In this issue
Last year, my wife and I decided to buy an iPod as a Christmas present to be shared by our two youngest children. Although we knew the "sharing" part might not come easily, we thought the experience would help develop their life skills. They found the iPod wrapped with both of their names on the tag; even so, my son took it and unwrapped it. "Awesome," he said. "Thanks for getting me this." How quickly he forgot that his sister's name was also on the tag and that we'd said the gift was for both of them to share.
Timo Recker, 28, is a third-generation member of a German family that owns a meat production company. Although the business is successful and growing, he knows that meat production is costly and that more people can be fed if everyone eats fewer meat products. He wanted to do something that would leverage the skills within his family and help create a sustainable future. With funding from his father, he used the family food production expertise to develop his own company, LikeMeat, which makes vegetable-based, meat-like products.
The decision to sell your business was a difficult one. Yet the timing was right, you found the right steward to buy your company and negotiated an exit that met the needs of your family. Now it's time to look ahead so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor in a way that makes the next chapter of life as rewarding as the prior one.
Redirecting the family's focus from the business to another meaningful pursuit is a high priority for many sellers. Numerous options exist to smooth the transition.
Adjusting to a liquidity event
In 2003, Abarta Inc, a third- and fourth-generation family business in Pittsburgh, began a search for a new board director. Abarta has interests in non-alcoholic beverages, energy, ethnic frozen foods and technology. Its ideal candidate was someone knowledgeable about the bottling industry who had a broad professional background. Lynn Clarke fit the bill. She was the CEO of Metrokitchen.com and had experience working in packaged goods, technology and e-commerce.
Rob and Laura Gordon opened their first restaurant, Top Five Dishes, in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood in 1984. The business now has 15 locations across Illinois and more than 600 employees.
Coffee Ambassador, founded in 1969 by Bill and Veronica Curtis in their Pacific Beach, Calif., home, now provides more than 250,000 cups of coffee a day to offices in San Diego County. CEO Sean Curtis, Bill and Veronica's son, describes the company in its early days as "a bootstrap out-of-the-garage startup."
Practicing corporate law for 30 years has allowed me not only to combine my passions for business and law, but also to help business owners grow their companies and pass a financial legacy on to their children and grandchildren.
A financial legacy is a wonderful gift, but I have come to realize that it is also vitally important to leave another type of legacy to them, one that will last forever—the story of your life.
Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business: How to Successfully Navigate Family Business Conflict and Transition, by Henry Hutcheson • Indie Books International, LLC 2014 • 196 pp., $20
Henry Hutcheson grew up in a business family and became a family business consultant after a management career with IBM, UPS and Sumitomo Electric. He has written about family business topics for newspapers in North Carolina, where his practice is based. In his new book, he sheds light on some issues that family business owners don't want to admit to others—or, in some cases, to themselves.