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Following in dad's footsteps

Jeff Stowman, left, started out pursuing a career in the health field until he admitted his strong points were in the law department. So, he finished law school, practiced for three years and then moved back to Detroit Lakes to join his father, David, in the law business. (Photo by Brian Basham)1 / 3
Norb Caulfield, left, has eight sons, none of who were interested in photography. Eventually four of his sons, including Craig, came around and joined the photography field. (Photo by Brian Basham)2 / 3
Rick Jansen, left, helped open Zorbaz over 40 years ago. Tate, after working for his dad since age 10 selling shirts, bought Rick's share of the company about five years ago. (Photo by Brian Basham)3 / 3

Caulfield Studio, Stowman Law Office, Francis Construction, Bristlin and Son Construction, Tomlinson and Son, Zorbaz, Norbys -- the possibilities are endless. Children following in their parents' footsteps in their chosen career path.

For some, it was an easy decision. For others, it was a decision they fought at first but in time knew their calling was in the same line of work.

David and Jeff Stowman

Jeff Stowman said he went into law because "I couldn't make it as a doctor."

Only half joking, he was attending the University of Kansas getting a master's degree in exercise physiology, "and I didn't like it."

Instead, he knew his strong points lay in the study of law.

"I should have faced the facts early on that I should have gone to law school."

While David never encouraged or discouraged his son from practicing law, he let Jeff know he was always welcome to return to Detroit Lakes and join his law firm.

After law school, Jeff said he made a conscious decision to practice law in Kansas before returning home. He did so for three years before joining his father.

"The timing was good," David said of Jeff joining his law firm.

David was just getting involved in the Minnesota Bar Association Board, which took away time from the office. Jeff was able to come in and take over.

"There was an instant trust and respect for each other," Jeff said of going to work for his father.

David added that another benefit of working together is that there is no competition between the two as there can be between attorneys at law firms.

"Most fathers like to see their children succeed," he said. "It creates a culture of cooperation."

The pitfalls, though few, might revolve around the fact that to be a lawyer, one must be strong-willed.

"Giving up control has been painfully agonizing," David said with a laugh.

"David might say I've learned to listen and I might say he's learned to listen," Jeff added.

And that shows the difference in roles at the office and away from the office. Jeff easily calls his father David, whereas some kids may never have called their fathers anything but Dad.

It's also the public's perception of Jeff going to work for his father.

"I wear a tie every day so I'm not just Dave's kid," he said with a laugh. "To a lot of people around town, I'm going to be Dave's kid, so I better at least look the part."

Another perk of working with family, on lunch breaks, they've gone waterskiing or jogging together. And, David adds, he gets to see Jeff's kids more often because they come to the office to see their dad.

David said that watching his own children grow, it's good to see them develop, whether they are learning to walk or 40 years old -- and whether they are practicing law next to him or succeeding as doctors and an engineer like his other three children.

"I could retire but I don't want to. It's a satisfying and rewarding job, and we both have the same long-term thinking," David said.

The Stowman Law Firm is truly a family business with David's wife, Judy, working in the front office, too.

Craig and Norb Caulfield

Growing up, the Caulfield boys worked for their dad at his photography studio, but they had no interest in going into photography as a career.

Somewhere along the line, though, that all changed.

Norb got his start working for his high school yearbook.

"That was strictly on an amateur basis," he said.

He joined the Army and then attended college with his GI Bill at the New York Institute of Photography.

"At that point, I knew I was going to pursue it as a career."

So he moved back to Iowa and went to work in photography.

Out of his eight sons, four of them are now in the photography business, including Craig, owner of Detroit Lakes' Caulfield Studio.

Brothers Bob and Kent own a studio in Grand Forks, and they also along with Craig, own Grosz Photography in Moorhead.

Steve worked with Craig until he went into the production side of the business. Now the four own Lakes Digital Imaging, and Steve runs that business.

"All eight boys were going separate ways, then realized it was a neat, fun business," Craig said.

He attended St. Cloud State for photo technology.

"The first couple years I was the official tripod holder," he said of working for his father, laughing. Then he jumped into taking pictures on his own.

Next year will be Caulfield Studio's 50th year in Detroit Lakes.

The brothers have "a strong business background that helped us stay in business this long," Craig said.

"Business has seen a lot of changes. Who has seen more? I don't know," he added.

From black and white photography to color to digital to the newest technology of green screen, which Craig is working with now, it's all changing.

"Dad taught us we need to be on the cutting edge," Craig said. "You've got to go for it."

Norb said he's very proud to have four sons in the photography business, "especially when they weren't interested at first."

Craig and Norb worked seven years together before Norb retired in 1989. He also went to Grand Forks to help his other sons start their photography business there.

As for the next generation of Caulfields, Craig said his daughters aren't interested and that's fine with him. It's about them being happy, not going into his line of work.

Rick and Tate Jansen

Rick Jansen had started college to pursue a career in architecture drafting, but he soon realized the restaurant business was more for him. So, he got a degree in restaurant management and in 1969, he helped open the Detroit Lakes Zorbaz.

"It was a lot more exciting than drafting," he said with a laugh.

The Zorbaz was where his sons all got their start as well. Tate started selling shirts when he was 10 years old.

After going off to California for college and international business, he returned home to Detroit Lakes and went back to work for his dad.

"Nothing in particular," brought him back, he said, "it just fell into place. This is a great place, with the Midwest people, Minnesota nice."

About five years ago, Tate bought out his father's shares in Zorbaz.

"It was an easy, nice transition. I could let go and the responsibilities were his now and not mine," Rick said.

And even if Rick isn't an owner anymore, he can still be found at Zorbaz.

"It's nice because we can talk about things that we can't with other staff," Tate said.

Rick said his other two sons have gone on to businesses related to his as well -- one working for a vendor of video games and one in the car business (cars have been a passion of Rick's for a long time as well.)

It's nice, though, he said, to have Tate take over his business because it keeps him and his family -- wife, Devon, who also works at Zorbaz, and daughter, Merida -- close.

And for Tate, it's nice to have someone to go to for advice on the business.

"There's a lot of untapped knowledge I can still get," he said.

For example, Rick's been in the business for over four decades, so Tate said he can use that experience to figure out the best strategy for the various days of the week Fourth of July falls on each year.

Since both have years of experience, they can cover for each other if one needs to be gone.

"They've had quite a few life lessons and experiences," Rick said of his kids and the work they did for and with him.

Tate said that he's always been interested in hospitality, so he likely would have gone into the restaurant or lodging business regardless of his upbringing.

Nonetheless, the father is happy to hand over the reins to his son.

"It puts a smile on my face," Rick said.