Caitlin Sykes

Caitlin Sykes is the NZ Herald's Your Business editor

Small business: Intergenerational business - Dino and Ned Nola, Nola Electrical

Nola Electrical was founded by Ned Nola, whose sons Dino and Stipe are now also involved in the business.

Dino, Ned and Stipe Nola, of Nola Electrical.
Dino, Ned and Stipe Nola, of Nola Electrical.

Can you tell me a bit about Nola Electrical and particularly how the different generations of the family came to be involved in the business?

Dino: Nola Electrical was started in 1985 by my father Ned Nola, from home, as a one-man band. Our office is now based in New Lynn, Auckland, and we currently employ 20 staff. We specialise in the installation of HVAC automatic control systems and building management systems and have worked on many major commercial projects including the University of Auckland, Auckland City Hospital and Auckland Museum.

I came into the business as an apprentice electrician in 1995 and my younger brother Stipe came into the business as an apprentice electrician in 2010. Ned is the managing director, I am the projects manager and Stipe has just completed his apprenticeship and is a fully qualified electrician.

What's good about having the different generations involved in the business?

Dino: It's great that we can count on each other for help when needed as well as being able to tap into a wealth of knowledge and experience on a daily basis. High expectations from family also make you push yourself harder.

Ned: The trust that comes from working with family is also a huge benefit.

What have been the challenges?

Dino: The challenges are that sometimes expectations can be too high, which can put a lot of pressure on your shoulders. Trying to plan for the future has been challenging, as we all need to be on the same page to move forward and it's sometimes hard to separate business from family.

Ned: I agree. Also, making changes has been challenging, because when something has been done one way for a long time, it can be hard to change it. Sometimes the older, wiser view is hard to get across to the younger generation.

Dino: Likewise, the younger view on something can be seen not to have much merit by the older generation.

Is succession something you have talked about?

Dino: Yes we have discussed succession and how we can all be on the same page with the direction of the business going forward. We have enlisted the help of Zac de Silva from Business Changing to help us plan for this. He also gives us a view of the business from outside the family, to make sure that we are on the right track.

What are your top tips for making an intergenerational business work?

Communicate: Talk about issues before they become a problem and also discuss the things that are going well.

Be patient: Take the time to see each other's points of view, and that we all have something different to offer.

Play to your strengths: Make sure that everyone is in a role that is suited to the strengths they can bring to the business.

Get an outside view: This has been hugely beneficial for us and Zac has been a great help here.

Coming up in Small Business: Cashflow is king, particularly in smaller businesses. So what are your tips and tricks for getting paid faster? If you've got some to share, get in touch: nzhsmallbusiness@gmail.com.

- NZ Herald

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