More Family Businesses Put Reins In Women’s Hands

By Melissa Daniels
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

When Joanne Madros began learning the operations of Tarax Service Systems, all she needed to do was look to the desk four feet away, occupied by her father, George.

“My approach was to really observe,” she said. “Learn, listen, look. Ask as many questions as possible. Get some insight, get some direction.”

George Madros is CEO of Tarax, a commercial cleaning company with about 30 employees and dozens of regional clients, which he founded about 55 years ago.

Three years ago, the youngest of his four daughters stepped in to help run the operation, becoming president and on track to succeed her father.

Jayne Huston, director of Seton Hill University’s eMagnify center, has worked with female entrepreneurs for two decades, many of whom have taken over a family business.

When blood is involved, hiring, firing or transitions through generations are sensitive decisions, she said.

“It’s easy to say amongst peers, ‘don’t take it personally, it’s business,’ ” Huston said. “But in a family-owned business, it is kind of personal.”

As the younger Madros has learned the business, her father has learned to trust her instincts.

“I’ve given her a lot of rope in case I have to pull it in,” George said. “I would, but I haven’t.”

Fifty-five percent of family businesses in Pennsylvania say it is likely that control will remain in the family, according to 2013 Annual Pennsylvania Economic Survey. And more female entrepreneurs are starting businesses — or stepping into their father’s and grandfather’s shoes.

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