NEW YORK (AP) _ Frieda Caplan quit her job as production manager at a thread factory and began a produce business 33 years ago so she could start a family and keep working.

Now, her two daughters own Frieda's Inc., a $24 million company that sells specialty produce like kiwi fruit and purple potatoes. The oldest, Karen, became president in 1986 and has more than doubled revenues in her tenure.

``I never dreamed either of my daughters would consider joining me,'' said Caplan, 71, now chairman of Los Angeles-based Frieda's.

Women own 30 percent of all family-run businesses, according to census data, and increasingly they are passing the baton to their daughters.

The National Foundation for Women Business Owners estimates 6.5 million women run a business, providing jobs for 11 million people and contributing $1 trillion to the economy.

Their numbers are growing. Census figures show that from 1982 to 1987, the last years for which data are available, the number of women-owned businesses jumped 57 percent.

``In the last five to 10 years, the engine driving the economy is small business,'' said Patty DeDominic, president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the foundation's parent.

Women are starting businesses because with more women working outside the home, they have gotten the experience needed to run their own companies, DeDominic said.

In addition, as companies have slashed jobs over the last half-decade, many women have either been forced out or found their possibilities within a large company limited.

In some cases, women like Caplan have wanted to set their own hours and choose their own stress levels, said DeDominic, who herself started a business, Los Angeles-based PDQ Personnel Placement Services, Inc.

``Women have found that it can be rewarding creating an environment where employees can grow, where they can be creative, nurture and produce significant results,'' she said. ``It's more rewarding than being dictated to from above.''

Even women who have tried to join family businesses run by fathers or brothers have found their ambitions thwarted.

A survey sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. last year found family business owners more likely to employ men than women relatives and more likely to give them greater responsibility.

One-third of owners have at least one son involved in the business and 15 percent have a brother working for the firm. By comparison, 14 percent of owners employ any daughters and only 6 percent employ any sisters.

Sons and brothers, the study found, are more than twice as likely to hold controlling positions in family firms as daughters or sisters.

``There is still a `glass ceiling' in families for daughters,'' said Vivian Blackford, who consults for family-run businesses.``Where there is an able son, he gets groomed for leadership.''

Nora Jaeschke, 56, started N.N. Jaeschke a San Diego property management company in San Diego 24 years ago, hoping to balance a job and family life.

Right from the start, she said, she involved her children in the business, putting them to work sealing envelopes and doing janitorial work. Elizabeth, the youngest, says she started answering customer service calls at age 6.

``I respected them,'' Jaeschke said. ``I knew that whatever job I gave them they would do well.''

Now all three daughters work with their mother _ as does the third generation, Jaescheke's 8-year-old granddaughter. Although Jaeschke has no plans to retire, she plans to pass the company of 200 employees to her daughters.

Part of the challenge of being a woman business owner, Jaeschke said, is being taken seriously. That forced her, she said, to work harder to prove she was worth respect.

When she started the company in 1971, contractors were unaccustomed to a woman heading a business, she said.

``One told me later that when they first heard about me they laughed, then they became concerned and then they started trying to protect their business,'' Jaeschke said.

The dynamics of businesses run by women are different than those operated by men, organizational psychologists say.

Competitiveness, which can damage a father and son business, is not usually an issue for mothers and daughters, said Bernard Liebowitz, a psychologist and management consultant specializing in family-owned businesses.

Fathers and sons, he said, often feel they need to best each other, with the son trying to prove himself worthy of the business. By contrast, mothers and daughters need mostly to establish their own space, he said.

In addition, mothers and daughters are usually better able to share the business and mothers often find it easier than fathers to let go when the time comes, Liebowitz said.

Furthermore, women business owners are often better at promoting team efforts and are more concerned about how people relate, viewing both as important business issues, Liebowitz said.

MaryAnn Ellis, president of American Speedy Printing in Boynton Beach, started her $400,000 a year business a decade ago after her husband was laid off from his job.

She says she considers issues a male owner might not. For example, she set up a nursery for the infant son of a press operator so he could bring him to work on days the child was sick.

``Women tend to accommodate more. If there is a need, they find a way to take care of it,'' Ellis said. ``I maintained a good employee and that's fundamental when you're a small business.''

Three months ago Ellis handed the reins to her 21-year-old daughter, who has been working with her mother for six years. Ellis' son also works in the business but didn't want the responsibility of business decisions, she said.

Marrie Gebbie, president of Action Bag Co. in Chicago, also chose a daughter over a son to run her company when she retires next summer.

Gebbie established the $4 million wholesale bag distributor with $16,000 in 1980. Two daughters work with her, as did her son, who left the company two years ago at about the time the mother's choice for succession became public.

Gebbie's daughter Nancy Cwynar has worked with her mother since 1982, when she joined the company looking for regular hours so she could start a family. Several years later, Gebbie's oldest daughter, Mari Jo, also joined Action Bag, also looking for something that would allow her to raise a family.

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