Monday, December 12, 2011

Working The Family Business

A boy helps his father glaze mortars for their shop

My guess is some of you grew up in a family that ran a business of one sort or another, as I did.  While it's not always an ideal situation it's often a good way to learn some healthy work habits. My family's business gave us all an opportunity to learn the meaning of dedication and endurance in addition to hard work, and while we didn't all go on to own successful businesses of our own later in life, some of us did; and that early experience has been a leg up in the business world we all appreciated later on, even if not right at the time!

Girl packaging Q-Tips for her family to sell
My best friend grew up picking coffee on the family farm in the South Pacific, as did his parents - and grandparents.  The difference was that earlier generations tended to stick close to home (my friend's mother lives five miles from the house she was born in) and the more current ones tend to strike out on their own for other places and other careers.  Today 90% of the high school seniors from that area leave their home island and head off to college or work elsewhere, as my friend did.

While many of the families I've met outside of the cities in Thailand - especially the farmers - are happy to have their children stay and help plant, harvest and keep the place going, it's seemed that traditions are being altered, as they often will be in any developing culture or country, and education and other jobs away from home are becoming less of an exception. One friend there grew up with his parents selling food from a cart near a factory, and now he's working a lucrative job in the electronics field.

Those with a healthy work ethic can be seen getting an education while still being an active part of the family business, regardless of what that is.  While a farming family may not have the income to pay for advanced schooling past the basic government education, where there's a will there's often a way.  One farmer's son I've known many years found a way to take out student loans and put himself through school, and now has a job that now only allows him more of the life he'd dreamed of but also the opportunity to help his family during slim times.  That family bond is usually strong in Thailand, and I think that's a good thing.

Partners working in their motorcycle repair shop

We're deliberately leaving the Fast Money workers out of the mix today, and just taking a look at a few regular folks - the people you may walk by and not notice while out and about; the everyday Joes and Janes.  I have a great deal of admiration for these folks, especially those bonded by blood or friendship who can make a go of things.  There, as here, I tend to be more inclined to pay a little more to help support a family establishment than a corporate one, be that a food cart, a cobbler or seamstress on the sidewalk or some other small, hole-in-the-wall business.

It reminds me of where I came from, and it makes me feel good to think that I might be helping someone rather like myself out.  It seems to work best if we pass it on.

A man working in an electronics repair shop in Pattaya

1 comment:

khunbaobao said...

Eduard left a comment on yesterday's post that I'm sorry I can't move here, where I think he intended it to be. He said:

"The family bond can be too strong that it can be exasperating when he has to choose between his family & his partner."

The idea of marriage adds a whole new level to family interactions in most any culture, and how it affects things depends on a wider number of things, as well... and if you add coming out of the closet to the mix it's even more difficult, I agree.