How Father and Daughter Teams Succeed Together

Like Father, Like Daughter

The Chattanooga area is rich in family-owned businesses large and small that contribute to our vibrant economy. The following six companies have a father and daughter team at the helm, working together to propel their business to new heights. Read on for their reflections on their partnership, from childhood memories to legacies and innovations.

Photography by Rich Smith

Triple E Studio

Eyo & Sophia Efiom (above)

Eyo and Sophia Efiom began working together six years ago offering wedding videography services as part of their church’s media outreach ministry, and they also run Triple E Studio together.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
EE: First, I wanted to be an airplane pilot, then a photographer, and lastly, a police officer. I spent 23 years in law enforcement and have a love for photography that spans 39 years of my life. When I was 13, my mother purchased my first camera, a Pentax K1000 DSLR camera.
SE: I wanted (and still want) to be a movie director when I grew up. Around the age of 14, my dad got me my first camera for Christmas: a $20 bubble gum pink Vivitar digital camcorder. It was honestly my favorite gift ever because it lit a spark in me to start creating videos.

Do you have a favorite memory of working together? 
EE: My favorite memory was watching Sophia receive the 2020 Best Videographer Award from Black Excellence of Chattanooga. Knowing the public acknowledged all her hard work made my wife and me very proud.

How has working together affected your personal relationship? 
EE: I believe it has ultimately made our relationship stronger. I’ve had to learn to see my daughter as both my princess and as the powerful, intelligent, and talented woman she has become.
What are the top challenges in learning to work together?
SE: I’ve learned that we are literally the same person. I look like him, we like the same things, and we love to laugh, dance, and have fun together. But since we are similar in so many ways, we tend to butt heads.

What makes you proudest of your daughter when it comes to her career? 
EE: Sophia may get knocked down, but she always gets back up and keeps swinging. That makes me incredibly proud and confident that she is going to be okay.
What inspires you most about your father?
SE: His work ethic inspires me a lot. He’s always working hard to practice his craft and provide for his family. He gets really passionate about the people and things he loves. He’ll go that extra mile and that inspires me to never give up.

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Mango’s Décor & Co.

Mike Wood & Kristy Steele

After a lifetime in the furniture industry and only one year of retirement, Mike Wood started an import company that he and his two daughters have run together for 22 years. Kristy Steele has also owned Mango’s Décor for a little over eight years, and the two work together to source products for Mango’s.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
KS: I have always loved chocolate, and as a kid I wanted to work in a chocolate factory. Once I got a little older, I knew I wanted to do something with sales.

Did you always anticipate being part of a family business?
KS: My sister and I never thought we would get into the business. We had to stay at the store all the time and were often bored. We were able to get a Nintendo out of the deal so we’d stay out of our parents’ hair.

What makes you proudest of your daughter when it comes to her career?
MW: I am so proud of how she conducts herself in tough situations and works through the challenges of the business.

What inspires you most about your father?
KS: He has always been such a hard worker and has accomplished so much.

Do you have a favorite memory of working together?
MW: My favorite memory is going to the Atlanta Market to set up the showroom and seeing everyone working so hard late at night and getting delirious trying to figure out how we are going to make it all fit.

How has working together affected your personal relationship?
KS: When I was young, my dad was always working hard for our family. Working with him now, I have really gotten to know him not just as a dad, but also as a friend.
MW: If you talk to my son-in-law, there is only business talk when the family is all together. We all love hanging out together, but somehow it always gets back to talking about work.

What are the top challenges in learning to work together?
MW: We are very much alike and sometimes challenge each other. We try to be respectful of each other, knowing that we both are seeing the business from different angles.

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Unity One East

Walter & Kianna Lindsey

Walter Lindsey, CEO, started his private investigations and security company after leaving the Air Force. He has worked with daughter Kianna Lindsey, COO, since 2015.

Did you always anticipate being part of a family business?
WL: I was focused on providing and leaving a legacy for the family, but not necessarily working with them. When I realized that my daughter wanted to go into the “family business,” it was the highest honor she could give me.
KL: I’d worked with my dad since I was 13, and we went on surveillances together on the weekends. Though I developed a passion for the work, I didn’t want to commit to the business. My desires changed when we visited a military buddy who worked with his daughter in the security field. I told my dad right then that we needed to start a security company, and here we are.

What do you love most about working with your daughter?
WL: I couldn’t imagine doing this without Kianna. What I love most about her working with me, honestly, is that I get to see her every day.

What makes you proudest of your daughter when it comes to her career? 
WL: It is humbling that she chose to work with me. She had so many options available to her when she completed college, but the only thing that mattered to her was working with me. She’s proven herself to be a powerhouse in the industry, and someone I can trust implicitly.

What inspires you most about your father? 
KL: His passion for the business and the fact that he’s been an entrepreneur since 2007. He wants to work with me and teach me everything he knows so that I can be in a position to grow the business even more when he finally decides to retire.

What are the valuable lessons you’ve learned since working together? 
WL: We have to be understanding of each other and trust that we both have the best interest of the company, and each other, at the heart of all we do.
KL: It’s sometimes hard to separate work from family. We try, but sometimes fail. However, we are family, so we have been able to compartmentalize those things and work together.

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Nutrition World

Ed Jones & Cady Kuhlman

Inspired by a lifelong interest in natural health and healing, Ed Jones started Nutrition World in 1979. Cady Kuhlman joined the team full-time after college and is now co-owner with her father.

Did you always anticipate being part of a family business?
EJ: I always wanted to be a businessman when I was a kid, having learned from my father, who was also an entrepreneur, but I did not expect to start a family business.
CK: I have vivid memories of being a little girl ringing up our customers and helping them find products. From a very young age, I knew in my soul that this was my calling.

What do you love most about working together?
EJ: I am so happy to be passing on my legacy and partnering with her wisdom.
CK: I love that I get to receive my father’s wisdom from his years of experience. I also love to see the power of a dream. He was able to turn his vision into reality, and that is so inspiring.

Do you have a favorite memory of working together?
EJ: There are hundreds – Cady’s been helping out at the store and bagging up customers from the time she was 4 years old.
CK: I remember beaming with pride when I was little and ringing up customers on the old-timey push registers. Going to health shows and meeting famous holistic experts have also been core memories.

What makes you proudest of your daughter when it comes to her career?
EJ: I am so proud of the way she is committed to doing the right thing for our staff, our customers, and Nutrition World.

What inspires you most about your father?
CK: I love that he still carries the same morals, mission, and values that he started this business with. I’m so proud that he has never wavered or given up through all of the trials, and now he has a legacy.

What are some unique attributes of your father + daughter team?
EJ: Her focus on foods, farmers, and all things local, and mine on academics and knowledge of holistic nutrition make us a great pair.
CK: My father is extremely proficient at giving people hope. He always feels there is hope, no matter the situation.

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Flat Top Mountain Farm

Tera Byard, Terry Hughes, &
Kerry Hughes-Dishman

Flat Top Mountain Farm has been in the Hughes family for 200 years. Terry Hughes and his daughters, Tera and Kerry, work together to run their pick-your-own flower farm, pumpkin patch and corn maze, and Flat Rock Ranch equestrian facility.

Do you have a favorite memory of working together?
TH: There are so many. Watching them become responsible adults has been wonderful.
TB: One of my favorite memories is one of us working at the Chattanooga Market selling produce. My dad was so busy getting people their sweet corn that he didn’t even have time to look up. That Sunday, Martha Stewart had come to visit the market; it wasn’t until after he’d gotten her corn that someone told him he’d served her.
KHD: Watching my father in the pumpkin field working alongside my kids and pushing them to keep up.

What makes you proudest of your daughters when it comes to their careers?
TH: I am very proud of my daughters and how they take hold of situations and work through difficulties. I’m so fortunate that they want to be a part of the farm.

What inspires you most about your father?
TB: My dad is not far from being 70 years old, but he doesn’t let his age slow him down. He believes he can still do the work, and so he does. I hope that when I am pushing 70 that I can still work as hard as he does.
KHD: I am inspired by how he treats my mom and his work ethic. My father is one of the hardest working men I know, besides his father, who retired from farming at 90 years old.

What are some unique attributes and skills of your team?
TH: Tera and Kerry bring management and coordination skills to the team as well as form partnerships with local businesses.
TB: My dad is the brains behind making sure everything is planted on time and growing the very best crop, whether that’s pumpkins, corn, or flowers.
KHD: We each bring different things to the table. My sister brings design and vision, my dad brings years of farming experience, and I bring ideas and help get information about Flat Top Mountain Farm out there.

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Chattanooga Periodontics & Dental Implants

Dr. Charles Felts III & Dr. Beth Felts Randall

Sixty years ago, Dr. Charles Felts II started Chattanooga Periodontics & Dental Implants when he saw a need for periodontal care in Chattanooga. His son, Dr. Charles Felts III, began working with him, and years later, Dr. Beth Randall began practicing alongside her father.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
BR: I wanted to be an artist and a scientist, then later a professional golfer. I didn’t decide I wanted to be a dentist until my junior year of college. Dentistry was just in my genetics – I always kept coming back to it.
CF: I was always interested in the healthcare field, and in college, I decided that becoming a dentist and being able to work with my father was what I wanted to do. So, Beth is right when she says it’s in her blood.

Are there any family values that influence your leadership style?
BR: Lead by example. Be involved. Work hard – put in the time and effort. No one in our house was ever allowed to sleep past 8:30 a.m. because that was “wasting daylight.”

Do you have a favorite memory of working together?
BR: Probably the first day my dad asked me to consult with him about a treatment plan for one of his patients – it really wowed me that he thought I might have something insightful to share with him.
CF: In general, working together has allowed us to continue the close relationship we had while Beth was growing up.

What makes you proudest of your daughter when it comes to her career?
CF: She is able to relate with patients and make them feel comfortable and confident in her recommended treatment, and she has developed the surgical skills to provide the quality of care we strive for in our office.

What inspires you most about your father?
BR: My father never stops taking care of things or thinking about how to improve our practice. When I was little, I knew my dad had work to do, but he was always there with us at dinner and at sporting events. It’s not until I joined the practice that I realized how much time and effort he put into this.

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