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February 18, 1994 - Image 73

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-02-18

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and U.S. Army construction,
that type of business is not as
plentiful as it once was.
Competition has quadrupled
in recent years, Mr. Schiller
adds, while profit margins
have shrunk.
"We've been seriously re-
considering reopening our res-
idential division." And that
requires the advertising and
marketing his sons suggested.
It is not unusual for the na-
ture of a business to change

Top, Book Couzens' three generations:
Janet Randolph, Hildy Randolph, Moe
Sell and Chuck Randolph.

Bottom, Richard Segal's family
business dissolved.

dramatically over generations,
Dr. Aronoff points out. He sug-
gests that each generation re-
think the company's mission.
They should even consider sell-
ing the business.
Selling his company is the
farthest thing from Marvin
Fishman's mind. Still, the 52
year-old owner of Goodwill
Printing recognizes that the
printing business has changed
since his uncle and father
started out in a 12th Street

store front in the 1930s.
Today, Goodwill employs
40 people and fills a 55,000-
square-foot building on
Eight Mile Road in Fern-
Mr. Fishman has been a
part of the business all his
life, full-time since the
1960s, and "part-time since
I was old enough to walk."
Like his sons, Mr. Fish-
man wasn't certain that he
would enter the printing
business until he actually
did it.
"I was a math major con-
templating graduate
school," he says of his deci-
sion to join his father's busi-
ness. "I filled in where there
was a need."
More than 30 years later,
"I'm the CSR (customer ser-
vice representative) of last
resort," he says. "I still fill
in where there's a need."
Sons Steven, 29, and Brian,
26, work with him today.
Their sister attends graduate
school in social work and does
not intend to enter the print-
ing business.
Mr. Fishman, like his coun-
terparts, enjoys the continuity
a family business offers. His

Family Businesses Contribute
to Worthwhile Charities

onald Schiller,
founder of Red-
Schiller Con-
struction, likes to
do his part for the
Allied Jewish Campaign.
"One of the biggest reasons
to make money is so you can
do things for other people," he
Unfortunately, the con-
struction business has suffered
during the last few years, and
Schiller Construction has not
been as profitable as it used to
To Mr. Schiller, that means-
less money to give away. He
and his sons, who now own the
company, may be able to
maintain their own charitable
contributions, but their busi-
ness has not been able to meet
what Mr. Schiller considers its
own, separate obligation to the
Jewish community.
Management professor and
family business expert Craig
Aronoff says Mr. Schiller's out-
look is quite common among
founders of family businesses.
Owners often "see their
businesses as a way of fund-
ing their philanthropic orga-


nizations," he explains.
"The founder thinks of the
business as his own.pocket."
Yet he warns that generous
presidents and CEOs must be
careful to distinguish between
"my wallet and the business'
Ralph Woronoff, managing
partner of the accounting firm
Woronoff, Hyman, Levenson
and Sweet, concurs.
"A corporation is limited,
percentage-wise, to (giving)
ten percent of its net profit,"
he says.
That means that a business
earning $10,000 in a year may
give away up to $1,000. If that
same business suffers a down-
turn, and earns only $5,000
the next year, the company's
donations are limited to $500.
Businesses can give in oth-
er ways, by encouraging their
employees to stay involved
with community groups, and
by giving them time to attend
board meetings and meet oth-
er organizational commit-
Says Mr. Schiller, "I've felt
that if you can't contribute
money, at least contribute

78-year-old mother still does
some of the bookkeeping; a
cousin works in sales; a retired
uncle comes in occasionally to
help out.
Non-family members also
tend to stay around, he says.
Some employees have been
with Goodwill for over 40
years. "Seeing each generation
gives them some sense of se-
"There are people here who
were at my bar mitzvah .. .
and the bar mitzvahs of my
sons," he says. "It's more than
just a dollars and cents propo-
sition." I . I


hammer in their hands," their
father says.
Mr. Schiller, now in his late
60s, chose construction partly
because he wanted time with
his children. He never sus-
pected that he would end up
working with them.
His father, previously in the
car business, worked in con-
struction during World War II.
"When I got out of the ser-
vice,- (my father) asked me
which I would rather do — go
into the automobile
business or go into the
construction business,"
Mr. Schiller recalls.
"The only thing I re-
membered about the au-
tomobile business was
that I never saw my fa-
Mr. Schiller, whose
clients have included the
City of Detroit, Shaarey
Zedek B'nai Israel Cen-
ter and the Jimmy
Prentis Morris Jewish
Community Center, at-
tributes much of the
company's early success
to the fact that he and
his father each excelled
in different areas.
"My father was the
consummate salesman,"
he recalls. "He had lit-
tle time for the details."
Mr. Schiller was the de-
tail man. He dealt with
government agencies
and bid on new jobs.
Defining roles was a
lesson the Schillers had to
learn over again when
Robert and Richard entered
the business.
At first, both sons took on
many of the same respon-
sibilities. Eventually, they
and their father recognized
that each had different
"Rick is the construction
person," Mr. Schiller says.
"Bob is going to be concen-
trating almost exclusively
on marketing."
The fact that marketing
has become an important
part of Schiller's future in-
dicates how much the busi-
ness has changed.
Schiller Construction
started out in the remodel-
ing business, adding dens
and rec rooms to homes in
Sherwood Forest and
Palmer Woods. Since the
1960s, the company has fo-
cused primarily on commercial
and government contracts.
"In public work, you don't
sell, you bid," Mr. Schiller ex-
plains. He says the company's
familiar market niche "has
dried up in the last five years."
While Schiller was once called
on for historical restorations

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