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Changing of the Guard

Editor’s note: Kathryn Albarado recently retired as owner and president of Dagar’s Catering, Austin, TX. Prior to Albarado, the business was owned by her father Albert Dagar. Albarado’s grandfather Freddie Dagar founded the catering company in 1952.

Business is business. Family is family. Try to explain that to an entrepreneur who has sacrificed time, health, money, vacations, and relationships among other things.

How do you remove the emotions from business?

The truth is, I don’t know if you fully can or want to, but there is a balance that needs to be found. For generational entrepreneurs (like me), they intertwine. Sometimes the only thing that keeps the engine running is the emotions. Generational entrepreneurs thrive in emotionally challenging atmospheres.

Fresh out of college, I went into the family business with guns blazing. It was time to prove myself! My ill-conceived perception, aka my twentysomething ego, was that I knew better than dad (the boss). My know-it-all attitude would cause countless disagreements and battle of wills. Technology was moving faster than most businesses could keep up with. Times were changing and the generational struggle was real.

In 2003, I suggested that it was time for a website. The boss felt that there was no need for this expense since everyone uses the phonebook. Since I was daddy’s little girl, I knew what buttons to push. Finally, he caved in and provided me with a $500 budget to build our first website (or should I say splash page).

Wait. The story doesn’t end there. I proceeded to tell him that we needed to attend Catersource Conference & Tradeshow. His immediate response is “what are they going to teach me that I don’t already know?” Again, I got my way and took my reluctant boss to the conference.

Let me paint a picture for you: While sitting in the conference room, the speaker walks in and says, “Good morning! I know everyone here has a website, right?”

My dad immediately responds: “It is going to be a long week for me, isn’t it?”

I told him, “Of course, it is.”

Although we experienced the ‘aha’ moment at the conference, there was still a continuous power struggle between the two of us. He wanted me to succeed, but he didn’t know how to nurture growth without struggle. In his mind, being tough was going to make me tough and prepare me for whatever was thrown in my direction. He did succeed in preparing me, but looking back I wish we could have done it with less friction. When the “changing of the guard” took place it didn’t come from a place of want but a place of necessity. Dad was terminally ill. At this point it didn’t matter what we agreed or disagreed on; our egos needed to be set aside to ensure the future of our company would last beyond his death.

At 32 years of age, I became the sole person responsible for the legacy of our family business. With this came a whirlwind of emotions and challenges which led to my ultimate self-discovery journey because who was I if I wasn’t “Albert Dagar’s daughter?” Through this experience, I found my purpose in helping other generational entrepreneurs reimagine their future and well-being by finding balance and purpose in their daily lives. I am Kathryn Albarado, the daughter of Albert Dagar, who through it all prepared me for the future. 

Kathryn Albarado

Generational business and life coach

As a third-generational family business owner, Kathryn spent 22 years navigating the hills and valleys of leading a family business.

There is more to her than being a businesswoman. For those who have seen ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ - this is her family in a nutshell. Of course, there are small differences but more commonalities than not....