In this issue
Highlights magazine, revered by young readers and their parents since its founding nearly 75 years ago, presents educational content in format so subtle that children don’t even notice they’re learning. Seeking out images in a “Hidden Pictures” puzzle or pondering the behavior of recurring characters Goofus and Gallant just seems like entertainment.
Our family business, E. Ritter & Company (ERC), was founded in the 1880s as a general merchandise store. ERC entered the communications business in 1906 when our founder, Ernest Ritter, installed a 10-line telephone switch in the back of his general merchandise store. Today Ritter Communications, a subsidiary of ERC, offers advanced internet, phone, video services and cloud solutions to wholesale, business and residential customers, primarily in Arkansas and Tennessee.
Last year, someone asked me a simple question that led to quite a bit of thought and discussion: How do I know if my family office is successful? The most common initial answers (investment returns, tax benefits) feel flippant and incomplete. One former family office president said, “I considered each year a success if I didn’t screw anything up … (long pause) badly.”
Pay decisions and processes are key components of a company’s talent strategy. As your company’s overall business strategy evolves, so too must its pay philosophy and programs. Leaders often rely on their own experience or on their boards for compensation advice. However, there are times when an outside compensation consultant can be a valuable resource. Consultants not only have up-to-date market data but also can independently think through your compensation issues, develop solutions and help implement them.
Whether an adult son or daughter is eager to understand the ins and outs of the family business or a curious grandchild expresses passion for creating a difference in the world using impact investing strategies, a family’s rising generation needs opportunities for development and leadership more than ever. There are many ways for the rising generation to find a voice and engagement within their family enterprise.
On 1,400 acres of woodlands in Boyds Mills, Pa., sits the homestead of the Myers family, descendants of the couple who founded Highlights for Children Inc. The third through fifth generations participate in annual retreats on the property that keep the family connected to each other and grounded in the legacy of founders Garry C. and Caroline Myers.
In many family businesses, it’s the younger generation that’s eager to charge ahead and the elders who rein them in. At Summer Classics, a Pelham, Ala.-based manufacturer and retailer of luxury outdoor furniture, those roles are reversed. Founder and CEO William Bew White III, known as Bew, is the risk-taker. His son William Bew White IV, known as William, is more cautious.
Bew, 69, says he has an MBA in mistakes — “possibly much more educational than an MBA from Harvard, and a lot more expensive.”
After years of dedication to building your business and seeing it through countless ups and downs, you might receive an offer for the company that you can’t refuse. While this may sound like a great opportunity, you must prepare yourself and your family for life after the sale.
Prepare for an emotional rollercoaster
Deciding to sell a company you founded or helped build can feel like riding an emotional rollercoaster. Add in the expectation of an influx of newfound wealth, and you may find yourself facing an identity crisis.
Senior editor April Hall and our whole team at Family Business have been very excited about April’s profile of Highlights for Children Inc. in this edition. Many of us were subscribers as children, and enjoyment of the magazine, which turns 74 this year, has been passed down through the generations in our families.