Like many entrepreneurs, George Ounjian used to be married to his business, but that was before he met Marilyn Schwartz. Today he's married to her business -- and to her.
This was hardly what Ounjian had in mind when the couple met in 1981. At the time, he was ensconced in his company, a lawn-care products distributorship he had founded in 1968, and she was serious about building her own business. On their second date, George told Marilyn their relationship could only be casual, since he would never marry a "career woman." A lot he knew. They were married in mid-1982. Meanwhile, Marilyn had started Careers USA Inc., a personnel-placement service based in Philadelphia, and business was booming. By the fall of 1987, sales had grown to $7.7 million, and she needed someone with financial expertise to handle her new franchising campaign. As it happened, George was bored with his $3.3-million distributorship and thought his wife's fast-growing company far more exciting. So, in November, he left his company and became president of hers. (Marilyn is Career USA's chairman.)
It's turned out to be a good, well, marriage. Working with his wife is a "pleasure," says George. "We have the same goals and aspirations. . . . I don't look at it as a step down just because my wife owns the company." Agrees Marilyn: "We have fun at work." Moreover, she regards hiring her husband as a form of affirmative action, since her firm is 90% female. "Women tend to do better in this industry," she notes, "but men love to come into our organization -- because it's all women."
-- Martha E. Mangelsdorf* * *