Two men, a father and a son, stand in their workshop. The man on the left is older, slightly shorter, with a shaved head and graying stubble. He wears a dark blue apron over a pale yellow checkered shirt. The man on the right is young, with some of his dark hair extended in thin braids with beads on the end. He wears a red T-shirt and has one arm around his father's shoulders. On the wall behind them are mounted several hand-carved guitars and banjos in various stages of completion.
It's not always easy to mix business with family, but many father-child teams find success by working together. — Getty Images/Diego Cervo

This Father’s Day, we’re highlighting small businesses owned by dads and their children. Some were entrepreneurs before having kids, while others were coaxed into it by their offspring. Regardless of how they got here, these five small businesses prove that sometimes a shared interest or goal conquers the challenges of mixing work with family.

Buscadero Motorcycles

Mike Lichfield turned his lifelong passion for motocross into a small business with the help of his son, Parker. The two came up with the idea to meld vintage style with modern features, and Buscadero Motorcycles was up and running within a year.

In 1979, Mike retrofitted his Honda XR185 for competitive racing and has been tinkering with his motorbikes ever since. Now, he is the head builder of his own unique line of pit bikes. A type of minibike used for recreational dirt biking, the pit bike was a strategic first choice for Buscadero Motorcycles due to its approachability over a standard motorcycle. The team sources the 110 cc pit bike frames from GPX Moto and customizes each one with vintage style fenders, plates, and seats.

An entrepreneur in his own right, Parker handles the business management side and marketing to grow the brand. Buscadero Motorcycles plans to introduce full-sized motorbikes in the near future.

B2E Solutions

When a client of David Jensen’s expressed their frustration about lackluster payroll providers on the market in 1993, David launched Payroll Data Services. A licensed CPA, he paired his expertise with the best payroll technology available and emphasized customer service. Today, Payroll Data Services is called B2E Solutions, and David’s daughter, Janelle Emanuele, runs the company alongside him.

B2E stands for business-to-employee, which is a relationship that David and Janelle believe deserves to be nurtured. Connection is the core of this small business and trickles down from ownership. David and Janelle eat lunch together nearly every day and strive to lead their employees with trust and honesty as their guides, which in turn should be passed on to their clients as well.

“Dad, can you make me a table?” spurred the beginning of the Neighbor’s Table journey.

As the company has evolved, it’s expanded its offerings. Although payroll services are still a focus, B2E Solutions also helps with other aspects of staff support such as onboarding, scheduling, and enrolling for benefits. This full suite of human capital management (HCM) products is generated by the software company UKG.

Julian & Sons

In 1985, Tom Julian left his career as a general contractor to start his own cabinetry and woodworking business. Once his sons, Jacob and Joe, were about high school age, they followed in Dad’s footsteps to help him keep up with demand. Julian & Sons crafts custom libraries, wine cellars, trophy rooms, and bar tops.

With the customer’s vision at the forefront of design, before a project begins, Julian & Sons first requires a get-to-know-you meeting to ensure mutual understanding. Joe Julian explains that they “help people tell their stories” through the displays they build, so they want their designs to reflect the customer’s personality. This attention to detail combined with the quality of materials used exceeds the current standards caused by mass production and fast furniture.

Gunner & Lux

Gunner & Lux may have been predestined for John Petersen and his daughter Riley. From the time Riley was born, John had collected vintage jewelry for her to wear and appreciate as she got older. Riley took a liking to these accessories and fashion in general, so John fostered her interest and had the idea to make their own jewelry. In 2015, when Riley was 5 years old, she used pieces from her own collection to create a new necklace.

John and Riley worked on necklaces after dinner until they had enough to sell. When their enterprise started, lemonade stands were the storefront. Then, Gunner & Lux made a website and opened an online store. With the rise of social media, the brand gained more popularity on Instagram and eventually caught the attention of retail giants like Barneys New York. By 2019, Gunner & Lux was being sold in more than 400 stores globally.

Walking the line between parent and co-owner isn’t always easy for John. “We sometimes butt heads at work and at home,” he said. But it’s also been rewarding in that he’s “loved watching [Riley] grow… [and decide] what works for her and what does not.”

Neighbor’s Table

“Dad, can you make me a table?” spurred the beginning of the Neighbor’s Table journey. Sarah Harmeyer always had a knack for connecting with people, but it wasn’t until she moved to Dallas and quit her job that she found her calling. In 2011, she called her retired dad, Lee, and asked him to build her a farmhouse-style table to put in her backyard. She began hosting folks for dinner parties and holidays, with the goal to serve 500 people in a year. As her number of guests grew, so did a bigger idea.

Finding herself happiest talking and laughing around the dinner table, Sarah turned this basic concept into her professional purpose, officially pulling Dad out of retirement. The father-daughter duo began selling and personally delivering tables to customers in the Dallas area. In keeping with her ultimate goal of spreading community, Sarah loves to share in the christening of the table — the first meal — and facilitates community events, turns strangers into friends, and reminds people what they have in common rather than how they’re different.

Unlike other product-based companies, Neighbor’s Table doesn’t have a simple “buy now” button on its website. Instead, any interested customers are to contact the business directly in order to discuss their prospective purchase. This sets Neighbor’s Table apart from other furniture companies in that the mission precedes the bottom line. Now, hand delivering all over the United States, Neighbor’s Table hopes to have tables in every state.

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