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.
Generation of family ownership: Fifth.
2014 revenue: More than $50 million.
Number of employees: More than 300.
Years with the company: Twenty-seven.
First job at this company: Filing and making copies after school and on Saturdays, at age 13.
Most memorable thing I learned from my father: Do what you say you're going to do.
Most memorable thing I learned from my mother: She's from the South and is a stickler for manners.
With the Great Recession behind them, U.S. family business leaders have exited survival mode and are contemplating measures to strengthen their competitiveness. So reports accounting and advisory services firm PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), which recently released its fourth survey of U.S. family businesess. The survey is part of PwC's global study of family companies.
Most CEOs agree that family business success depends on running the business like a business, through measures such as minimizing family perks and instituting family employment policies. Even so, building family unity is as important as building and growing the business—and there is new evidence to prove it.
Editor's Note: Mitzi Perdue, third wife of the late Frank Perdue, is the daughter of Ernest Henderson, who co-founded and built the Sheraton Hotel chain. She was married to Frank Perdue, the leader of poultry processor Perdue Farms and the face of its TV ads, for 17 years—from 1988 until his death at age 84 in 2004.