By Harrell Kerkhoff,
Maintenance Sales News Magazine Editor
Family businesses have a better chance of surviving and growing when conflicts within the family are kept to a minimum — and quickly resolved. Avoiding or reducing conflicts among family members who work together, however, is often easier said than done.
There are steps that can be taken to reduce the amount of friction within a family business, as well as increase the understanding of every family member when it comes to roles and expectations.
Addressing this topic during a 2017 ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America educational session, in Las Vegas, NV, was Henry Hutcheson, president of Family Business USA, a business consulting firm. Hutcheson gave two presentations. His second one, titled “Resolving Family Conflict In A Family Business,” is highlighted in this article. Hutcheson’s first presentation, titled “Preparing Your Business For The Next Generation,” was featured in the September 29, 2017 Maintenance Sales News eNews.
Hutcheson is a product of a well-known family business himself. His grandparents, Olan Mills Sr. and Mary Mills, founded Olan Mills Portrait Studios in the 1930s. Hutcheson was once employed in the family business, along with many other family members. At one time, he added, Olan Mills was considered one of the largest photography companies in the country, if not the world. After decades of prosperity, the company was sold in 2011.
“We (Olan Mills) went through every issue that a family business could possibly go through over the years, but we were able to succeed. That is why I’m here today, to show that family businesses can survive from one generation to the next,” he said.
Today, Hutcheson focuses on family business succession. His work includes helping family business leaders manage conflict, enhance communication, plan for a smooth transition from one generation to the next, and successfully assist the next generation to become high performance achievers. He is also author of the book, “Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business.”
Will Family Succession
At Your Company?
Just 33 percent of family businesses will successfully be passed on to the next generation, according to Hutcheson. In order to be part of that 33 percent, three fundamental questions about succession must be examined and truthfully answered. They are:
■ No. 1, is the next generation interested and capable in taking over the company some day? If interested, do they possess, or can develop, necessary skills. This includes the ability to communicate, and show financial acumen and strategic thinking;
■ No 2, is the current generation willing to eventually step back and let new family members take over the company?; and,
■ No 3, can family members of the next generation get along while running a business?
Hutcheson provided seven strategies that are designed to help the next generation of siblings, cousins and/or in-laws succeed in a family business setting. They are:
■ Put Childhood In The Past: Hutcheson said it’s common to see family members still upset about something that took place 10, 20 or even 30 years ago, when they all were still kids. These long disputes have no place in a family business.
■ Define Roles And Responsibilities: Understanding early on who is going to do what, within a family business, can alleviate a lot of problems in the future. Hutcheson added that having multiple owners in a business can be a good thing, but everybody needs a particular area of the company to call his/her own.
“This can include a project that he/she likes to work on and develop, one that makes the person proud,” he said.
This “space” helps create accountability for each family member in a business, which Hutcheson said is good.
■ Establish A Communication System: Hutcheson is a firm believer in family meetings when it comes to running a business.
“These meetings should take place, at a minimum, once a quarter,” he said. “Put it on the work calendar when you are going to hold such a meeting, and then discuss everything that needs to be discussed related to running a business with fellow family members.”
■ Don’t Let Disagreements Fester: “You can’t let 24 to 48 hours go by after a blowup. Such disputes at work involve a business and a relationship — both are important,” Hutcheson said.
■ Agree About Money And Benefits — Inside And Out: It’s important to establish early on the amount of pay for each family member, along with bonuses and benefits, according to Hutcheson.
■ Understand Each Other’s Goals: “Try to understand each family member’s time frames, goals, hopes and dreams as they relate to the business,” Hutcheson said.
■ Incorporate Some Fun: “It shouldn’t all be about work, work, work,” he added.
Hutcheson also discussed the importance of “active listening.” He noted that it’s easy to “hear” somebody talk but not actually “listen” to what the person is saying. The practice of active listening on a continual basis can prevent many personal, professional and family business conflicts from taking place.
Triangulation And Entitlement
In psychology, a manipulative tactic where one person does not communicate directly with a second person, but instead uses a third person as a sounding board for complaints about the second person, is known as “triangulation.” It’s a tactic that can divide any relationship, including those between family members at work.
“Working with your family is not always easy. Family is about unconditional love and support, while business is about making a profit. These two things don’t necessarily have anything to do with one another,” Hutcheson said. “One of the main reasons why certain family businesses do not succeed is that too many conflicts have taken place.”
He then gave an example of triangulation.
“Let’s say Dad and Son in a family business are having issues. Son keeps going to Mom, stating how ‘out-of-date’ Dad has become. Meanwhile, Dad keeps going to Mom, telling her how Son just doesn’t listen,” Hutcheson said. “What should Mom do?”
The solution to this problem, he added, is only going to happen when both disputing parties get together and work it out. In this case, Mom should “push” the dispute back to the two opposing sides.
“Mom is never going to get peace until Son and Dad meet and resolve the conflict. The more she gets involved in an effort to resolve the dispute, the less effective she will become,” he said. “People often get dragged into disputes between two warring sides, but it’s best to resist these conflicts. Of course, this is not always easy, but that is the nature of resolving a conflict.”
Another major issue that family businesses can run into is “entitlement.” This is when members of the next generation feel they have a certain level of prestige and power at a company, just because they are related to the owner(s).
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Hutcheson defined entitlement as: “An attitude or behavior that you are deserving of respect and privilege beyond your skills, knowledge and experience, because of who you know or what you have, not what you have accomplished.”
He added that entitlement in a family business can lead people to having unfounded or over confidence, and who may be reluctant to hear good outside advice. They may also have trouble being accepted by those at the company who have already “earned their own way.”
“My grandfather was Olan Mills. He was one of the most successful photography people in the country. It would be easy for me to believe that I am also a great photographer and develop a feeling of entitlement,” Hutcheson said. “In reality, I’m not a great photographer at all.”
When it comes to members of the next generation entering a family business, Hutcheson said it’s good for the preceding generation to “make them earn it ... but don’t overdo it either.”
“It’s beneficial for family members to start at the bottom of a company, learn the business and pay their dues. This helps them have a better understanding of what really is required at the bottom levels to make the company work,” he said.
Hutcheson spoke about a daughter of a family business owner who went to the company’s factory and actually worked on the production floor for a time with co-workers, helping to make the company’s products.
“Can you picture this? The employees loved it when the daughter was working in the trenches with them, doing the dirty work,” Hutcheson said. “This will help the daughter when it comes time for her to actually lead the company.”
Guarding against the unintended consequences of wealth is something every company owner should be aware of for the benefit of future generations. These unintended consequences can come in three basic forms:
■ Financial — Uncontrolled spending, trust fund babies;
■ Intellectual — Lack of ambition, identity wrapped up in money; and,
■ Emotional — Lack of self-esteem; dependence, entitlement and/or guilt which can sometimes lead to addiction.
To help counter the negative effects associated with wealth, Hutcheson outlined several financial values that children should learn at a young age. They are: the ability to handle hearing the word “no,” being able to differentiate between “wants” and “needs,” the ability to tolerate delayed gratification and to make tradeoffs, and developing a healthy level of skepticism.
“Conflict in a family business can start from a member of the younger generation who feels that, ‘This is my family’s business, and when my parents die, it’s all coming to me,’” Hutcheson said. “This attitude can create a tremendous amount of conflict with the older generation. These are people who remember all of the hard work that took place to get the family business to a successful point.”
Hutcheson recommends family businesses write down an actual “code of conduct,” to be followed by all generations represented at a company. These are simple, yet important guidelines that can set the tone for family cohesiveness. Examples include: be on time, no personal attacks, recognize personal and business boundaries, and show honor and respect for each other.
“A code of conduct is an agreement that helps improve communication and order among family members in a business. These codes should be written down and become a living document,” Hutcheson said. “My favorite code of conduct (at a family business) is, ‘Do not scream, yell, shout, pound or point.’”
— Every Generation Has Them
As long as there have been generations, there have been generational conflicts. These conflicts can be hard enough for family members who are not in business together. They are often compounded when family members have to be together every workday.
“With each generation, there is obviously a difference in perspective as life evolves,” Hutcheson said. “For many, today’s generational gap seems even bigger.”
This is primarily due to today’s technology, which has allowed more people, especially those from the millennial generation (generally referred to people born from 1980 and 1995), to work wherever and whenever they choose, Hutcheson said. This is much to the dismay of many workers from older generations, such as baby boomers (those born from approximately 1946 to 1964).
“The baby boomer generation, of which I am a member, is known for people who believe in loyalty, sacrifice, being on time, dressing appropriately and working hard. Many members of older generations struggle to understand why younger people don’t seem to behave in this manner,” Hutcheson said. “Fact of the matter is, the ability to be effective in today’s world, with this older type of work mentality, is going away.”
He noted that members of the younger generations often have a hard time convincing older co-workers that they can get a lot of work done between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m. with the use of today’s technology, and that the need to be in the office every day by 9 a.m. is outdated. On the flip side, co-workers from the older generation see a greater need to “mind the store” during regular business hours.
“There are no clean answers. The one answer I do have is that the older generation needs to realize that there is some merit to what the next generation is talking about, while the next generation must understand that what the older generation is saying concerning the fundamentals of running a business is also true,” Hutcheson said.
He further outlined what members of older generations should understand about the desires of younger people:
■ They have a constant need to experience a meaningful life;
■ They want to accomplish something on their own;
■ It’s important to give them opportunities, even if they fail;
■ They can’t just be happy with money and a title;
■ They know more about technology; and,
■ They know more about a lot of things.
Hutcheson then listed what members of the “next” generation need to understand concerning their older counterparts:
■ They built this company and deserve your respect;
■ You (younger members of the company) will get your chance;
■ Stepping back (for members of the older generation) will be hard. Don’t rush them; and,
■ Don’t push too hard with new ideas and new technology.
He added it’s important that members of all generations agree that everybody is different.
for more information.
Nyco Awards 2017 Rep Of The Year Honors To K.J.A., Inc., And J.J. Shearer Co.
Nyco Products Company recently awarded manufacturers representatives J.J. Shearer Company and K.J.A., Inc., Nyco Representative of the Year awards for 2017.
The awards were presented during the 2017 ISSA/INTERCLEAN show in Las Vegas. Nyco said each agency received the award based on outstanding sales growth and percentage of growth of Nyco’s portfolio over the past year.
J.J. Shearer Company, located in Minnetonka, MN, represents Nyco’s janitorial and food service business in the Upper Midwest region, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and part of Wisconsin. In business since 1932, the organization has represented Nyco since 2007.
K.J.A., Inc., represents Nyco’s janitorial, industrial and food service products and services in the Midwest, including Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and southern Illinois. Established in 1979, and based in St. Louis, MO, K.J.A. began its partnership with Nyco in 2014.
John Wunderlich, vice president of sales for Nyco said, “Nyco has been highly impressed with the way K.J. A. and J.J. Shearer have represented us this past year. They understand our mission of building better brands for customers, and have put a lot of hard work and dedication into making that happen. We are proud to have them as part of our team.”
Nyco Products Company is a privately owned manufacturer of national cleaning brands and a distributor of private branded chemicals used in the sanitary maintenance, industrial, institutional and other specialty cleaning markets. For more information, visit www.nycoproducts.com.
Pictured left to right from the J.J. Shearer Company are: Steve Zellmer; Jay Shearer; John Wunderlich, national v.p. of sales for Nyco;
Karri Klein and Rik Schubel.
Pictured left to right from K.J.A. are: John Wunderlich, national v.p. of sales for Nyco; Jennifer Wells, president; Gary Smith, Ken Blucker and Jim Morris.
Spartan Chemical Honored
By Capital Sanitary Supply As Its 2016 Vendor Of The Year
Spartan Chemical Company, a formulator and manufacturer of sustainable cleaning and sanitation products for the industrial and institutional market, has been selected as Capital Sanitary Supply’s 2016 Vendor of the Year.
“The award is determined via a voting process by Capital’s management and sales team. The recipient of the award is selected based on factors such as product quality, product innovation, exclusivity, breadth of line and pricing,” according to a Spartan press release.
“Spartan supports us by shipping to multiple branch locations, and by having representation that is dedicated to distributor growth,” said Scott Ireland, president of Capital Sanitary. “We have a long history with Spartan, and look forward to continuing our relationship for many years to come.”
The award was presented by Doug Ireland, CEO, Capital Sanitary, Scott Ireland, president, Capital Sanitary, and Dave Smetzer, sales manager, Capital Sanitary. Spartan was represented by Greg Ford, vice president of sales, Bryan Mangum, general sales manager, Darwin Larson and Alana Crollard, Spartan regional managers.
Pictured, from left to right, are Dave Smetzer, sales manager, Capital Sanitary; Bryan Mangum, Spartan general sales manager; Doug Ireland, CEO, Capital Sanitary; Greg Ford, Spartan vice president – sales; Alana Crollard, Spartan regional manager; Scott Ireland, president, Capital Sanitary; and Darwin Larson, Spartan regional manager.
Spartan’s chemical products and services are used in building service contractor, education, healthcare, food service and processing, lodging/hospitality and industrial markets.
Capital Sanitary is a distributor of sanitary supplies and equipment in Iowa and Nebraska. It has 85-plus employees and 5 locations throughout Iowa.
Visit Spartan Chemical Company at www.spartanchemical.com. Visit Capital Sanitary Supply at www.capitalsanitary.com.
News From Triple S
Triple S Holdings Acquires Certified Chemical Company
T-S Holdings, Inc., (d.b.a. Triple S Holdings) has announced the asset purchase of Certified Chemical Co., Easton, PA.
Alan E. Sadler, president, Triple S Holdings, said, "The Certified Chemical Co. team put a great deal of effort into building a loyal customer following, and have expended a great deal of energy in managing the company through some challenging times recently. Their loyal customer base is a solid reflection of their 'value added' approach to business development. We are pleased to welcome Dave (Sames) and the CCC Team to the Triple S Holding's family, and pleased to have the opportunity to help position the team and our new branch for continued growth."
"Ron Keschl, my partner, and I are very pleased to have what we built at Certified Chemical Co. continue as a part of the greater Triple S family. As prior owners, Ron and I take comfort in knowing that we have the strength of Triple S Holdings supporting our future efforts, and are confident that we will be presented with new opportunities for growth and professional development,” said David Sames, former president of Certified Chemical.
In addition, David Sames has been named branch manager, and Ron Keschl has been appointed warehouse and repair services manager, for Triple S — Lehigh Valley, (formerly Certified Chemical Co.).
"We are very pleased that Dave and Ron, as well as Laurel Sames (Dave Sames’ daughter) have all elected to stay active in the business," said Sadler.
Triple S Holdings is a subsidiary of Standardized Sanitation Systems, Inc., (d.b.a. Triple S).
The company said, “Triple S Holdings was created to provide member and non-member owners of jan/san distribution companies an exit strategy that would allow them to transition out of their businesses in a manner that would be least disruptive to their employees and customers.”
For additional information concerning Triple S Holdings or this acquisition, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-435-2700.
Triple S Members Receive ISSA Awards
During the recent ISSA Show, three individuals from the Triple S membership were honored for their contributions to the industry, and one was elected to a leadership position.
Michael Tighe, president of ICPI, was awarded an Industry Special Achievement Award by the ISSA Young Executive Society, for his leadership contribution to the advancement of the industry.
Michelle Munvez, vice president of Chemcraft Industries, was awarded the Hygieia Network Rising Star of the Year Award, given to a woman under the age of 35, who has made an outstanding contribution to the cleaning industry— and fulfills one or more goals of the Hygieia Network.
Jim Chittom Sr.
Jim Chittom Sr., CEO of Athens Janitor Supply, Augusta Janitorial Supplies, and Roman Chemical Corporation, earned the Membership Development Award, for recruiting at least 25 new ISSA Members.
Jim Chittom Jr.
Jim Chittom Jr., president of Roman Chemical Corporation, was recently elected to ISSA’s 2018 board of directors, and will serve as the board’s executive officer.
“We congratulate these individuals on their achievements,” said Eric Flinton, president of Triple S. “Their successes showcase the drive, passion and commitment to excellence that define Triple S membership.”
Based in Billerica, MA, Triple S is a member-owned, national distribution, networking, sales, marketing and logistics company in the facility maintenance supply industry. It offers nationwide service to the education, healthcare, contractor, industrial, and government markets.
For more information about Triple S,
call 800-323- 2251.