2017 Family Business Student Award Winner

Geoffrey Wildish

Which family business author do you recommend?

Randell Carlock

What are your short-term career goals?

My short-term career goal is to develop my project management skills in the construction industry. I’m currently a project engineer for Hoffman Construction Company and my goal is to continue to grow and develop my skills and never stop learning.

Long-term career goals?

My longer term career goals are to manage large scale construction projects that make an impact in my community.

What is your earliest family business memory?

My earliest memories are of visiting my dad, grandfather, and great uncles at the office. My dad would sometimes pick my brother and I up from school and we would play with rubber bands and paper clips passing the time before my dad got off work. We would also go around the office and collect money for the boy scouts, selling pop corn or candy bars. One of the more impactful memories I had was at a company picnic held every year in August. I was probably 10 or 11 and there was this old orange  tractor loader, and I loved the color orange. I asked to get on it and did with my grandfather as I sat on his lap. My grandparents still have a picture of this moment in their house. It is a constant reminder of how my life was shaped by the hard work and generosity of my family.

What is the best advice that you've received about family businesses?

I have two pieces of information/advice that I received about family business. The first is everyone that comes from a family business encounters pretty much the same problems (a.k.a you’re not alone). I was amazed that students from very different businesses all had similar problems with communication, succession planning, and balancing work and family connections. These challenges are inherent to every family businesses. Knowing this empowered me, and made me look at my situation with greater confidence that there is a way to move forward. The second best piece of advice is the power of a third party (especially in governance). Having a non-biased individual or group of individuals that can provide solid business advice and guidance is priceless in a family business. There is a do-it-yourself entrepreneurial quality to family businesses that is empowering, but asking for help and advice is sometimes the best thing to do when facing new challenges.

What were your roles in Wildish when you started working there at 16?

I worked directly with my twin brother, which was a challenge. We mainly worked in the warehouse, working on organization and doing odd manual labor tasks. We would sweep the mechanic’s shop, organize traffic cones, and the most fun task my brother and I were given was to go on parts runs to the local businesses. We drove around a van for a week picking up parts for the construction equipment. When we ran out of tasks we would drive a water truck around the construction yard to keep the dust down. I learned how to drive a stick shift from the equipment manager that summer.

What advice do you have for other family business students?

The best thing you can do is to talk to other people who come from a family business, including people your own age and seasoned professionals. Chances are someone you talk to has already been through a very similar situation and can provide advice on what to do or not do. It also helps put situations in perspective and look at the bigger picture. I learned the most applicable knowledge by taking the family business management class.

What's your favorite downtime activity?

I really enjoy hiking and exploring Seattle since I recently moved there.