Monday, October 15, 2012

Youngest Child

Youngest Child. Stitched words: I took over the family business. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stain muslin. Hand stitched. 25" x 31" unframed; 31" x 37" framed.  Click on image to enlarge.

Family businesses have been around...well...forever! Yet, it is a known fact that the transition from one generation to the next is a very, very difficult one. Traditionally, a family business is past from father to eldest son.... after years of apprenticeship and a very gradual process of "letting go" and "taking over". When the eldest son is unable or unwilling, the next son has an opportunity. When there are no sons, a daughter might get a chance. Rarely does the youngest child figure prominently, especially a girl!

That isn't the case here! Let me introduce my father and my youngest sister Sonya. The Cultural Studies Academy, ( was founded in 1963. It was initially a college credit summer program teaching the German language. It grew to include other subjects and courses that weren't "for academic credit". Along the way, Lenz Travel Services was established as a full service travel agency. Specialty tours were conducted to exotic places all over the world.  Airport Orbit, Inc. was added; it’s a shuttle and car service in western Pennsylvania. Property was bought too. There are several rental houses and offices that fall under the umbrella of this "family business".

Once upon a time, I was a part time secretary for The Cultural Studies Academy.... long before it grew into such a conglomerate. I went off to Ohio State University, got married, and started my own business. I never considered "taking over the family business" and it didn't consider me for the job either! The next daughter, as there are no sons, did work full time in the business for a few years. She had another calling. The third daughter also worked full time in the business for a few years but left as well. The job sort of became Sonya's.... whether she wanted it or not! She didn't intend to move back to Slippery Rock and take over but gradually, gently and with love and attention the transition came.

Sonya is a terrific businesswoman. My parents are both quite happy that the business that developed is in such capable hands.  She loves the business and the decision she made to take it into the future.

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