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Dads and daughters

  • Russ Mitchell, CEO of ATL Events, has worked with his daughter Sylvia Parkinson, general manager, for nearly a dozen years. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Families don't always get along, and neither do co-workers. So what happens when family members work together? When family businesses nurture the natural rapport between daughters and their fathers, the work can go very well indeed.

In previous generations, fathers who ran their own businesses dreamed of adding “& Son” to the sign out front. But times have changed.

We checked in at three Sonoma County businesses where fathers and daughters work together, all of them in settings where women managers once were rare — a general contractor, a winery and a company that stages events.

We found that their dedication to family — and that special bond between daughter and dad — fed their commitment to their work. It's not a matter of business policy for them. It's a way of life.

“When we were growing up and wanted to hang out with Dad, and he was working, we went with him. We learned a lot just by being there,” said Nancy Eddinger Madarus, of Eddinger Enterprises Inc., General Contractors. “He was bringing his daughters to work long before it became a national event.”

Jerry Eddinger, 75, still goes to work four days a week at the firm's office in a converted three-story house near downtown Healdsburg.

Founded by Jerry and his wife, Mary Lou, in 1968, the company builds both homes and commercial structures. Mary Lou currently serves as the company's president, with Jerry as treasurer.

Madarus, 50, vice-president, and her sister, Susie Eddinger Cavallo, 43, company secretary, both play leading roles in managing the business. (Nancy's husband, Kevin Madarus, also works there.)

“For my part, I don't have to worry,” Jerry said of working with his daughters. “I know that they'll take care of it. Susie does the payroll, Nancy does the bookkeeping, and so on. They both like building houses.”

Instead of straining the family ties, working together seems to strengthen them, Cavallo said. It actually makes it easier to schedule family dinners, or time with the four grandchildren, because everyone understands the demands of work.

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