Indiana practice unites father, daughter and son-in-law

All in the family: Growing with the practice

From left: R. Alan Roush, O.D.; Elizabeth Roush Lichlyter, O.D.; and Craig M. Lichlyter, O.D.; at one of their practice locations in northern Indiana.

It's not difficult finding associates in lockstep with your practice goals when they literally follow in the doctor's own footsteps. Such is the case for the Roush family, a fixture in the Kendallville, Indiana area spanning three generations.

Established by Robert M. Roush, O.D., in 1945, the optometric practice has expanded over the years-both in terms of locale and staff-as sons, Richard Roush, O.D., and R. Alan Roush, O.D., together joined their father in the 1970s.

Following the retirement of Dr. Richard Roush in 2004 and the passing of Dr. Robert Roush in 2012, the Roush family added another chapter to their storied practice when Dr. Alan Roush's daughter, Elizabeth Roush Lichlyter, O.D., and her husband, Craig Lichlyter, O.D., joined the business in 2010. Now operating three locations within a 30-minute drive of one another, the Roushes discuss what motivates this optometric family.

Who inspired you to work in optometry?

Dr. Alan Roush: My father, Dr. Robert M. Roush, was an optometrist. He graduated from Illinois College of Optometry after serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during World War II with active-duty tours in both the Pacific and Atlantic.

Dr. Elizabeth Roush Lichlyter: Both my father, Dr. R. Alan Roush, and my grandfather, Dr. Robert M. Roush, inspired me to go into optometry.

Dr. Craig Lichlyter: I was inspired to go into optometry by Dr. Nancy Otte, an optometrist in my hometown of Jasper, Indiana.  During high school, I shadowed her as part of a vocational class and really enjoyed the personal connection she had with her patients.

Did you feel you were expected to join the family business?

Dr. Alan Roush: No, I admired the profession and I admired my father's involvement, leadership and respect in the community.

Dr. Elizabeth Roush Lichlyter: Just the opposite actually. I was encouraged to explore other career fields and practices to make sure I was making the decision for myself and not because of an "obligation." I started working in the office in middle school helping file papers, changed to an optical technician in high school and then came back through the summer to continue learning each field. When it was time to make my own decision, I explored optometry because of the life I saw before me growing up, a career and practice that would allow me to raise a family, participate in my community and feel like I actually know my patients. I felt it was a huge advantage to have been in each job position and to know the practice with the intimacy I did, which is why I preferred to return to the family practice versus relocate elsewhere.

Dr. Craig Lichlyter: No, there was no pressure or expectations to join the business. When I first graduated from optometry school, I worked in a few other practices before joining Drs. Roush and Will. I always felt it was completely my decision if I wanted to join the family practice or work in a different practice setting. 

Are there challenges to working with your family?

Dr. Alan Roush: Yes, but there are far more positives.

Dr. Elizabeth Roush Lichlyter: Yes, but a lot less in ours than others, I truly believe! Remember that you all have your own personalities and difference of opinion at work just like at home. Just make sure the work difference of opinion isn't carried home at the end of the day!

Dr. Craig Lichlyter: Yes, there are some challenges. It is challenging at times to keep office matters at the office and not let it take over your family time.

What are the benefits of working with your family?

Dr. Alan Roush: It's very beneficial knowing that your business and practice goals are "in step." My father always said, "Your practice gets old with you." The best thing you can do for your practice is bring in an associate-that associate being family and their spouse is a real comfort zone.

Dr. Elizabeth Roush Lichlyter: I get to see or hear from my family on an almost daily basis. I believe it has really strengthened a completely different type of relationship between my father and myself, especially since becoming business partners. I also hope it gives my dad a new sense of security when he feels it is time to walk away from the practice. I hope he feels like it's "in good hands" for the next generation.

Dr. Craig Lichlyter: The main benefit of working with family is having a level of trust and understanding of your fellow doctors that I don't think you would have with non-family colleagues. 

Do you have any tips for having a successful family business?

Dr. Alan Roush: Try to keep practice and business matters totally separate from family-it's not always something that's easy-and run your practice like a business, not a family reunion.

Dr. Elizabeth Roush Lichlyter: In the office we are all fellow ODs, we are not dad, or husband or wife, etc. I truly address each of them as Dr. Alan and Dr. Craig, and that is true outside of the office when we are having a business conversation. I think it is also important that none of us work in the same location together every day of the week. It still allows us to have our own identity and, especially for my home, allows us to have a conversation that evening of "how was your day?" because the other person doesn't already know how it was. I also feel we work hard to separate business and personal as much as possible. We have rules that when we go out to dinner or go on vacation there is no talk of business!

Dr. Craig Lichlyter: Try to keep the business and family separate. When we are spending time together as a family outside the office, we try to keep our conversations away from office topics.

July 22, 2016

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