In the best of all possible worlds, the realization that guidelines are essential if the family wants the business to succeed from generation to generation is enough to get a family working on them. That's what's happening at MCI Products Group, a Plainview, New York-based family business that creates, develops and manufactures new products, ranging from collectibles to gifts and decorative items for clients. Brothers Mike and Bruce Zutler are the second-generation leaders of this company, started in 1970 by their father, Aaron.
"We're thinking about a whole slew of family business questions," says Mike. "Should spouses be allowed to work in the business? (Bruce is married; Mike isn't.) At what point and how will children come into the business? (Mike has no children; Bruce's are young.) Should children be required to work elsewhere first? We'd like to think through the problems before we have to face them."