In this issue
Walking down Rectory Lane in Brasted, Kent, on a gloomy winter morning, you almost get the feeling that the “Iron Lady” is still there. Even though more than 100 years have passed since her death, the swirling English mist seems to take the shape of this legendary figure, pocketwatch in hand, clocking in Durtnell workers for the day's first shift. Woe to the poor laborer who happened to be even 30 seconds late. A tongue lashing, or worse, a firing on the spot, was what the Iron Lady had in store.
Over the last several months our offices have been deluged with calls from owners and their advisers wishing to explore the possibility of “doing an ESOP.” While the well-known tax benefits of employee stock ownership plans have been around since the mid-1970s, this old liquidity, estate planning, and ownership transfer technique is suddenly attracting vivid interest among family businesses.
Few aspects of operating a family business compare with compensation as a gut issue. Anyone who has been in an executive position can testify that decisions about pay, benefits, and perks can trigger explosive, unpleasant confrontations. Most owners wish the subject would just go away so people could forget the distraction and get on with their work.
According to ancient Greek myth, when young Theseus had proved he was ready, he set out on a long, perilous journey from his mother's house to the city of Athens, where his father, Aegeus, was king. If he survived the journey he would be found a worthy successor to his father's throne. Like all travelers before him, Theseus had to overcome many trials along the way, assuring that only the hardiest would reach the goal.