In this issue
Victor Posateri first contacted me in May 2004 with a family situation that required an outside perspective. His son and his two nephews were not interested in joining the family business. Victor (a pseudonym) and his three sisters, who were stockholders but not actively involved in the company’s day-to-day operations, recognized that some changes were needed. Either the company would have to be sold or they would have to appoint a non-family member as Victor’s successor. For the first time in more than 75 years, there would no longer be a Posateri heading the company.
The clanking dishes were a familiar sound; the busy summer season had begun. For the next 14 weeks, Wash and Sons’ Seafood Restaurant would dominate our lives.
The men—mainly my uncles now that Grandpop had passed on —worked their regular jobs, then arrived at the restaurant in time to eat dinner before the night shift. The women—Grandmom, my aunts and Mom on the weekends—ran the day shift. Teen grandchildren and friends worked as pantry help, busboys, dishwashers, waiters and waitresses. Family members within any reasonable distance from Atlantic City worked on the weekends.
There are many reasons why family business succession is difficult, but one of the most common problems involves the lack of a qualified successor. Often next-generation family members are not prepared for the job or are simply not interested, so the business must seek candidates outside of the family. These outside executives must not only be experienced but also share the family’s values and fit in with the family business culture.
A job applicant’s experience, education and training aren’t the most important factors when you’re building a management team or other business unit. The foremost consideration is what the candidate is like as a person.