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134
FAMILY BUSINESS
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CASESIGMA MOTION
,
INC
.
135
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FAMILY BUSINESS
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CASE
7
SMALLFAMILYBUSINESS
THEAMBIVALENTCEOOFTHECONSTRUCTIONCOMPANY
DickSymanski,55,ownsaconstructioncompanyintheNortheast.Despitetheslowed
economyinhispartofthe country,Dickhasbeen able to maintain his company’s
substantialprofitabilityasaresultofselectivebidding,minimaldebt,andothergood
managementtechniques.
CASETHE AMBIVALENT CEO OF THECONSTRUCTIONCOMPANY
137
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Eventhoughhisbusinessisverysuccessful,Dickiscompletelyatalossoverwhatto
doabouttwosonsinthebusiness.AlanandHarry,bothintheirmid-30s,haveeach
beguntopresstheirfatherforanopportunitytoleadthecompany.ButDickhastaken
noaction,and hissonshave beguntobelieve thathe hasno appreciationfortheir
contribution to the success s ofthe company.Thesonsalso o seeDickas s passive and
indecisive,qualitiestheyresent.
WhileAlan and Harry haveboth demonstrated solidtechnical expertiseoverthe
years,theirmanagementskillshavenotbeen tested.Dickisjustnotsurewhattheir
leadership capabilitiesare.But t more e than n that,they y are the children from hisfirst
marriage—toawomanwhosealcoholabuseleftscarsonDickandhisentirefamily.
Dickishappilyremarried,andchildrenfromthesecondmarriagearebeginningto
pushforrolesinthecompany.DickisafraidthatgivingAlanandHarrystrongerroles
willresultin anxiety in hisnewfamily.Buthe’sjustassurethatnotdoingso will
escalatethetensionbetweenDickandhisoldersonsaswellasreopenwoundsfromthe
firstmarriage.
Dick regretshis inability to o act—itreminds s him ofhis frustration with h hisown
father,whoseemedequallyindecisivewhenDickworkedforhiminanotherbusiness.
Dickwantstopleaseeveryoneandavoidafurthersplitinthefamily.
PartofacaseseriesbytheFamilyFirmInstituteeditedbyErnestoJ.Poza.Thecasesarereal,butidentitieshavebeenchanged
to protect the privacy of f the individualsinvolved. Reprinted d with permission fromTheFamily Firm Institute,Inc.All rights
reserved.
CASE
8
SMALLFAMILYBUSINESS
BORROWINGTOGROWATANDREWSCOMPANY
RevenuesandgrossprofitfortheAndrewsCo.,a$25-million-a-yearmanufacturing
firm,havebeenlowerthisyearthaninthepasttwo.JohnKemper,aloanofficerfor
FirstCommercialBank,hasworkedwith theAndrewsaccountformanyyears.Yes-
terday,Michael Andrews,the seniormemberofthe family managementteam,met
withKempertodiscussaloanforexpandingmanufacturingfacilitiesandanincreasein
thecurrentlineofcredit.KemperaskedMichael abouthislong-rangeplansforthe
business and was given n a a sketchy 2-year financial l projection. . When n Kemper r asked
aboutmanagement’scapability to reverse thedeclininggrossprofittrends,Michael
confidentlypointedoutthathehadbroughtallofhisfourchildrenintomanagement
positionsandhadgiventhemeachthetitleofvicepresident.
Kemperknowsthetwooldestchildrenfairlywell.Theoldest,adaughter,whilevery
bright,hasalwaysgivenherhusbandandchildren firstpriority.The second,ason,
seemsuncommittedtomanaginganythingexcepttheamountofbeerheconsumesata
localtavern.
Earliertoday,Kempercalled Michaeltotell him thatwhile the bankisgoing to
continueitscurrentloans,itisunwillingtograntadditionalcreditatthistime.Michael
becameenragedandthreatenedtomovehisentirebankingbusinesstoacompetitor,
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FAMILY BUSINESS
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SecondNationalBank.Afterfumingforseveralhours,hehascalledameetingofthe
familymanagementteamtoconsideralternatives.
PartofacaseseriesbytheFamilyFirmInstituteeditedbyErnestoJ.Poza.Thecasesarereal,butidentitieshavebeenchanged
toprotect theprivacy oftheindividualsinvolved.Reprinted with permission from TheFamily FirmInstitute, Inc.All rights
reserved.
CASE
9
SMALLFAMILYBUSINESS
ADAMSFUNERALHOME
AdamsFuneralHomesturned132yearsoldin2006.Itisownedandoperatedbytwo
generations, the e third and fourth, , of f the e Adams s family. Richard Adams, , current
president,hiredDr.FredWhite,aretiredprofessorfromStateUniversity,asaSpecial
AssistanttothePresidentin2004.Dr.White,whoworked15to20hoursaweekat
thefuneralhome,isnowCharlesAdams’sspecialassistant.CharlieisRick’snephew
andpotentialfourth-generationsuccessor.Charlie’sfather,Robert(equalownerwith
Rick)isalsoactiveinmanagingthefamilybusinessandconsidershissonwellqualified
to bethesuccessor.Rick’sson,whopreviouslyworkedinthebusiness,iscurrently
activeinpoliticsanddoesnotseehimselfasasuccessortothebusiness.Anexecutive-
teammeetingisscheduledtoaddresstheissueofsuccession.CharlieandRoberthave
donethepreparationsnecessarytosupporttheselection ofCharlieasthe next-gen-
erationleaderofthefamilybusinessandtonamehimpresidentsoonthereafter.What
should Rick k do? Whatwould d be appropriate e next steps? ? If this were nota family
business,whatwouldyourecommendbedoneatAdamsFuneralHomes?
AdamsFuneralHomes,originallyknownasThomasW.AdamsFuneralHomehad
grown successfullythroughthe1960sfrom one to three locations.In the1970s,a
turning point, , the firm could have really y flourished d with the growth in Macon,
Georgia,andthesurroundingcommunities.ButtheAdamsfamilyfailedtocapitalize
onthoseopportunities.Thenin1980,PaulAdams(formerPresidentand51%owner)
passedawayandhisfamilydecidedtoclaimhisstockinentiretyfromthefuneralhome,
foraboutamilliondollars.Thistransactionabsorbedanycapitalthatcouldhavethen
beenusedforfurtherexpansion.
Fourth-generationmemberCharlesAdamsattendedGeorgiaStateUniversityand
graduatedin1999.Hethenwenttomortuaryschoolforayearandjoinedthefamily
businessfull-timeinAugust2001.Eversincehewas11or12yearsold,hehadbeen
regularly helping in thebusiness.In fact,Charlie remembersworking alongsidehis
grandfather when n he e was s only 7. Upon graduation, and perhaps the result of his
Catholicbackgroundand undergraduate studiesin philosophyand religion,Charlie
soughtaprofession that,inhiswords,“madeadifferencein people’slives.”Having
knownthefuneralhomebusinessintimately,hefeltalignedwiththebusiness’smission
andpurpose.HejoinedAdamsasafuneralserviceinternandworkedhiswayfromthe
bottomup:embalming,coordinatingfuneralservices,helpingoutwitharrangements,
andthelike.
CASEADAMS FUNERAL HOME
139
HisreflectionsonthestrengthsandweaknessesofAdamsFuneralHomeswhenhe
joinedthefamilyfirmin 2001 are thefollowing:Ontheplusside,Adamswascus-
tomer-focused,clearonitsmissionofservinggrievingfamiliesandacknowledgingthat
especially whenfacingthe death of aloved one,thefamilyisalways right. On the
negativeside,Charlieremembers,thebusinesswasnotbeingled.
Joseph Adams, Charles’s uncle e had d died in 1997. Soon thereafter a a nonfamily
managerbecamethecompany’sgeneralmanager.Topmanagementduringthisperiod
seemed tohavelittlerespectforseveral oftheassociates.Thebusinessofficeinpar-
ticularseemedto beinchaos;toomanypeoplewithouttherightskills.Theneeded
financial,humanresource,andgeneral-managementskillswerenowheretobefound.
The financial results of the business were terrible, and d personnel l problems s were
snowballingintoseriousthreatstothebusiness.Itwasobvioustoeverybody,Charlie
says,thatthebusinessneededtochangeandtodosoinahurry.
OnJanuary2,2002,theGeneralManagerwasfired.Hiscontracthadtobebought
out ata high cost. Adams Funeral l Homes s annual revenues were approximately 9
millionatthetime.LuckilytheCFO(whowaspartoftheoldadministration)stayed
withthefirm.Ahumanresourceandgeneralbusinessmanagerwhohadbeenhiredin
late2001,theCFOhadpreviouslyworkedforCoca-Cola,andwasseenasaneeded
infusionofprofessionalismintothebusiness.Sheundertookthefunctionsofhuman
resources,finance,purchasing,andinformationtechnologyandhelpedthebusinessto
trackitscostsandreceivablestomaximizeprofits.
Morerecently,anotherfamilyshareholder,oneofCharlie’suncles,died.Abuy–sell
agreement was in force. . (The buy–sell l regulates the transfer of shares s to o inactive
shareholders.)Thesharesinthehandsofhisuncle’swidowconvertedtononvoting
sharesuponhisuncle’sdeath.Acompanybuyoutofthosesharesiscurrentlybeing
negotiated. The e cost associated with the e buyout t will constrain Adams’s ability to
financepromisinggrowthinitiatives.
Regularweeklymeetingsofthefamilymanagementteamwereestablishedduring
thepastyearandanewmarketingplanisbeingdeveloped.Charliebelievesthatthe
familyneedstoagaingetexcitedaboutitsbusinessanditsprospects.Hewantstogrow
thebusiness.Butheisalsowellawarethatanychangeswillhavetobuildon,nottake
away from, , the e tremendous s reputation n and brand that has s been n built t over three
generations.Focusgroupsofpastclientsandcompetitorclientsarehelpingtoidentify
Adams’scontinuingstrengthsasatopserviceproviderandflagissuesforimprovement.
Charlieadds,“Whilewearepursuingthesenewmarketinginitiatives,weknowwho
weareandhowwedobusiness.Wordofmouthandcommunityinvolvementarealso
paramounttous.Andinanyeffortstoimproveandgrowweknowthatwecannotbe
focusedon thebottomlineonly,ifwearegoingto do wellin thelongterm.This
businessrequiresasenseofcalling,itisagreatministry.”
QUESTIONS:
1.ShouldCharliebechosenasthenextpresidentofAdamsFuneralHomes?Why
orwhy not? ? Should d this s happen in the e meeting g scheduled d for the e following
Thursday?
2.Whatprocessshouldbeusedtoarriveataplanandafinaldecision?
3.Whatactionsorstepsshouldbeincludedinthatplan?
140
FAMILY BUSINESS
4.Shouldnonfamilymanagersbeconsideredforthejob?Whyorwhynot?
5.Whatshouldbedoneontheownershipfronttosupportafinanciallyviable
transferand asmoothsuccessionwithoutpayingunnecessarily high estateand
transfertaxes?
CASE
10
FASTENERSFOR
RETAIL(PARTA)
InDecember1999,GerryConwayfacedthetoughestdecisionofhis37yearsasan
entrepreneur.Somethinghadtobedoneaboutthelong-termfutureofFastenersfor
Retail(FFr),thebusinesshehadfoundedin1962.Thecompanyhadbeenextremely
successful,withsalesdoublingevery5yearssincethe1980s,andthemarketforthe
company’s point-of-purchase e display y products s was s still growing. . Within n the past
2 years,the company had begun to expand from an enormously successful catalog
companyintoafull-serviceprovidertoglobalretailchains.
With no dominantplayersin FFr’sniche, , Conway sawnothing butopportunity
ahead.Still,hewasconcerned.Thecompanyhadbeendebt-freefromthestart,but
feedingitscontinuinggrowthwouldrequireaninfusionofcash.At69,Conwayfelt
thatthiswasmoreriskthanhewantedtoassume.Anevenmorepressingconcernwas
hissonandheirapparent’srecentannouncementthathedidnotwanttobecomeFFr’s
nextpresidentandinsteadplannedtoleavethecompany.Noneofhisotherchildren
wereinterestedinbecomingpartoftheleadershipteam.Conwaymused,
Iamagoodentrepreneur,butIamnotmanagerialinnatureandIdon’tlikethat
partofthebusiness.IhaveagoodmanagerhereinDonKimmel[thenonfamily
companypresident].Itistimetomoveon.Untilayearago,Icouldn’tdecidewhat
todobecauseIwasambivalent,butnowIhavereachedapointwhereIwantto
makeatransition.
This decision would affect the future of his family, his s business, , and its
95 employees.Shouldhesell the company,appointanonfamily CEO,orpersuade
anotherfamilymembertocomeintothebusiness?
THEFOUNDER
GerryConwaywastheclassicAmericanentrepreneur—visionary,charismatic,driven,
impatient,and independent.Born in Cleveland in 1931,Conway was s the ninth h of
13children.Hisloveoftheretailenvironment,hisstrongindependence,andhisdeep
appreciationofpeoplestemmedfromhischildhoodexperiences:
Withalittleexaggeration,IcansaythatI’vebeeninretailfor60years.MyDad
managedapproximately200foodstores,andmyfirstjobswereasastockboyand
butcher’sassistant.Athome,we’dtalkaboutbusinessoverthedinnertable.With
CASE10 FASTENERS FORRETAIL
(
PART A
)
141
11sonsand2daughtersinthefamily,itwasalivelyconversation.Ialreadyhadthe
entrepreneurialitch, and, fromthegroceryexperienceandfromhaving anews-
paperdeliveryroute,Ilearnedhowtogetalongwithpeople.
Aftercollege,Conwayandhiswife,Marty,returnedtoCleveland.Hebeganworking
foranindustrialfirmandquicklylearnedthat,whilesalesattractedhim,workingina
largecorporationdidnot.Conway’snextjobwaswithasmallerfirm:
Istartedsellingdisplaylithographyforasmallprinter.Whenthatcompanywent
bellyup,IfoundedGeraldA.Conway&Associatesandbecameadisplay-printing
broker.Iwas31yearsold,had$600inthebankandawifeandsixkidscountingon
me.Forthefirstfiveyears,Ihadonegoal—survival.Evenafterwewereestablished,
thecompanywasacentralpartofmylife.
Conwaywasanextremelypersonableman.Hemadefriendsandnetworkedwithease.
Oneday,acolleaguesuggestedthatheselltheplasticpartsthatretailersusetodisplay
signs (called display y and merchandising g accessories) as part t of f his s printing g broker
business.Theadvantageofsellingaccessorieswasthathecouldsellthesameproduct
to many companies s simultaneously,which was not possible in n display printing,for
which eachprintingjobwascustomized.An earlyproductideawastheArrowhead
fastener,whichwasdesignedtoholdcouponsandsignsonstoreshelves(FigureL).It
wasabestsellerfromthestart.Forthenextdecade,GeraldA.Conway&Associates
wasaprintingbrokerandasupplierofdisplayaccessories.
Duringthistime,Conwaystruggledwithalcohol:
In1970,alcoholwasbecomingaproblem,butthroughaself-helpprogramIchose
sobrietyandregainedfocusinmylife. Thefollowingyear,myfirstyearsober,my
incomeshotupbyabout35percent—adirectcorrelation.So,anyway,thatwasa
significanteventinthebusinessandformyfamily.
THEPOINT-OF-PURCHASEINDUSTRY
In the mid-1970s, , Gerald Conway y & & Associates s was renamed Fasteners for Retail
(FFr)toacknowledgeitsexclusivefocusondisplayaccessoriesandfastenerswithinthe
point-of-purchase(P-O-P)industry.
TheP-O-Pproductsincludethesigns,displays,devices,andstructuresthatareused
tomerchandiseservicesorproductsinretailstores.TheP-O-Pindustrywasestimated
tobea$13.1billionsector,basedon1997industryfigures(TableC).FFr’ssegment
wasestimated to o be e approximately $600 million.While the broader P-O-P market
was expected d to grow w at 4 percentannually, FFr and its competitors experienced
much higher growth rates. FFr, for r example, , had grown 19.6 percent annually
since1984.
Theaccessoryhardwaresegment(FFr’sniche) washighly fragmented.No single
supplierhadmorethan10percentofthesubsuppliermarket,andmanycompetedin
onlyafewproductcategories.FFrwasthelargestcompanyinthisniche,withamarket
shareofapproximately7.5percent.Thecompany’smajorproductofferingsincluded
shelf and nonshelf channel sign holders, display y hooks, , display construction, and
customproducts.FFralsoofferedshelfsystems,ceilingdisplaysystems,productstrips,
hangtaps,literatureholders,andotheraccessories.Severalkeycontractorsmanufac-
turedtheseproductsforFFr,butnosinglemanufacturerhaduniqueorproprietary
capabilities.
142
FAMILY BUSINESS
FASTENERSFORRETAIL(FFr):VALUE
ADDEDFROMTHESTART
FFrdistinguisheditselffromitscompetitorsinseveralimportantways.Thecompany
offeredabroadandinnovativeproductline,freesamples,quickturnaroundonorders,
andaliberalsalesreturnpolicy.
figure
L
ArrowheadFasteners
CourtesyofFFr.com
CASE10 FASTENERS FORRETAIL
(
PART A
)
143
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