4 married couples who work together


They say maintaining a healthy marriage takes work. So does running a business with your spouse.

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They say maintaining a healthy marriage takes work. So does running a business with your spouse.

We asked four power couples what it’s like to work together: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Click through to see their responses.

Wanderlust Tours | Bend

022Dave and Aleta Nissen founded Wanderlust Tours — a nature adventure company — in 1993. Aleta has scaled back her involvement in the business since the birth of their daughter Annika, who is now 9.

“Working side by side with Aleta over 20 years ago to get Wanderlust Tours off the ground has been a highlight of our relationship,” says Dave.  “Her skills complemented mine in a way that I never would have realized the value prior to engaging the effort of starting a business.  A strong foundation to our relationship was laid through this collaborative effort and once it came time to have a family, the business was on stable ground enabling us to divest most of her direct efforts to paid staff.” 

For her part, Aleta says  growing a business together from the ground up has been “an amazingly positive experience.”  Their professional lives parallel their personal lives, she says: “from founding the company together and working side by side for hours each day for many years, to my stepping back to direct the marketing from home when we had our daughter Annika, to working mainly on special projects.”

Coelho Winery | Amity

IMG 0020This Willamette Valley winery has been in the Coelho family since 2004 and several married couples work there.

Samuel, who is in charge of marketing, sales and brand development, and his wife Bryn, offered a glimpse into their experience making vino together.

OB: What is the best part of working with your spouse?

Samuel: Knowing that I can completely trust and rely on Bryn to be as committed and invested as I am in the development and success of our business. It doesn’t hurt that I get to return to the office and see her wonderful smile everyday too. 

OB: What challenges or obstacles arise from working with your spouse?

Bryn: I wouldn’t necessarily say there are added obstacles that we face working together, but more dynamic situations we get to capitalize on as opportunities together. I know Sam expects and depends on the best of me and my performance for the company to grow. It is wonderful to build together.

Oregon Cabaret Theater | Ashland

OCT rick val horizontalValerie Rachelle is the artistic director for this Southern Oregon attraction while Rick Robinson serves as the managing director.

OB: What is the best part of working with your spouse?

VALERIE: We get to see each other more often outside of the house, where life tends to be fairly kid-centric. I know some would see that a negative, that it would pressurize things to live and work together, but I enjoy it. Lunches together, working on our art together, what we’re passionate about it. The things that make it s strong marriage make it a strong partnership.

OB: Do your skill sets complement each other?

RICK: I think there’s some difficulty where our skill sets overlap. For the most part, I’m business side and she’s art, but the decisions that affect both of those things, we’ll fight for what we want. Also, we tend to joke around with each other over the course of an average day – I mean, we’ve been together for 17 years! I think that took some getting used to for the people that people that work for us.

CMIT Solutions | Bend

IMG 4334Mark and Jeanni Cappell have been married for 34 years and have been running CMIT Solutions for 12 years. CMIT provides outsourced IT services for individuals and small businesses.

According to Mark, the best part of working with Jeanni is the sense of shared accomplishment. “It’s been a lot of fun building something together. We each have very different strengths, skill sets and responsibilities. So while we work together we are often going in different directions all day long.

Not everyone could work with their spouse. It’s one of those things that either you can or you can’t do and you know which. Jeanni and I worked together once before just after we were married. It worked well, so when the opportunity came along to open a business of our own, we didn’t hesitate.

Jeanni says the biggest obstacle they need to overcome is knowing when to stop working. “Sometimes it’s hard to leave the business at the end of the day. We would find ourselves working 24/7. Now we reserve some time at the end of the day after the staff has gone home. We discuss the day, do some planning, discuss issues then try our best to head home and enjoy our home life.

When you work together it’s important that you have some separate outside interests. Mark does yoga and has been involved in city politics. I am an outdoor activity nut and love to hike, backpack and cross country ski. I also volunteer at a local therapeutic riding center. While we do a lot of things together on our off hours, we also make time to do things on our own or with friends.”