Heir Apparent [New Miami magazine]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
New Miami magazine / Father’s Day Special
Photos by Donna Victor
Design by Kevin Jolliffe
WAYNE HOLLO SELF-CONSCIOUSLY BUTTONS his triple-breasted suit as he walks toward the photographer. He shoots a pearly white smile and offers a handshake. He explains that his father, Tibor Hollo, is going to be late for the appointment. He’s caught in traffic.
The oldest of three children, Wayne has always been the most likely to succeed his father as top officer of Miami-based Florida East Coast Properties. He was the only child to go into the business.
“I never really thought of doing anything else,” Wayne says. “I guess maybe I should have gotten a law degree or something, bur since I was about 12, I’ve been working for my father. I started out cleaning pools.”
Many of the sons and daughters in our Father’s Day portrait gallery were groomed for the management positions they now hold. For most of them, joining Dad’s company was a choice, not a duty.
In several cases, the kids took a hiatus for a while. Allen Morris Jr. left his father’s real estate company and studied to be a minister. Dale Meyer left her father’s public relations agency to work as an assistant assignment editor at WTVJ-Channel 4. Richard Getz left the family jewelry business to start a real estate company.
In the end, however, they all came home.
“I really love working with my father,” says Dale Meyer. “We handle things very similarly. I left because I wanted to get some background before working here. I got a taste of what life is like at other companies. Now I’m where I want to be.”
Yet many of the smiles in these photographs belie the natural tension of parent-child relationships, a tension that is heightened by the day-to-day demands of running a business. Sons and daughters feel they are walking in the shadow of their fathers, who sometimes doubt the wisdom of their offspring. Sarcastic humor, the kind that’s permitted only within the family, often breaks the tension.
Reclining in his leather chair, Garth Reeves, owner of the “Miami Times,” looks the part of the patriarch, having passed the business baton to his daughter, Rachel, the newspaper’s chief executive officer.
“Yes, I’m still trying to tell her what to do,” he says with a grin. “It’s hard not to treat her like she’s 12, because in my mind, she always will be my little girt.” Rachel Reeves scrunches her face. “He’d better watch out,” she says. “I’m the boss now. He’s only a consultant these days.”
“It’s very difficult to work with my father,” admits Miami attorney Raul Valdes-Fauli Jr. “The hardest part is trying to adopt a professional attitude at the office.”
His father knows the feeling well. “I worked with my father for 20 years in Havana,” says Raul Valdes-Fauli, Sr. “But there’s another side to it, too. In the back of your mind, you always have the feeling that if the other weren’t around, the place would fall apart.”
Sometimes surrendering authority is the biggest hurdle.
“It takes a lot of maturity to say that your way may not be the best way,” says Allen Morris Sr., whose son now runs the real estate company he founded. “It’s not an easy thing to do. But times do change. Answers to problems are different these days. I realize that. The hard part is letting go.”
The changing of the guard in any family business is difficult. Irving Getz, patriarch of Mayor’s Jewelers, only hopes that he lives long enough to see his sons go through the same process: “Someday, their children will be ready to come into the business. I can’t wait to see how they handle that.”
QUOTES FROM THE “KIDS:”
Richard, Irving and Sam Getz, Mayor’s Jewelers—Sam on Irving: “My dad’s got tremendous instincts about business. You really learn from that. Sometimes things get convoluted, though. Things that should be family get mixed up with business and things that should be business get mixed up with family.”
Raul Valdes-Fauli Jr., and Sr., Valdes-Fauli Cobb Petrey & Bischoff—Jr. on Sr.:“You are constantly dealing with someone who is certain they know better than you.”
Allen Morris Jr. and Allen Sr., The Allen Morris Company—Jr. on Sr.: “I appreciate his experience and perspective. Only, solutions that worked 25 years ago don’t work today. The biggest challenge [in working with my dad] is to be patient and to be forgiving. We both know we need to be flexible, to bend when the other is right.”
Tibor and Wayne Hollo, Florida East Coast Properties—Wayne on Tibor: “You have to have balls in this business. You just need to talk to my father for five minutes to realize he is a genius. He is very tough, though. He has what it takes to be a gambler, and you need to have that talent to be in this business.”
Rachel and Garth Reeves, The Miami Times—Rachel on Garth: “He thinks I don’t listen. I listen. I just don’t want him to know it. Deep down, I really am Daddy’s girl.”
Hank and Dale Meyer, Hank Meyer Associates, Inc.—Dale on Hank: “My dad and I have a psychic relationship when it comes to making judgement calls. We really listen to each other. He’s truly my inspiration.”