Do you two have a plan, do you want to keep it in the family, have you thought that far ahead? 

ANDRE:  The principle of it sounds good.  So the idea of, we did make a change in thinking a few years ago when we started thinking of building a business for generations, not just build a business to be able to get wealthy from.

JENNY BROCKIE:   When you're 60 and you've built this great business together and you're wondering what's going to happen to it if you're not there. 

ANDRE:  We'll either do that or we'll want to sell it so we can live fabulously, obscenely wealthily the last twenty, thirty years of our life. I don't know how I'll feel then but I think I'm, look you get proud I think when your kids show an interest in this thing you've built and I think it would be very hard to see it end, you know, or go to someone else or bring in a, you know, that would be hard. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Kim, you have a succession plan in place? 

KIM: Mmm.  Well, there's a strategic plan in place, out five years I think they intend to grow the business. We've got…

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do any of you have kids yet? 

JAMES:  No. 

GEN:  No. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Would you expect your own kids to carry on the business, do you think? 

GEN:  Haven't even thought about kids yet. 

RICHARD:  If they wanted to. 

FAYE:  Just got animals, dogs. 

KIM:  Yes, none of them have produced any grandchildren as yet. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   But have you thought about that?  You know, it's interesting because you know, you're the next generation, have you thought about that?

GEN:  Ownership and management don't need to go hand in hand. We can still own the business and not be directly involved with management. So I know James and I personally we have other interests so we, you know, we definitely want to get the business to a level where we can step out in a way, maybe in ten years or something. 

JAMES:  I think our parents have worked very hard and we've inherited a great work ethic but I don't think we want to work in a family business the rest of our lives.  We'd really like to set it up so that you can do that, you could do something else. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What about you Richard? 

RICHARD:  I'll take the shares and yeah, run it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So you want to stay involved? 

RICHARD:  I mean I honestly have like no real life prospects outside the business.  I mean like, I don't see myself making the same amount of money I do in the business being a professional snow boarder because one, I wouldn't be a professional snow boarder and I'd probably break myself in half. 

GEN:  That's the two options. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Yes, looking at those two options. 

RICHARD:  And I live in WA so there's no snow there either. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Roula, you don't have children, your sister does? 

ROULA:  Right. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is there a succession plan for the business? 

ROULA:  Yes, her children, yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do they know that yet? 

ROULA:  They'll find out. My sister …

JENNY BROCKIE:   How old are they? 

ROULA:  Six and four and a half. My sister takes cares of the other half of the businesses that dad, dad didn't just have taxis, dad split everything down the middle and he said look, you girls decide which part of it you want to run but it's in both your names and I just chose to do the taxis. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What if, what if that six year old and four year old don't want to be involved in the business? 

ROULA:  Well, that will be interesting. I think, I think they will probably, that's fine, but I think they might have that opportunity to follow their dreams, whatever it be, but eventually it will be in the family, someone's going to have to take it on, whether that, I know that, I know my sister will leave it to them. I'd like them to want to continue it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Phillip, you’re a family business consultant, around 70 percent of businesses are family run in Australia? 

PHILLIP:  Something like that. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Something like that? 


JENNY BROCKIE:   How long do they usually stay in the family? 

PHILLIP:  There's always that saying, shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.  It's more complex than that but there is some stats around that there's only, you know, I think less than 10 percent last to the fourth generation. And I think there are a number of stages where often you're from the founder to the next generation is a real testing one because sometimes it's very difficult for the founder to give up and it's then, also then what's the next generation, do they want to take over and that sort of thing?  If there are good agreements in place, so the Baileys have got some really lovely stuff in place, family council, family constitution, and agreements there, the chances are much, much better. You know, there's some six, seven generation families in Australia. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do many families have succession plans? 

PHILLIP:  No, nowhere near enough.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And what happens when they don't? 

PHILLIP:  Normally it's total chaos. It can be a complete disaster. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Jason, long after you were made redundant the business was finally sold out of the family. 

JASON:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   In 2012. 

JASON:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What was that like for you? 

JASON:  Um, from here, very, very difficult, but we had to do it.  The profitability just wasn't there and for the last number of years of trading we were in big trouble. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   But even after you lost your job, you were still going to shop openings. 

JASON:  Yes, I'm a Lea, I mean what better person would there be to get a big pair of scissors and cut the ribbon of a shop? There weren't many of us left to do that. I was happy to do it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   So what do you want for the Darrell Lea company now? 

JASON:  It's still our family business.  We may not own it but we built up a business over 85 years that's uniquely Australian. I'd like to think in two or three generations time that they'll remember what that business was, but sadly today it's a different model, it's a different skill. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you want it to do well or not? 

JASON:  Listen, some other blokes gone and bought it and I'm neither here nor there. I would like the name to continue and I think it will. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Thank so much for joining us and thank you to everybody for joining us tonight.  It's been great to hear your stories and that is all we have time for here but let's keep talking on social media. Thanks everyone.