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Avoiding family business pitfalls

By Rock LaManna | November 13, 2012

The Forlabels brothers show what it takes to thrive as a family.

Greece’s economic woes have been a fixture in the financial headlines over the past year.  One Greek family, however, has been moving in a different economic direction, avoiding the typical pitfalls that ensnare many family businesses.

The company is Forlabels, a family-owned label business based just outside Athens, Greece, and run by Avgerinos Chatzichryssos and his brother Vassillis. They were profiled in a recent LN&W article by Steve Katz.

In reading the article, I was impressed by how the brothers focus so intently on doing what’s right for the growth of the business, and to meet the needs of their customers. Here are some of the usual family business pitfalls they seem to have avoided:

1. Differences of the company vision between generations. The family was originally launched by the brothers’ mother.  While the article doesn’t delve into the succession that took place with the sons, the positive growth pattern indicates there was no significant differing in opinions between past and present visions of the company.  If anything, both generations seem solidly focused on the customer – the key to success for any business.

2. Failure to look outside the business. During Forlabel’s growth stage, they reached a point where the brothers were working long hours, as were their employees.  They expanded and hired, bringing in new sales professionals to help with the growth.  They weren’t shy about enlisting outside help to further growth.

3. Poorly prepared leaders of the next generation. All too often, the younger generations of a family business don’t match a patriarch or matriarch’s passion and work ethic.  In this case, the brothers developed a true love for the business.  Without it, an entrepreneurial endeavor is doomed to failure.

4. Treating it less like a business and more like a family. Can you be a professional when it comes to a family business? You have to be. All the messiness of a dysfunctional family, such as power struggles and fits of jealousy, can crush an enterprise.  The brothers’ business united focus, and long-term commitment is why they succeed.

Steve Katz’s article was written to show you how a smart family business thrives, and he focused on the successful practices employed by Forlabels. We didn’t learn of any behind-the-scene conflicts, but maybe there weren’t any conflicts to report. 

Maybe the family focus was where it should be – more on the business, and less on family differences. And that’s what it takes for any family business to thrive. 

Rock LaManna helps printing owners and CEOs use their company financials to prioritize and choose the proper strategic path. He is President and CEO of the LaManna Alliance, and provides guidance on how to grow a printing business, merge with a synergistic partner, make a strategic acquisition, or create a succession plan. Rock can be reached by email at

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