When people find out that I work for my family’s business, their initial reaction often takes the form of this question: “What’s it like to work with your family?”
To be completely honest it’s hard to think of a time when I wasn’t working with my family.
Shortly after I was born my dad, Wayne Beckley, debuted Kolor Key — the first car wax in colors. He set out to solve a problem – white residue left from heavy waxes – and he experimented in our kitchen and garage, before setting up shop in a warehouse in east El Paso. Many of my elementary school memories involve riding on a pallet jack through the warehouse, or making playhouses out of cardboard boxes meant for shipping product.
At home it wasn’t unusual for my dad to announce, “we’re going to have a brainstorming session!” He’d give my brother and myself pencils and pads of paper and ask us to generate ideas — for products, for taglines, for advertisements. If we came up with an idea for a new product his first reaction would be, “how could we market that?” It didn’t occur to me that this might not be typical family conversation.
Some very early product ideas
By the time I was in middle and high school, my dad had turned his attention to health and wellness. He’d completely re-made his diet, embracing a Mediterranean way of dining – emphasis on good fats, olive oil, and eating lean or almost no red meat. His interest in the benefits of red wine would ultimately lead him to starting <a href="http://merlotskincare.com">Merlot Skin Care</a>. But while he was in the early stages of thinking about what would become the company our family now runs, most of our time together was spent playing golf.
My dad had never played golf before he went to college, but when he discovered the game and its challenges — pin placement, the slope of the green, trees — he was hooked. For my brother and me, as soon as we could confidently walk as toddlers, we were taken to the driving range, and by middle school I was spending summers playing tournaments in west Texas and New Mexico on the Sun Country junior tour. There were never a lot of girls out there, so I’d often play with guys, the 100+ degree July heat beating down on everyone equally.
We didn’t belong to a country club, and the equipment we had was old or donated or bought at a discount – playing golf wasn’t a fancy thing, but it was a regular thing. Nearly every Sunday afternoon we’d go to the range to practice – challenging each other to chipping competitions and betting on who could sink their putts. My dad’s love for the challenge of the game – always questing to be better, or do better – kept us coming back. For me, it was the best way to spend time together. It gave us something to talk about, and to do, and to try to figure out together.
Talking about golf with The El Paso Times in 1998
When I went away to college my clubs mostly stayed in storage, but my dad would call occasionally to say, “I’ve discovered the secret to golf! Over-rotating your hips!” or “Pausing at the top of the swing!” or “Speeding up the follow-through!” There was always some new secret that was helping to improve his game.
I didn’t anticipate then that these conversations would someday give way to more business-focused ones as Merlot Skin Care developed. (For a while we spoke mostly in airport codes — “I’ll meet you at DFW and we’ll go to ORD, after the meeting I’ll fly to LAX and then back to SFO” — coordinating travel for business meetings.) I didn’t anticipate that we’d be strategizing about product development in Shanghai or giving brand presentations in Tokyo. But those early years, trekking through sand traps and navigating narrow fairways, helped build our bond.
Now my dad and I talk almost every day – almost always about work, sometimes about life, often about sports. What’s it like to work with my family? Umm, normal? Or at least far better than par for the course.
Nicole Beckley is the marketing & media director for Merlot Skin Care.