The Women’s Affinity Group recently convened at All Weather Architectural Aluminum, a manufacturer of aluminum windows and doors for commercial and high-end residential in Vacaville, for an onsite tour of the facility and a presentation by the third generation family business. Sisters Anne and Sarah, along with their mother Maria, hosted the group. Topics of discussion included transitioning leadership from the second generation to the third, as well as frank talk of the daily trials, challenges and opportunities inherent in running a family business. 

All Weather, like many family businesses, has a long history of success.  Upon graduation from college and graduate school, the four Porter grandchildren – Anne, Sarah and brothers Tom and Seamus – returned to Vacaville to lend their expertise to the family business, started by their grandfather.  Anna, a natural leader and now serves as chairman of the board and the keeper of the most detailed product knowledge.  With an MBA, Sarah is the self-proclaimed communicator of the family, managing various technological projects for the business.  Seamus puts his engineering and law degrees to use by developing new products and assisting with litigation when it arises.  Accountant Tom manages the finances for All Weather’s related businesses.

Inside the AWAA showroom.

Now as third generation and equal co-owners of All Weather, the siblings have a successful story of transition to share. After counsel received through FBC, the family decided to hire a non-family CEO, a move the siblings are quick to tout. The siblings meet weekly to discuss strategic issues and their roles and responsibilities within the organization are fluid, changing to support the business as needed.

A primary take-away from the meeting is the idea that owners do not necessarily need to occupy a position on the org chart – non-traditional roles and functions outside the org chart can be highly productive and effective with regular, transparent communication and mutual respect.