Third Age: They’ve got some real family ties

WE are told an apple doesn’t fall very far from a tree.

Third Age: They’ve got some real family ties

But what is it really like for a son to follow in his father’s footsteps and work in the family business?

Does the son have a choice? Is he under pressure? Is it competitive? Can he be himself or is he always in his father’s shadow?

Laughing loudly, Louis Copeland Jnr, 36, admits he did feel a “little bit’’ of pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the family retailing business.

“With my name being the same as his and being the only son I did feel a little bit of pressure. I have always worked in the shops since I was about 12, during the summer holidays and Christmas.

“But I didn’t feel any pressure from him. My dad has never said, ‘You have to do this, you have to do that.’ It was just me putting pressure on myself,’’ he says.

The Irish-owned family business, which started in the 1950s, is famous for its quality tailoring and has a host of regular clients including a wide range of show business, sport and political personalities.

Working so closely in business together, Louis Jnr says it is vital that they have a good relationship and that they try not to bring any work-related issues into other areas of family life.

“We get on very well. We see each other every day, but we don’t work in the same building. My dad is very relaxed and over the years he has let me take on a lot of things, opening new stores. We might not always agree on everything, but there would be no rows or shouting,’’ he says.

“My dad is a workaholic, he is there seven days a week even now. But he was working hard when we were children to ensure that we could go on holidays. I am in the same boat myself now, working for my kids. But outside of work he is very relaxed.’’

Louis Copeland Snr, 64, followed in his own father’s footsteps when he joined the family business as a teenager and appreciates how hard it can be for family members to work together.

“I can put myself in Louis’ feet, remembering how I got on with my father. Obviously it can be tough being under the shadow of your father, so I have to remember that when I am dealing with my son. But it is lovely to have a son who is interested in the business and is so committed to it,’’ he says.

The Copelands are fortunate. They have managed to blend family and work successfully. David Kavanagh, a family therapist from Dundrum, Dublin, believes it’s vital that roles are clearly defined within a family business and are respected.

“There are many positives about working for the family business, you will get a sense of loyalty and trust that you wouldn’t get from outsiders. You will have more energy to drive the business forward,’’ he says. “But if you have an argument at work you need to leave it there, otherwise it will toxify the whole family dynamic. It is important to be emotionally mature.’’

So will Louis junior encourage his own eldest son, Louis, six, to follow in his footsteps, too? “What ever he wants to do is fine by me. I wouldn’t put any pressure on him or any of my other three children to come into the business. At the moment one of them wants to be a farmer.’’

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