Big meets small

Many family businesses face the problem of staying focused on long-term goals.

Day-to-day problems provide constant distractions, and family members in leadership positions are often clamoring for the sales that keep the company going. Long-term objectives get lost in the shuffle.

Richard Kiko Jr. was brought in by his family to make sure the family businesses continue to succeed and grow. Kiko, who has the title of vice president for both Russ Kiko Associates, an auction firm, and its sister company, Richard T. Kiko Agency, a real estate firm, worked in various leadership positions at major corporations including Procter & Gamble, Borden and Eagle Family Foods.

He is now applying the concepts he learned at Fortune 100 companies to the 60-employee family business.

“One of the things I see here from my experience from P&G and Borden is that we have applied a lot of industry types of best practices,” says Kiko. “We have a board elected by stockholders, for example. The board votes on a lot of issues. There is a democracy and not just one person calling the shots.”

This structure establishes the fundamental blocks for sound business practices and helps guarantee that policies are fair to all employees, not just family members.

“On the other side, one thing I’ll say is that we haven’t lost our sense of intuition,” says Kiko. “When you go to a Fortune 100 company, you have to give a lot of facts. Here we do a lot more off of our intuition, know-how and experience. At a big corporation, no one knows each other, so you really have to make your case with cold facts, and that was one of the biggest obstacles to the big company.

“We were slow to move, but when we did, we moved fast and hard. Here, we get the facts, but there is more based on experience.”

Meshing the best practices of the corporate world within the confines of the close-knit family business has been made easier by the fact that he is a family member.

“I had the experience and the opportunity to come back,” says Kiko. “The company was open and conducive for me to apply these best practices. I’ve been somewhat of a change agent, creating more efficient operations, solidifying our market strategy and managing the business a little differently. I’ve been setting the stage for the strategic direction for the future. A lot of family businesses lose sight of that. To do that, they often have to go outside the company and grab someone.

“I was the insider that has never been inside. We have the luxury that I am a family guy. I’m a blood relative. They know they can trust me because I’m a brother, a nephew or a cousin. They know I’m not just here for me. I understand that my name is the business and the business is my name. A lot of people in a non-family business don’t have to deal with that.”

Kiko is managing the company, but 50 percent of his time is still dedicated to selling.

“The president, CEO and chairman are full-time sales,” says Kiko. “As part of my compensation, I get paid for managing the company as well as selling. I’m the first one to do that. They find value in giving someone compensation for work done internally versus just commissions.

“I’m probably more of a general manager of the business than anybody else has been up to this point. When the board says we’ve got seven things to do, they all look at me to get them done, but that’s my role. Before, the tasks were absorbed amongst them, but it was never a priority because they were out selling.” How to reach: Russ Kiko Associates or Richard T. Kiko Agency, (330) 453-9187

Downloading salaries

According to the ITtoolbox Salary Survey, information technology professionals in the United States and United Kingdom are paid the most, compared with those in other countries.

Professionals in these countries can expect to earn an annual salary in excess of $80,000 (all figures in U.S. dollars), with other regions lagging considerably behind.

The breakdown:

* U.S. supply chain and storage and specialists are at the high end of the salary spectrum, with $112,129 and $108,346 respectively.

* Linux specialists and networking professionals are at the low end, with salaries of $57,721 and $53,250.

* Wireless specialists should head to Canada, where the average salary in that discipline is more than $176,000; Oracle experts are a distant second at $94,371.

* Supply chain experts are the most highly paid in three of the nine countries surveyed.

* The highest salary rates were for professionals with more than 15 years experience for most of the countries, with notable exceptions. In South Africa, IT professionals with eight to 10 years experience were earning the top pay level, and in the United Kingdom, those with 10 to 15 years of experience were rewarded with the highest salary.

* Of the 3,000 individuals that participated in the survey, nearly half reported that their most recent salary increase was between 0 percent and 5 percent, and more than one-quarter reported a salary increase of more than 10 percent.

* 51 percent of respondents cited an employer review as the reason for their most recent salary increase; 21 percent indicated there was an employer change; 15 percent were financially rewarded with a promotion; and 10 percent cited miscellaneous reasons.