Trust plays an important role in any partnership, so 28-year-old Garth Conboy is probably in good shape. His partner is his mother.

The company, Pacer Software Inc., makes computer network-linking packages. Garth, the president, supervises research and development at Pacer's offices in Westborough, Mass. His 61-year-old mother, Mary Ann Conboy, the chief financial officer, runs administration out of corporate headquarters in La Jolla, Calif. Garth traces the relationship back to his college days, when he developed a software package and got his mother, a fabric designer by trade, to market it in her spare time. Mrs. Conboy says their collaboration started much earlier: "I'd helped Garth prepare for science fairs since he was in the seventh grade."

Whenever it started, the partnership has clearly worked. Launched in 1981 with less than $10,000 in personal savings, Pacer bootstrapped its growth, relying solely on internally generated funds. Today it has 45 employees and projects fiscal 1990 sales of $7 million. As for mother-son clashes, Garth admits they have "one good fight a year, but it's never too bad."

And what about dad? "I'm VP in charge of recreation," says James Conboy, a retired math teacher. "I make sure Mary Ann and Garth kick up their heels and have some fun. It's a tough job, too." -- Elizabeth Conlin