Family and Business – Do They Mix?

Woolpack Inn_Graham Kerr's_first civilian_job_after_military_service
Jun 24, 2016

Family and Business – Do They Mix?


Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world

Question #28
Rite of Passage 10 – The Oceans Beckon –
1957 to 1958 -I am twenty three to twenty seven years old

Q: Working with parents: It’s not always a good idea…did you begin this way…how did it turn out for you?

I really didn’t have anywhere to go after my army service and my parents needed help in their 15th century coaching inn in Tenterden, Kent –United Kingdom.

Woolpack Inn_Graham Kerr's_first civilian_job_after_military_service

It’s often like this, with the younger generation bringing in their understanding of newer technologies…especially nowadays during such rapid innovation?

If parents are willing, as mine were, it can be a godsend.

In my case I came into their successful Bar and Hotel business with a food idea and actually began to create dishes based upon local ingredients and invite customers to choose the ingredients they preferred and then I would create the dish. It was a success, in a small way, and an experience that would serve me well in later years. Remember this was back in 1957!

Then came the big disruption, the Suez Canal crisis and the economy, increased bank rates and gas rationing –that was the end of our family enterprise.

We were ‘’picked up” as a team to run the Royal Ascot Hotel and within a year my dad landed the management of the famed Gravetye Manor so I was finally on my own.

I had watched my parents at their work for over twelve years and gained so much from the patient integrity they used every single day.

So…what about now?

It has worked somewhat the same way with our children. Son Andy came for several seasons to pick up where a business relationship had come to the end of a contract. His ‘talented’ mother, who had produced almost all my shows to that date, coached him as my producer for a PBS series. He brought with him the technologies of the day and I must admit –it was fun!

I’m not sure he would say the same because I was still very certain about my direction and completely ‘dumb’ when it came to new electronic systems!

Last year, as we passed through the dark valley of Treena’s sudden illness, it was Kareena, our youngest daughter, who stepped in and helped makes sense of all the technical and medical conversations -I am blessed to have an “insider” help me navigate my way thorough these new medical technologies.

Finally our first daughter Tessa arrived with her husband Scott and she has become caregiver, secretary and social media ‘expert’; a tremendous asset, in some ways as ‘definite’ as her mother and in other ways very honoring to me…as I continue to grapple with how best to communicate to my modern world and remain consistent to my desire to ‘convert habits that harm into resources that heal’!

I do appreciate all my children’s wisdom. It helps that we all share a deep devotion to our faith as ‘wild salmon’ Christians moving upstream –seeking an inner resilience and avoiding judgment of others so that love might rule.

Working with family sure works for me!

This week I read Treena’s poem Unconditional Forgiveness



  1. Ira Krizo Says: 1:09 pm

    Your family story is such an intricate part of the family of God as well. Your family has proven to have different strengths that have complemented one another to propel your lives on a blessed journey. Similarly to our lives in God – we aren’t all meant for the same roles in His kingdom, but all are just as important!

  2. Lynn Severance Says: 6:31 pm

    It is heartwarming to read of Graham’s early experiences learning the culinary craft from his parents and feeling inspired and prepared to launch out on his own. We, who know about the life he fashioned over the years, know his success from that start with his parents. It was a good collaboration.

    Equally heartwarming – perhaps more – is to read of how Graham and Treena’s children have now become integral participants “back home” during these later years as they have come into their individual callings. It is obvious they have been of invaluable help but all of it give and take among the whole and with each need.

    I see “family” as it was meant to be, as designed by God, and how refreshing is that view!

  3. Mary Lou Childs Says: 3:31 pm

    I LOVE Treena’s poem about forgiveness!!! What a way with words she had. I can’t wait to meet her some day, in the heavenly realm. 🙂 She had to be quite a lady and I would’ve loved her, I’m sure. /// Now, as to doing business with family? My husband and I did it ONE time and it was a dismal failure. Hubby had a business he wanted to “retire” from but not sell, so my brother and his wife came in on it. We had no sooner gotten them moved in and handed it over when they informed us that they had made a “mistake” and wanted out. My husband could have blown his stack but didn’t, desiring more to keep harmony within my very large family. He did require my brother to pay a legal bill that was necessary to dissolve our agreement. It has never been spoken of since, like it never happened. I would never go into business with a family member again, though.

  4. Sally Andrews Says: 11:46 am

    What an inspirational message Graham. I sometimes look at winery families and how they all work together, each bringing their own particular skills to the business and wonder what it would have been like to have that as a family. With a Dad traveling the world, marketing trucks, building villages, and then in travel…. and then as a lay preacher, and a Mum working in plants and other various jobs, it was never really an option for me. I think those who are fortunate enough to have a business to bring their kids into are very fortunate and remember that blessing whenever there is a disagreement. After all disagreements allow growth and change, and that is a good thing. It’s just hard sometimes to separate family and business.

  5. Jean N. Sozio Says: 10:10 am

    Perhaps in the immediate family with loving fair minded parents. I was fortunate to have been employed by both sibling family and in-law family as well as friends. I found in all 3 situations a form of Jekyl and Hyde personality in my associates. Truly there is a face you show your family and then there is one that is the business person. More often than not the family does now really see the business person. I found it hard to separate what I had learned of both. I finally determined for myself that business is best left amongst peers and strangers and not family. Have family for love and business for prosperity but never the two together. Family should not be a position of lording over each other or controlling each other’s destiny unless mutually advantageous for all. It’s not good for one to be slave to another’s greed amongst the family or friends – – very dangerous. Let each one hoe his own way.

  6. Berdenia Broes Says: 10:00 am

    I am SO VERY HAPPY and relieved that your Family is close to you especially during this very difficult time having to had relied upon Treena for so many years as a BEAUTIFUL partner . She was AMAZING. I so remember massaging you both up at the 108 Ranch at Henry Blocks home…..Henry died not too long ago, of having Parkinson’s for many years….and I remember hearing Treena singing in the Spirit….she was certainly a GIFT……are you still in Washington State..? My daughter in law still lives in Redmond, as well as my granddaughters….ALWAYS PRAYING for you, and ask that the Lord God BLESS you abundantly…..

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