Originally published in the Long Beach Business Journal.

Charles Antis, CEO of Antis Roofing, along with his crew, on top of a roof volunteering in support of his company’s "Give to Grow" culture.

Values are important to all of us. We’re governed by them in our daily life, whether we recognize them or not; they guide our decision making. Values are a reflection of who we are, what’s important to us, and how we manage and define our purpose.

When it comes to company values, it’s really not any different. Company values provide the framework that engages employees, clients, stakeholders, all of its audiences and, ultimately, shapes the company culture. Some companies choose to have two or three core values and some have but one core value that defines them. Consistent with all companies, however, is the fact that the company’s culture is the language of the business.

Whether you’re responsible for managing an inherited business passed along several generations or you’re the founder of a new business, defining your company’s core values is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. It’s how you express your passion, vision, deliver your services/products to the marketplace, and define your company’s sustaining culture. Ultimately, it becomes your legacy, reaching well beyond profits, industry pressures, and business and economic cycles. Some companies measure their culture by values such as integrity, discipline, empowerment, and accountability. Some business leaders evaluate the success of their business beyond profit margins. Rather, they define it by their commitment to the communities they serve, in a collaborative effort of empowerment and purpose. They tend to measure their success by a “Give to Grow” approach to philanthropy creating a thriving internal culture dedicated to providing exceptional services. “The more we give, the more we grow,” said Charles Antis, founder and CEO of Antis Roofing and Waterproofing and a First Bank client.

Conversely, for other business leaders and founders, it’s about stewardship. It’s a seamless authority to lead by example that helps shape the next generation of business owners. As described by one family steward: be transparent, be real, and, of course, always be open. The preservation of the business is important, but it’s not as valuable as being an upstanding role model. This third generation real estate developer said the culture of a business is really one of the most important things that will contribute to a company’s sustainable success and legacy.

“Our company’s culture is based on integrity,” said Lisa Hirose, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Donahue Schriber Realty Group. “We always do what we say we are going to do, we are accountable to our word, and our integrity is who we are, underlined by the belief that all we can control is our attitude and effort. Although we are not a family business, our culture was born out of our founding members’ culture of mutual respect and, as a result, we have a culture that now has the feeling of a family-owned business. We believe our long employee tenure is a direct result of this culture, our collective efforts, and a sense of belonging. These are all a result of being aligned by a common value statement and vision for the company.”

Creating, sustaining, and growing the legacy of a business is at the heart of all successful businesses. Are you building a lasting legacy?

Over my thirty-plus career in the trust and investment industry, I’ve had the privilege and honor to work with many families within the broad spectrum of earned and inherited wealth. The common thread that concerns all parents and grandparents is preserving the family unity, along with their wealth. And, if there is an operating business, maintaining the founder’s values and culture throughout the life of the business without destroying the family unit in the interim is of utmost concern to these families.

Deborah L. Harrington is a Vice President and Wealth Advisor for First Bank Wealth Management. She has over 30 years of experience within the financial industry specializing in business development, finance, trust, and investment management. Armed with a degree from USC and an MBA from Claremont Graduate University, Deborah has devoted her career to working with families and business owners throughout their financial management and estate planning cycles as a trusted advisor.

Products mentioned are not FDIC insured and are not a deposit or other obligation of or guaranteed by the Bank or its affiliates, and involve risk including the possible loss of principal amount invested and are not insured by a federal government agency.