Stronger Together: The Family Advantage

By Craig Ruppert, CEO

There’s been a lot written on the pros and cons of working for a family-owned business. But what is less talked about is the competitive advantage that comes with having employees refer their family members to work in the company. It’s something we’ve done for many years in the Ruppert culture, and it’s led to multiple generations and layers of family relationships all working together. At last count, about 12% of our workforce was related with relationships that range from fathers and sons and husbands and wives to brothers in law and cousins. Can it be challenging? Yes! But in my opinion, when practiced fairly with some parameters, hiring family members can be an asset.

Attracting Like-Minded People

Finding and keeping hard-working employees that fit with your company culture can be a challenge. There is often a lot of effort and a big investment that goes with finding the right person for the right position. When you have an employee who is willing to use their sphere of influence to invite family members to join your team it can have big advantages. Family members often share the same work ethic, and the existing employee can help streamline the indoctrination process that occurs with any new job, ensuring that they’ll be a better fit for your culture for the long-term.

Long-Term Commitment

We have a concept in our organization that when we hire, we like to hire for life. When there are multiple family members working for a company, we are upping the ante with ensuring that two or three family members are content and in it for the long-haul. The responsibility that company management feels increases exponentially as the care of a family, and not just an individual, has been entrusted to the organization. Conversely, that same level of commitment from the employee(s) to the organization’s long-term success also rises, ensuring high performance. When both employer and employee are looking at the 10-20 year horizon, it ties the two together in a common bond that helps with both parties’ long-term success. For a customer, it means an organization that has employee continuity and will go the extra mile to ensure satisfaction and the continuation of a long-term relationship.


When working with people who you know and enjoy, there is often better communication and an intrinsic desire for cooperation that exists. Camaraderie—whether developed over time by working together or existing through familiar relationships—certainly adds spirit, enthusiasm and fun in a workplace, and in the long run, can increase productivity. It’s a big compliment when someone thinks enough of your business to refer someone to you as a potential customer. Referring a family member to work with your company is equally as flattering. When an employee thinks enough of their employer to refer their mother or son or cousin to apply, it’s an implicit endorsement of the company, the opportunity that exists, and its long-term prognosis. By continuing to cultivate family relationships on our team, we think it provides us with a tangible advantage with like-minded individuals, working together toward a common, long-term goal. So, keep referring your family members!

Best Practices

When referring a family member, there are some best practices that can help minimize potential issues.

  • Avoid having family members directly manage one another. This can minimize the appearance of favoritism within the organization or disagreements within families.
  • Maintain a level of professionalism. Keep family discussions and disagreements at home and not in the workplace.
  • Hold everyone to the same standards. Candidates for a job should be qualified with the education or special skills that are required to do the position and they should be held to the same salary range and performance expectations.

By being aware of best practices, there is an increased chance of success when hiring family members.