Four rising stars in the Queens business sector, all of whom represent the second generation of successful family-operated businesses, shared their strategies for success and the advantages – and challenges – associated with being involved in a family business during a Queens College Business Forum.
Steve Chen, executive vice president for Crystal Window & Door Systems; Benjamin Levine, assistant vice president for Douglaston Development; Jerry Pi, director of Pi Capital Partners, LLC; and Patricia Flores, president of Publimax Printing Corp. answered questions as part of a panel discussion on Friday, October 15, at Queens College.
Throughout the discussion, all of the panelists talked about trust being one of the biggest advantages of working in a family business. They also spoke about growing up in the business and being able to learn the ins-and-outs of the company starting at a young age.
“I think that once you understand the operations of how your organization works at that point then you think about ways of improving and that’s where the entrepreneurial spirit really has to kick in,” Pi said.
Chen, who runs the day-to-day operations of Crystal Windows & Door Systems headquartered in College Point, agreed.
“It’s very important to keep that entrepreneurship alive,” Chen said. “You have to keep taking risks and chances . . . and not be afraid to change.”
While all of the business leaders agreed that being involved in a family business, especially at a young age, can be stressful at times, there are things that you can do immediately to make things easier.
“When you’re part of a family business especially when you are young, which all of us are, you really need to earn the respect of the people that you work with, and the way you do that is by working hard,” Levine said.
The Queens College Business Forum was launched in the fall of 2005 and was designed to bring together the business community, local government, academia and students to provide an opportunity for town and gown to interact.
Influential leaders in a number of fields serve as keynote speakers at a series of breakfast lectures, touching on issues vital to the Queens business community. The forum’s theme this year, looking toward the future, is reflected in the subject matter of the seminars.
The Queens Borough President’s Office, Queens Chamber of Commerce, The Queens Courier, Queens Economic Development Corp., Farrell Fritz P.C., PricewaterhouseCoopers and TD Bank sponsor the forum.