The Berman family has been in the real estate brokerage business for four generations, specializing in buying and selling commercial real estate such as apartment complexes and shopping centers. "So when my son David, who had been in the business for six years, saw an opportunity two years ago for us to get involved in a [different] type of real estate vehicle--single-tenant, net-leased properties--I was somewhat resistant," says Gerald Berman, senior principal of Advance Realty Co. in Great Neck, New York.
"Though David did a tremendous amount of research, and the idea was sound, I wasn't about to change the company's whole method of operation," says Gerald. "I decided to continue what we had always done, and this became our financial safety net while David developed his concept.
"We set up a schedule to measure his progress," he says. "My role in David's project was to ask questions to broaden his thinking." Now that project is in full swing, working successfully.
"When I asked my father for advice on one issue," recalls David, 35, "he'd often go beyond the narrow scope of the question and start reviewing the basics with me. Then I'd have to say, `I already know what to do about that. Let's just stick to the point.' "
"It's true," says Gerald. "I probably try to guide him too much. But he's proved himself to be such a fine associate that I'm learning to mind my own business."--P.S.E.
Patricia Schiff Estess is the author of Remarriage and Your Money(Little, Brown) and former editor of Sylvia Porter's Personal Financemagazine.
Advance Realty Co., 107 Northern Blvd., P.O. Box 220411, Great Neck, NY 11022-0411, (516) 466-3510
Ivan Lansberg, 100 Whitney Ave., #1, New Haven, CT 06510, (203) 497-8855
Michael O'Malley, c/o Family Business Dynamics, 2102 N. Clifton, Chicago, IL 60614, (312) 477-0247.