April 17, 2024

The Family Business:  Now Run by Women

By Ross Boissoneau | Oct. 27, 2018

 Sons following their fathers into the family business is trope as old as time. But daughters joining their mothers? Thanks in no small part to some post-war revolution and several decades of advancement in women’s rights, we’re seeing generations of women not only rising through the ranks but also blazing their own trails. We caught up with several mothers and daughters to find out why they teamed up, what makes them — and their business — tick, and how their work impacts their relationship. 

Donna Gundle-Krieg & Ellie Krieg
D&K Real Estate
Donna Gundle-Krieg decided she’d had enough. After years of vacationing at Shanty Creek Resort, she told her husband, Dennis, that they were done going back downstate. 

She began working in Up North real estate. But three years of selling for someone else convinced her that she’d be better served by opening her own brokerage. She put her husband to work, and then she enlisted her No. 1 hire, daughter Ellie. 

“My husband and I moved to Mancelona, and that is where I now do most of my business,” Gundle-Krieg said. “I love the community and have sold over 100 houses there in the past couple of years.” 

Meanwhile, what of the daughter she persuaded to join her? “I was working as a paralegal when my mom decided to start her own brokerage and approached me about becoming a licensed Realtor. I saw her passion for the business and loved the idea of being my own boss, so joining her was a no-brainer,” said Ellie Krieg. 

What makes their partnership even more interesting is that they’ve each carved out their own region in which to concentrate. Donna primarily sells in the Mancelona area, while daughter Ellie works Traverse City and Interlochen. “We each cover different geographic areas, so we’re pretty independent of each other, but are able to help each other out when needed,” said Ellie.

In a business where there are numerous large brokerages, many of which are national franchises, doing business as a small three-person operation (Dennis is also licensed as both a Realtor and a builder) is a challenge. “It can be difficult to compete with the big-name brokers in town,” admitted Ellie, “but many people love that we are a small family business.” 

Angie, Jackie, and Sophie Cranney (pictured)
Archer Full Throttle
If it’s tough competing with several others in an area, then what’s it like to go up against the world? Angie Cranney owns and operates her own Harbor Springs archery business, but while she maintains a small storefront, the bulk of her business is online. So Archer Full Throttle is not only competing against the large sporting goods stores in the region, but every other retailer that’s online. 

She came to the business through her own interest in archery and hunting, and daughters Jackie and Sophie share her zeal. And subsequently the online business as well. “Both my daughters are involved. Jackie is now at school at Northern Michigan University, but she still shoots and competes,” said Angie. 

Both daughters are certified archers and instructors. Jackie has earned her Level 2 archery instructional certification, while Sophie has her level 1 and will take her level 2 when she turns 17 in January. 

Angie comes by her vocation after a lifetime of hunting. “I grew up next to Fred Bear,” she said. She took her degree in merchandising management and after years of experience in corporate marketing and sales, found her true calling by following her passion. And having daughters do the same has helped too.

“Social media has been a challenge [for me]. My wonderful younger daughter [Sophie] will do the updates on Facebook. Instagram is all her.”

“We have a decent following,” said Sophie, who said she first started helping with the family business when she was a “little, little girl. I came to enjoy it.”

She said shooting is for her both pleasurable and relaxing. “The feeling when you’re shooting is peaceful. I’ve done it since I can remember.” 

Sister Jackie is similarly enthusiastic, about both the business and archery. “I love what my mom does. It’s awesome,” she said. “I don’t remember how old I was when I started shooting.”

The business has grown by leaps and bounds. “It started out small; last year we did just under $2 million,” said Angie.

Kellie Parkes, Ashley Parkes, and Betty
Hallmark Manistee
For Kellie Parkes, the decision to go into retail was based on a tip about an opportunity from a veteran of the industry. Both she and her husband had been in the financial industry, and decided that they wanted to remain in Manistee after leaving their jobs. Parkes learned the local Hallmark shop might be available through an inside source: her mom had worked there for years, and told Kellie that the owners were looking to sell.

“My husband and I were looking for a reason to stay here,” said Parkes. Hallmark corporate also wanted to maintain a presence in Manistee, hopefully a larger one than the previous 1,500 square foot storefront.

Turned out the former JC Penney store was available, and at 7,500 square feet, it was plenty large enough. Too big, as it turned out, and in 2009 Parke moved the operation again, to a location on the west end of River Street that seemed just right at 3,500 square feet. 

All this time, her mother, Betty, had continued to work at the store. “Mom never left,” she said with a laugh. “She has a knack for doing displays and organizing products.” 

They were joined by Kellie’s daughter, Ashley, making it for a time three generations of mothers and daughters. “My daughter worked for me in high school and college,” said Parkes. After graduation, Ashley left to work for Steelcase in Grand Rapids.

“It’s been fun,” said Parkes of working with her daughter and her mother, though she noted Betty has been on an extended hiatus.  “She’s 79 and slowing down. She hasn’t been here in about a year – she’s recovering from back surgery. She misses it.”

Dr. Susan Noble & Dr. Brittany Lister
Northern Michigan Dermatology
Brittany Lister grew up watching her mom work. “I saw from mom’s perspective how much she enjoyed her job. She was a smart, professional woman. She was intellectually stimulated and came home happy from work. I was always really proud of her,” Lister said.

So she decided to follow in her mom’s footsteps — “I had some of the same interests: science, medicine, anatomy,” she said — and today Dr. Lister is on staff at Northern Michigan Dermatology alongside her mom, Dr. Susan Noble. “We are both board-certified dermatologists.”

“It’s like a dream come true,” said Noble. “It’s something I never requested or planned for. When she was figuring out what specialty she wanted, I think she tried to like every other specialty. But she loved dermatology.” 

Lister agreed. “I wasn’t interested in dermatology, but it fit my interests and abilities. You have a long-term relationship with patients and do some surgery. I love it.”

Noble also lauded her partners at the practice for welcoming her daughter with open arms. “I wanted her to get into a good practice that wouldn’t take advantage of her.”

She said the mother-daughter dynamic allows them to freely interact and consult with one another. “She knows all the latest, and I have the experience. We complement one another.”

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