Leadership

4 things this dad learned from running the company that created the iconic little red wagon

The first official Father's Day was in 1972. Radio Flyer, the creator of the iconic red wagon and a family business that's been passed on from father to son twice in the last century, on the other hand, has been around since 1917.

Robert Pasin, the CEO of Radio Flyer who also happens to be a father of four, says his experiences have taught him important lessons about both family and business. Often, he argues, the skills you need to succeed in parenting are the same skills that will make you a successful entrepreneur.

Pasin learned this lesson from his grandfather, Antonio Pasin, who emigrated from Italy to the United States when he was 16-years-old in 1914. After living in America for just three years, he founded Radio Flyer.

Antonio ran the business for over 50 years before passing it down to his son Mario in the early 1970s. In 1997, Pasin followed in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather and became the company's third CEO.

Today, Pasin is focused on maintaining Radio Flyer's iconic legacy and expanding their product line into the 21st century. Under his leadership, Radio Flyer even built a Tesla Model S for kids.

This year, the company tells CNBC it surpassed $100 million in sales.

Here are the four things that Pasin says you need to keep in mind whether you are raising kids or running a successful company.

Radio Flyer

Lead by example

As the head of a company or as the head of a household, it is important to set a good example, says Pasin: "It's all about leading by example. Whether it is in the family or in the business."

Pasin learned this lesson as a child from watching his father run the family business. "Growing up with my dad and then working with him in the business, I would see how he treated people," he says. Pasin learned to treat others with respect because his father set a good example and now he is passing these values on to his children.

The same can be said for business. The most effective way to lead a team is to be an ideal employee yourself. When you lead a team with character, you make your company a great place to work, and countless studies have shown that happy employees are more productive.

Radio Flyer

Demonstrate passion

"It's also about demonstrating a level of passion for the business," stresses Pasin.

This is especially true, he explains, for parents who are hoping to pass along a family business to their children one day.

"If the generation that's running the business isn't really deeply passionate about it, chances are the next generation isn't going to be that interested."

Passion, is infectious he explains. If you show your children what passion looks like, they will be inspired to work hard and follow their own passions whatever they may be. If you can inspire passion in your employees, the future leaders of your company will continue your legacy of enthusiasm. Employees who are passionate tend to stay longer, work harder, work more creatively and go the extra mile.

Robert Pasin during a KaBOOM build in 2015.
Radio Flyer
Robert Pasin during a KaBOOM build in 2015.

Give back

Pasin says an important way that he bonds with his family at home and at work is by volunteering. Giving back teaches your children empathy and the value of hard work. It can also be an important part of providing employees with a sense of purpose.

Radio Flyer has built eight playgrounds in underserved neighborhoods, has donated over 1,000 wagons to the Starlight Children's Foundation so that sick children can ride wagons through hospitals instead of being pushed on cold medical equipment and has planted over 1,000 trees in honor of their commitment to plant a tree for every product purchased online.

If doing good is not enough of a reason for you to give back, keep in mind that purpose-driven workplaces report higher rates of satisfaction and productivity.

Be honest

Honesty, he says, is a skill that is important to instill in your family and company culture. Not only is being honest the right thing to do, but it will also help your business.

"When we think about honesty and integrity, it's not just how we act and behave, but it's the products we make. Our products have high integrity and quality and that's what has built our brand over the past 100 years," says Pasin.

"My grandfather was a very respectful, kind, honest person," says Pasin, "and that's how he raised my dad and that's how my dad raised me."

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