Steven Kraus not only runs a third generation family business, Skyline Windows, but also a business full of families. Based in Bronx, New York, the company was founded in 1921 by his grandfather, Sam Kraus. David Kraus, Steven's dad, took over the company in 1948. David passed the reigns to Steven, who is grooming his son, Matthew, to become CEO. Steven's brother and sister also work at the company.
In a time when many companies struggle with employee retention, his family business model has supported a culture where many employees have stayed for more than 20 years and refer their family members for employment. I wanted to know Skyline's secrets to longevity and loyalty. Here's what I learned:
Share your burdens like a family
During the economic downturn everyone in the company took a slight pay cut. Steven operated the business with the understanding that they would have a lower margin.
"It was the best decision we made," says Steven, who attributes that decision and similar ones to why his family of families are loyal and perform well. "When we face problems, we all suffer together. But when it works, it feels good." Senior team members of Skyline have children, nieces and nephews who work there. Steven's brother is the longest tenured salesman in Skyline's custom division and has cultivated some of the company's largest, high-profile building accounts over 30 years.
I believe that family is a powerful tool for community development and I wanted to know the impact of Steven's family business in his area. It turns out that another key ingredient to Steven's ability to garner loyalty is the fact that he hires at least 20 percent of his workforce in a community that's been hard hit.
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