Four businesswomen who followed the filial path to success.

OUTSIDE THE SMALL OAK CLIFF BUSINESS HANGS A SIGN identifying the occupant of the vine-covered office building: “Smallwood and Son.” Some years ago, Joe Small-wood realized that his sign was just wishful thinking. He had had no sons to work in his business, which manufectures aircraft parts for government contracts. But he doesn’t work alone. And he does have a very capable heir to keep his business going. His daughter, Sandi Smallwood, is the “son” referred to in the company name. She is now general manager of Smallwood and Son.

Men have followed the filial path into the business world for centuries. Now, more and more women are opting to enter into the world of their father’s businesses-and with good reason. For many women, the family business is the fastest route to the top, an express lane to higher pay and more meaningful job responsibilities. Working for their fathers has led to greater job flexibility, more independence, and deep personal satisfaction. And, women in family businesses say, they can look down the road and see future ownership of the firm as part of their career plan. They know it will be up to them to fulfill the family’s dreams and business aspirations in the next generation.

But there are drawbacks to following in father’s footsteps. Some women have decided they would be better off on their own. They quit their father’s businesses because they were tired of hearing that they held their jobs because the boss was their father. They were pegged as daddy’s little girl from the start, an image they felt did them harm in the business world.

Each of the women profiled in the next four pages has experienced some of the same problems. Each has a different story, but they all cite the same reasons for staying where they are today. They like meeting a challenge. They enjoy the financial security and the job flexibility. And, they love the excitement of learning from their fathers.


Kathy B a s c o n e and Anthony B a s c one

THE RESPONSE TO THE QUESTION “IS THERE A DOCTOR in the house?” may bring a bit of confusion if you’re asking at the Bascone home. Not one, but two physicans will come running, black bags in hand, prepared to answer the call for help. Both father and oldest daughter are osteopaths, but only one planned on having it that way.

“When Kathy announced that she wanted to go to med school, I was on the admissions board for the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth,” says Dr. Anthony Bascone. “Each time the board encountered an applicant that was the son or daughter of a doctor, we had to ask the children a lot of tough questions. We had to make sure that these kids were here because they wanted to be here-not because their father or mother wanted it for them. If they were doing it for someone else, we knew they would never make it through the program.”

His daughter got no special favors. “I really scrutinized Kathy’s motives, questioned her moves, tried to discourage her from becoming a doctor just because I was a doctor.”

But Kathy refused to be unnerved by the warnings of her father. “When I was two years old,” says Kathy, “my father graduated from med school, and while I was learning to walk, my dad was doing his internship. Being surrounded by his world was a huge influence on me but the choice was mine, not his. His only expectation for me was to be happy and 1 love what I am doing.”

Anthony Bascone knows firsthand what the life of a resident can be like. Kathy, who finished her internship in Chicago last year and started her residency program in Norfolk, says an average day began before 8 a.m. with morning rounds and often stretched well into the evening or early morning hours. “My favorite assignment was the emergency room. I saw a lot of accident victims and also got my share of heart attack patients. But you’d be surprised at the number of people who came to the emergency room complaining of a cold, sore throat, or upset stomach.” In addition to her rounds in ER, Kathy was on night duty every third day, which put her on call at the hospital thirty-six hours straight. To add to her load, she was also responsible for answering all patient calls at the local family practice clinic.

“It’s always challenging and changing and I love my work and the people. My profession forces you to be sharp, quick-thinking, fast-acting. And I think I’m a success because I am so gung-ho about what I am doing,” says Kathy.

Last month, Kathy returned to Dallas, hoping to work in the hospital whose hallways have been home to her father for twenty years, Wherever her practice leads her, her dad knows she made the right choice. “Kathy grew up with a gleam in her eye. I never doubted that she would do something great with her life.”


Gloria E u I i c h Nun I ey and John E uIich

HER FORMAL EDUCATION QUALIFIES HER TO TEACH children with learning disabilities, but her sharp business instincts and strong family ties sent her into the real estate world. Gloria Eulich Nunley, the oldest daughter in the Eulich family, sits in the president’s seal of Stonebridge Investments, an offshoot of her father’s sprawling real estate company. Vantage Properties. What Gloria didn’t know, she quickly learned. The rest was a golden streak of talent, hard work, and a fierce love for her father’s business.

“For as far back as I can remember, I went with my father to look at properties,” says Gloria. “Every Saturday and Sunday, we’d pile in the car and spend the afternoon driving around, scoping out raw land. I looked on this time as our time together, one on one, and it never occurred to me that I would get into this business full-time. I just enjoyed the time with my dad.”

Gloria joined the business in 1976 as a marketing representative and leased so much office space (two-and-a-half million square feet) that she was recognized as Rookie of the Year. For the next two years, Gloria would hold the record for the largest number of leasing transactions.

“When 1 started here, I was the only woman in the office leasing property. The men were young and just didn’t know what to do with me. Without any help from them, I started making cold calls, slowly building up my inventory. After they saw that I had proved myself, they quit thinking of me as just the boss’s daughter.”

Of all of Gloria’s achievements, her father is proudest of the fect that his daughter isn’t “impressed with herself. She treats all people with respect.” Gloria says this is something she’s picked up from her dad. “My dad taught me at a very early age to look at each individual as being a very important person. It just amazes me that my father knows every single person in the company, on job sites, and in his buildings by name. It doesn’t make a difference to him if it’s the air conditioner repairman or a board member. And I think this has been a key to his success. He has chosen good people who are very loyal to John Eulich.”

But Gloria has also learned that her father wants her to make mistakes, even costly ones, so that she can learn to work her way out of them. “He has always taught me to be independent and to make a decision on my own-even if it’s the wrong choice.”

And John admits he’s been tough on his daughter. “I treat her exactly the same as any of the other young executives I work with on a daily basis. If anything. I have probably been more demanding of her from a results standpoint. 1 have gone out of my way to give her freedom and autonomy to make her own decisions. In essence, Gloria has had to run her own show and has learned a great deal in doing so.”


Karen Mann and Eddy Mann

NEXT TIME YOU’RE ON THE DALLAS NORTH TOLLWAY, glance at either side of the busy thoroughfare and see what has earned Eddy Mann and Associates Inc. its success and its million-dollar profits over the last twenty-five years. Those white concrete screening walls that grace the Tollway, shielding the nearby neighborhoods from the roar of traffic, are Eddy Mann’s bread and butter. And, lucky for Mann, who just turned sixty-seven, he has an intelligent, business-minded, quick-on-her-feet associate waiting in the wings to carry on when he retires. He has his daughter.

It wasn’t always like that. Karen Mann, the only one of five children to enter the family business, was graduated from the University of Texas in 1972 and headed east to New York to pursue every college graduate’s dream of taking the town. She did it. starting with U.S. Telephone as a major account representative responsible for selling direct access lines to Fortune 500 companies. In less than ten months, Karen generated $650,000 of new business and was promoted to northeast regional program manager.

However, things started to sour. “Having lived in New York for eight years, I had had my fill of the noise and the crowds and knew that this just wasn’t quality living,” says Karen. Aboul the same time, U.S. Telephone was merging with U.S. Telecom and she knew that her career with the company would go no farther. “I knew that the chance of my advancing to an upper-level management position was next to impossible. The company had no women in important decision-making roles.”

And then her dad called. “Eddy [she calls him Eddy, not Dad] asked me to come home and join him in the business for a one-year trial basis. If the partnership was working at the end of that first year, he would draw up a detailed plan outlining my future ownership.”

In a business of hard hats, long hours, and dirt-flying construction sites, Karen has been as tough as nails. “I had three business goals the first year 1 was here-to learn the business as quickly as possible, to make contacts in the field, and to develop a promotional piece for the company,” says Karen. Eddy is proud to say that his daughter has accomplished all three.

“I wanted so badly to prove to my falher that I could do his business-to have a good showing-and 1 think he was surprised by my success, determination, and gutsiness.”

Karen is now midway through her second year as Eddy’s right-hand man, and any reservations her father might have had about leaving the future of his company to his daughter are forgotten. “When Karen was growing up I used to introduce her as my oldest son. I have five children and I knew a long time ago that the only one that could handle the job was Karen.”


Leslie D i e r s and Lester M e I n i c k

PHOTOS OF HIS DAUGHTERS LINE THE LONG HALLWAY that leads to the spacious corner office of Lester Melnick. Sitting on his paper-strewn desk is a single pink rose, a gift from his garden. The soft-spoken Melnick leans over the stacks of phone messages and swatches of fabric and says, with fatherly pride, that the proudest day of his life was when Leslie Diers, his second of the three Melnick daughters, walked into his office and accepted a full-time position in the family business. He was proud, but not surprised. Leslie has been by her father’s side all along.

“Daddy opened his first clothing store when 1 was five,” says Leslie. “I went to a preschool that was located right across the alley from our Preston Royal store. Every day at noon, one of the teachers would take me by the hand and walk me across the alley where I’d knock on the back door of the shop. At five, I was already hanging clothes and stuffing credit statements.”

Leslie has always been in her father’s business. In countless hours after school (she was responsible for selling Hockaday its uniforms in her high school years) and during summers home from college, Leslie worked at learning every job in the Lester Melnick chain.

She has few regrets that the Melnick clothing business is the only trade she’s ever known. “When I had my first baby [she’s now nine months old], I thought I would regret the change I’d have to make in my workload, trying to juggle my daughter’s routine with my job. But my father has been very kind and understanding. He has allowed me to work in the office two days a week and has installed a computer in my house so that I can work the other three days at home, at least until the baby is in school,” says Leslie.

Lester is delighted that there’s yet another girl in the family and he’s quick to add that he’ll be very curious to see how this schedule works out for Leslie and for his company. “Before the birth of her daughter, Leslie was so absorbed in the business that I was beginning to wonder if she would ever stop and start a family. It’s a two-edged sword. I’m very happy that she is a mother and at the same time, curious about her future here. But, I am giving her the gift of time. She is my hope for my future, my plan for succession.”

But Leslie doesn’t see her sixty-one-year-old father as ever officially retiring. “He’ll always have his hand in the business-it’s been his life. I don’t necessarily think he rests easy at night, knowing I’m next in line, especially since my interests have been divided since the baby was born. But I know he feels I can do the job and he knows how much I care.”

Leslie says her plans are, as always, to work side by side withher father. “I am the only family member involved, but that’s notreally the reason why I’m here. I want to be here. I’ll always wantto be a part of his company.”


Keep me up to date on the latest happenings and all that D Magazine has to offer.