Stephen Covey_Trust and Inspire

Trust & Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others

Stephen M.R. Covey has been a student of leadership his whole life; his father, Stephen R. Covey, was the author of the enormously popular book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Through his own work, which includes the NYT bestselling The Speed of Trust and more recently, Trust & Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others, Stephen has spent his career observing and studying effective leadership and its hallmarks. His insights are profound.

In this Tugboat Institute® talk, Stephen shares the core of his message from Trust & Inspire. According to Stephen, many of today’s leaders continue to operate in the style of yesterday’s leaders, which he calls Command & Control. However, the world has changed. Employees at all levels are motivated by Purpose and seek personal growth and fulfillment through their work. By tapping into this, each of us has the capacity to be great. The key to guiding us to our own greatness is leadership that leans into the Trust & Inspire style instead.

Watch and understand the power of Trust & Inspire, and take away specific strategies to begin unleashing greatness in your team.

Rick-Bucher-non family ceo

Thriving as a Non-Family CEO in a Family-Owned Business

I am the non-family CEO of Victaulic, a 104-year-old family-owned company. I’ve been at the company for 14 years and have been CEO for almost three years. My initial decision to join Victaulic was grounded in our shared values and Evergreen® perspective on business, and my experience leading the company has been wonderful for largely the same reasons. I am often asked what it’s like to be a non-family CEO of a multi-generational family company, so I have spent some time thinking it through. I believe our success rests on a few key, foundational factors which are specific to Victaulic.

First, Victaulic is unique in that it has never had a family member working within its ranks. It was decreed from the beginning that this would never happen. Our legacy began with our first patent in 1919 when two men, Lt. Ernest Tribe, a British Royal Engineer, and Dr. Henry Selby Hele-Shaw, an eminent research engineer, imagined a solution to move fuel to the troops on the front line. This innovative solution to swiftly and effectively connect pipes led to the company's inception. The “victory joint,” so named because of its potential use by the British soldiers during wartime, was quickly adopted and early applications were used in the oil and water markets outside of military applications. At the end of the war, Mr. Frederick Bedford, who was working as an executive at Standard Oil, saw the value of this invention and proposed to his boss, Nelson Rockefeller, that they launch a business manufacturing and selling the connectors. Rockefeller was not interested, but he gave Bedford the green light to pursue the idea as an investor, provided he agreed to one condition: no Bedford family member should ever be employed by the company. In 1925, Bedford founded Victaulic Company of America with James H. Hayes serving as chairman and president.

This prohibition of family members ever working in the company removed one potential challenge for a non-family CEO at Victaulic, since all CEOs would always be non-family. There is not and will never be a risk of family dynamics that get in the way of a CEOs ability to run the company effectively.

Fast forward to the present, Victaulic has emerged as a global leader in pipe-joining solutions, with a prominent presence in iconic structures and industrial sites worldwide. Victaulic solutions are installed in ten of the world’s tallest buildings, eight of the world’s deepest mines, across dozens of Olympic stadiums and sports facilities, and in landmarks such as the Hoover Dam, the Louvre Museum in Paris, and Wimbledon Center Court. Even if you have never heard of us, the chances that you are sitting in a building that contains a Victaulic system right now are high. As the company has grown and thrived, so has the Bedford family. A second reason I have had such a positive experience working in this company is the family itself.

The family owners' commitment to and passion for Victaulic are profound. Though they are not actively involved in day-to-day operations, their engagement in board meetings and participation in significant decisions underscore their dedication to the company's growth and well-being. There is a strong ethos of caring for and remaining connected to the company that dates back to the founder, who took great care to educate his family (our current owners) about Victaulic. Family members regularly visit Victaulic facilities and construction jobsites when they travel, and they feel a strong sense of pride in and connectedness to the company. As a result, they see Victaulic as far more than a dividend check, but an extension of their family, and are invested in its success and long-term growth. They are supportive of leadership, which they know will never be their job, and they are eager to ensure that their influence is positive and does not stand as an obstacle to progress and success.

Working with such a family has been a great pleasure; my relationship with the board is positive, productive, and respectful. Maintaining open lines of communication, I regularly share monthly results with the owners and seek their guidance on strategic matters. This mutual trust has fostered a collaborative and productive relationship, enabling us to face challenges and seize opportunities together.

The third and perhaps most important reason my experience at Victaulic has been so overwhelmingly positive has, again, to do with the family owners. One of the reasons I decided to leave a job and a company I loved and join Victaulic was their Evergreen mindset, although we didn’t have the language to call it that at the time. The focus on constant evolution rather than radical changes, long-term and patient strategy, and positive impact in the community and the world resonated with my professional inclinations. This mindset is integral to our operations and has been a driving force behind our sustained growth and success. Our shared core values prioritize people and communities, transcending mere profit-seeking objectives.

Additionally, our owners have been diligent and steadfast in engaging with our workforce of talented associates. They are motivated by the belief that by building employee relationships and taking care of People First, our employees will in turn take care of our customers, suppliers, partners, communities, and their families. This Evergreen value is shown time and again to all of our employees regardless of their level in the organization. From attending holiday functions and business planning meetings to welcoming new employees when mergers are completed and walking the operations/manufacturing floor during COVID, our owners make it a point to be active and visible. They know the best business decisions are never solely about strategy, sales or marketing. At least not directly. They are always people decisions. Those we hire, and how we manage, engage, and develop our employees have far greater impacts on our business results than the things we usually think of as driving success.

The success of leading a family-owned company as a non-family CEO lies in the alignment of values. In my unique case, I will never have to contend with a potential family member who might seek to take the reins. That simplifies things, but really, if you and the family owners share a similar value set, the rest falls into place. Open communication, a respectful commitment to staying in our lanes, and a shared, Evergreen mindset are the ingredients that can make any non-family CEO successful in leadership of a multi-generational family business. If you are looking at a potential opportunity and have concerns about how it might work, I suggest you start with these foundational factors.

Oscar Gonzalez_Great Leaps of Faith

Great Leaps of Faith

Oscar Gonzalez is the youngest of 13 siblings. When he was very young, his father and a few of Oscar's older brothers took the first step toward moving the entire family from Mexico to the United States. Through extraordinary perseverance, patience, and hard work, the entire Gonzalez clan eventually landed in Southern California, where the family business, Northgate Markets, was founded.

In this Tugboat Institute® talk, Oscar shares the story of his father’s dream and the steps, which took years to unfold, that made it a reality. Along with careful planning, dedicated hard work, and an entrepreneurial spirit, Oscar’s family succeeded thanks to their courage. Their deep, shared belief that their dream could become a reality gave them the faith they needed to take a few remarkable risks, or leaps of faith.

Watch and be inspired to take a risk for your dream, fueled by your own deep faith in its promise and possibility.

George-Giudici Crescent Collaboration

Uniting Strengths: Collaborative Innovation for Growth

As an Evergreen® leader, I believe deeply in leading a People First organization. As part of that belief, I understand the value of relationships. Taking the time to establish trust and communication – with colleagues, customers, suppliers, and community members – unlocks the doors for collaboration, and collaboration is one of the most effective paths I know to innovation. As the third-generation leader of Crescent Parts & Equipment (CPE), some of the relationships I have the honor of maintaining exist not simply between individuals, but between the company my grandfather founded and people in his sphere who have been friends for more than a generation.

CPE is an HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration) parts and equipment wholesale distributor in Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa. The nature of our business means that we often partner with service technicians, builders, and other professionals, so collaboration is necessary and frequent. Some of our relationships, however, date back farther and are stronger than others. Hoffmann Brothers is a great example. They are a prominent HVAC service provider based in St. Louis, and we have been their primary equipment supplier for quite some time. Their CEO is also a fellow member of Tugboat Institute®! Hoffmann Brothers is one of our largest accounts and their family and ours have been friends for over a generation. I spend a lot of time outside work with Robert Hoffmann and his sons Chris and Joe, who are the current CEO and GM-St Louis Operations. I have known Chris and Joe since they were kids.

Our business with Hoffmann Brothers happens in two primary ways. Let’s say you wake up in the morning and your house is too hot or too cold. You call Hoffmann Brothers, or a similar company. They come and evaluate the situation, and they either need to replace an old part with a new one, or they advise you that the unit is too old to fix, and you need to replace it entirely. Either way, they come to us for the part or new unit.

A few years ago, I was out on a hunting trip with Robert, Chris, and Joe. In the evening, after a long day in the field, we started talking shop. We saw some inherent inefficiencies in the process we were using, and we knew that if we could figure out how to enhance our respective positions in the marketplace, we would all win, so we started brainstorming ways to improve. We hit on the idea that if we could figure out how to handle the product less, we would both see improvements.

When we got home, I reached out to a professor who is a supply chain optimization expert from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, with whom we had worked before. The collaboration was a collective effort, with Crescent and Hoffmann Brothers working closely together throughout the process. Ultimately, we designed our solution together. The vision was simple yet powerful: a dedicated, shared space inside of a Hoffmann Brothers' location, solely dedicated to handling their HVAC requirements.

Our primary goal was to streamline processes, reduce handling costs, and optimize inventory management. We knew that our expertise in lean principles and supply chain optimization could be instrumental in achieving this vision. In April 2022, we officially launched the collaboration. We stationed two Crescent employees within a Hoffmann Brothers' building, providing easy access to the parts and equipment needed for daily jobs. The Crescent section of the approximately 18,000 square foot building occupies about 2,400 square feet, so it’s a significant footprint. Every afternoon, our employees prepare the materials for the next day, ensuring that Hoffmann Brothers' technicians have everything they need when they arrive in the morning. By about 3pm, our team starts packaging and staging the materials that each Hoffmann Brothers team will need for the next day – air conditioners, furnaces, parts, and components. They set them in the area dedicated to each team, so when the Hoffmann Brothers employees show up for work at 6:30 or 7am, they just grab their pallets and go.

The most significant and immediate benefit of the collaboration has been the improved customer service experienced by Hoffmann Brothers' clients. With our dedicated employees on-site, the response time for obtaining parts and equipment has been significantly reduced. This streamlined process results in faster turnaround times for repairs and installations, ultimately leading to increased customer satisfaction. By reducing the distance and time involved in sourcing parts and equipment, we made the entire process more efficient. This approach eliminated waste and redundancies, making the overall system leaner and more cost-effective for both our companies.

The collaboration and subsequent innovation were built on a foundation of trust and friendship between Crescent and Hoffmann Brothers. The fact that we are both Evergreen companies is an easy way to articulate what really underpins the success of our partnership: a shared set of values, similar long-term mindsets, and a deep commitment to improving the experience of our employees, customers, and partners.

As the President of Crescent, I am proud of the steps we have taken to foster collaboration and innovation. The success of this partnership has taught me valuable lessons about the power of trust, lean principles, and customer-centricity. Moving forward, I am excited to build on this experience and continue exploring new ways to enhance our relationships with customers and drive positive change within our industry.

John Montgomery Audacious Risk

Risking More for an Audacious Purpose

John Montgomery, Founder & CEO of Bridgeway Capital Management, manages risk for his clients for a living. However, he noticed long ago that even the most audacious business leaders tend to take much smaller risks outside of business. Given the string of human catastrophes he has watched unfold and learned about in his lifetime, he decided to set the bar higher. Bridgeway, and the non-profit they founded and support, aim to end genocide worldwide.

In this Tugboat Institute® talk, John shares the work Bridgeway’s foundation has done since its founding to end genocide, first in Africa, and most recently in Ukraine. They were instrumental in making it possible to resume exports of grain from the Ukrainian ports last year, thus protecting millions of people worldwide from famine. Their story proves that even the most audacious goals can be attainable.

Watch and be inspired to take a risk for an audacious purpose.

Zach-Burns Space for team

Create a Space for Your Team and They Will Come!

At The Motz Group, like so many of you, post-pandemic we found ourselves wrestling with the challenge of many employees choosing to work remotely or on a hybrid model. And like many of you, we discovered that there is a significant cost to culture when the team is not together. We are perhaps unique in that, even before 2020, our team was fragmented, and therefore we were already searching for a solution to this problem when the pandemic hit. This turned out to be a great advantage as we sought to solve this challenge.

We are a sport field construction company, and we also provide products that go into synthetic turf sport fields and landscape applications. Our workforce numbers about 120, half of whom work out of a Cincinnati facility. The rest are either field-based sales reps or part of our field installation crews. We have experienced significant, steady growth over time, and as we grew, we added new space to our headquarters vertically, creating a series of different floors with different offices and different micro-cultures. This on top of the fact that so many of our employees are not office-based at all led us to prioritize finding and creating a new space where as much of our team as possible could be together. Moving into 2020, we had made a few moves to this end, including flattening the organizational structure and starting a search for a new space to allow for more collaboration. We were still talking about future real estate options when everything came to a halt.

The spring of 2020 saw everyone leave the office and go home, but as we moved into summer, we started to get back to work. Like everywhere, people who work in offices were largely working from home, but there was enough activity that we felt emboldened to make a move some may have seen as risky; in the face of all the uncertainty, recognizing that collaboration and teamwork were pivotal to our success, we decided to forge ahead with our plan to buy and start work on our new space.

Through the rest of 2020 and into 2021, we were deep in the design process for the new space. In the meantime, as work picked back up, we welcomed everyone back to the office, but we never forced it. Our mantra was always ‘office first, with flexibility.’ If you were better that day to work at home, do it. If you felt you could be more efficient and highly productive by being remote, do it. But we knew that for some things, like one-to-ones, team meetings, cross-departmental meetings, and huddles, something was lost when we were not all present. There we were, preparing to invest enormous time, effort, and money into this new space and we asked ourselves, “Are they ever coming back?”

As we considered this dilemma, it became clear that if we wanted everybody back, we had to earn it. We had to create an environment where people wanted to be there, where they wanted to fill the seats, to collaborate, to see their buddy. We realized that our new space would either be the key to the solution or, if we did it wrong, make our remote situation permanent. We set to work with this goal in mind.

Ultimately, we looked at this process as a great opportunity to declare our identity as an Evergreen®, People First company and to separate who we are in this community. As an employer of choice, you’ve got to earn people’s time; they have choices now. The design process was really cool; we brought in not just the folks that were actually going to inhabit the office on a daily basis, but also our field personnel, and we did collaborative brainstorming sessions of what the space could be.

In the end, the transformation of our space was driven not simply by our desire to return to the office, but also to create a workspace that aligned with our values. The result was a vibrant hub that symbolizes humility, inclusivity, and renewal. The architecture combines elements of concrete, steel, glass, water, and fire. This is a place where employees from all walks of life can come together – from those in collared shirts to those with mud on their boots. And for those stationed in a different city, we invested in technology to ensure that remote employees could connect seamlessly, which further fostered a sense of inclusivity, even for those who could not be physically present. As people started to return to our new space, we reinstated practices like monthly birthday lunches, happy hours, and quarterly in-person meetings. We did everything we could to make the office a place where our teams felt comfortable, inspired, connected, and at home. As an employee-owned company, we strove to construct a building that truly belonged to the team.

The transition was not just about the physical space; it was also a pivotal moment in Motz’s succession story. Joe Motz, our Founder, returned from sabbatical right at the start of the pandemic and we began the gradual process of my transition to CEO. In 2020, he named me President and I took all his direct reports, but he was still heavily involved with running the business. Then, through the building project, for which we broke ground in 2022, Joe detached from strategic touchpoints and immersed himself in physically building and renewing the property, to the point of literally jumping onto a bulldozer and doing site work himself. In a symbolic move, we built the new building without an office for Joe in it; he spent those years building something he ultimately would not have a home in. However, his presence is strongly exhibited throughout the building, inside and out. From hand-built wooden features, a koi pond for calmness, and beautiful landscaping, his legacy will stand strong and forever be an inspiration to our current and future team. Thanks to this, his transition to Founder felt natural and complete.

Did it work? Have people come back to the office? I don't keep stats on it, but overwhelmingly, people are here. We don't have any mandates around it; we still don’t say you have to be here a certain number of days. It's still the same - flexible. But people are coming in to take part in the experience. Our field crews come in in the morning for coffee, we have a hoteling space for our salespeople when they are here, and we have spaces for project management teams to work together. They walk in and they think, "I helped envision this, and I helped to design it. This is my place."

The space we created has allowed for more advantages than simply bringing our team back together. We have opened our space for our customers to use for meetings and gatherings. Recently, over 30 athletic directors that make up the Southwest Ohio Athletic Directors Association (SWOADA) hosted a meeting at Motz. Truly a win-win, they get to have a productive work session in a collaborative, inspiring environment and we get to deepen our relationships with our valued customers. Another is the adjacent property we gifted – a brand-new synthetic turf field to a local community church. Motz’s Purpose is Moving People to Better Lives. In addition to showcasing our most recent technologies right outside our front door, this means that now we can look out the windows every day and see our purpose in action - 100 children playing on the field.

The lesson we see in this story is that the best way we found to bring our team back together in person was to create a space that exemplified and embodied our values. We built a space that invites a culture that people want to be part of. The rest is falling into place – our place.

Mel Gravely John Gavan John Garrett

Closing the Gap: Taking Action in Our Spheres of Influence

At Tugboat Institute® Summit 2023, Tugboat members John Gavan and John Garrett joined Mel Gravely on the stage to share the learnings and actions they have taken themselves in the two years since Mel’s first Tugboat Institute talk, What We Can Do Together About Race?

Instead of being directive about what any of us should or should not be doing to help close the rights gap by race, John and John each offered examples of what their first steps were and what progress they have made, in both the personal and professional spheres, on this important topic. John Gavan has directed his efforts through LeaderFlow, an industry-based organization he co-founded to support upcoming, diverse leaders in the field of architecture, engineering, and construction. John Garrett’s efforts started on a more personal level and have led to realizations and new understandings that have and will continue to inform the way he runs his business.

Mel deftly moderates this discussion, which not only offers ideas and inspiration to business leaders looking to learn and to take their first steps, but which also stands as proof that courageous and respectful conversations are possible.

Rick Keyes on stage

Tugboat Institute @Meijer: Persist with Purpose and Create Something Extraordinary

While not well known outside of the Midwest, Meijer is a remarkable Evergreen® company founded by Hendrick Meijer and his son Fred Meijer 90 years ago. If the Meijer family wasn’t so humble, many more would know about it beyond the states in which it operates and in which Hendrick and Fred introduced the one-shop-stop superstore concept in 1962.

The purpose of Meijer is “Enriching Lives in the Communities We Serve.” Last week at Tugboat Institute® @Meijer, Tugboat Institute members were able to see how this Purpose comes to life. CEO Rick Keyes and his outstanding executive team welcomed us to Grand Rapids and inspired us to keep believing in the power of the Evergreen company to grow from modest beginnings and make a staggeringly positive impact on its employees, customers, suppliers, and communities over decades. We were treated to three inspiring and interesting days of learning, connection, and celebration.

In 1934, Dutch immigrant Hendrick Meijer opened the first Meijer grocery store as a way to utilize a building he owned for his barbershop. He passed leadership to his son Fred, who started in the business at the age of 10, and who grew the business into one of the largest and most influential companies in the country.

Rick Keyes is the CEO of Meijer and works with the 3rd generation of Meijer stewards, who serve on the board and remain committed to Meijer’s values and growth. Rick started working at the company 34 years ago as a pharmacist in a store in Columbus, OH, and he quickly fell in love with the complex, energetic, and fast-paced model of the superstore. He moved rapidly into leadership, first in the pharmacy division, and then store management, at the age of 24. He served the company in many leadership roles over the years and was named CEO in 2017.

Under Rick’s leadership, which is characterized by humility, commitment to excellence and the founding values, and a profound desire to perpetuate Meijer’s positive impact in its communities, the company has continued to grow and thrive. Among other notable accomplishments as CEO, Rick has moved the company from a pattern of growth in fits and starts to a more regular cadence of growth, through which they aim to open 5-7 new stores per year, while refreshing every store once a decade.

As is our custom when Tugboat peers gather, we began our week with a celebration. Reconnecting with old friends and to discovering new ones always sets the stage for an energetic and inspiring week. We spent the next few days hearing from Rick, his executive team, Hank Meijer, and Mark Meijer at the impressive Fred Meijer Corporate Office in Grand Rapids. They covered topics ranging from the history of the company, the role of the family in the company today, the many ways Meijer takes care of its team, new innovations in the works in marketing and store experience design, supplier inclusion, pragmatic innovation, and more. We were all struck by the collective generosity and trust that characterizes Tugboat membership as Rick, his team, and the Meijer brothers candidly offered a deep look into the structures and processes that drive their impressive company, as well as the challenges they have faced over the years. Then we had the opportunity to visit one of Meijer’s superstores and see for ourselves how deeply aligned and cohesive the whole team – from executive leadership to store directors to cashiers – is across the organization. The level of excellence, care, and positivity that Rick and his team presented are abundantly evident in every aspect of the stores themselves.

In the evenings, we spent time celebrating in downtown Grand Rapids, and we also had the opportunity to visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, which stands as the embodiment of the Meijer family’s deep care for and commitment to their community. Fred Meijer had been collecting and warehousing sculptures and when the idea of creating a botanical garden was raised by a local non-profit, they took the opportunity to create something unique for their Grand Rapids community. In addition to beautiful greenhouses attached to the main building which hosts a museum on the site, the 158-acre botanical gardens are home to one of the world’s most important collections of outdoor sculptures, including pieces from Fred and Lena’s personal collection, pieces on loan from other collections, and pieces commissioned for the gardens themselves.

Longtime company and family leader Fred Meijer often repeated his aim to “leave the world in a little better shape than when I entered it.” After our week together in Grand Rapids, we can say with confidence that Fred would be astounded by the extent to which his vision is being fulfilled today. Rick, Meijer family leaders, and the entire Meijer team stand as exemplars of the extent to which an Evergreen company can, if it persists and stay focused on its Purpose and the other Evergreen 7Ps® principles, make a dent in the universe.

Howard Behar Two Jims video shot

Two Jims

Howard Behar joined Starbucks as President of North America in the very early days of the company. He learned quickly that as a leader, CEO Howard Schultz truly cared for the company’s people, from its employees to its customers.

In this Tugboat Institute® talk, Howard shares the stories of two men named Jim, a Starbucks customer and an employee. The stories illustrate what “caring like you mean it” looks like, and how far Howard Schultz was willing to go for his people.

Watch and be inspired to care like you mean it.

Steven Burger_Family Governance

Building a Structure for Family Governance in Advance of a Generational Shift

I am the third-generation leader of Burger Specialty Foods, with origins going back over 95 years. I wrote an article for Tugboat Institute®’s Evergreen Journal in 2019, where I shared initiatives that our Family Council had undertaken since it was established in the early 1990’s. Our renewed effort to strengthen family/owner governance structures is based on the understanding that, in a multi-generational family business with an ever-expanding family like ours, policies and guidelines need to be carefully thought through and established – not once, but periodically in order to keep them relevant over time. At the time, my objectives were to preserve family harmony, provide a meaningful way for future family members who did not work in the business to become involved, and ensure that a structure was in place that would be effective and efficient in governing all areas of family involvement. Now, four years later, as I plan to pass the CEO torch in a little over a year, my objectives remain the same, but our focus has shifted.

For background, in 2019 the Family Council launched the Family Board consisting of six non-working family members representing each major family branch because the Family Council, representing all direct descendants, their spouses, and children over the age of 14 (totaling 45 people at last count), had gotten too big to be an effective decision-making body. The Family Board has accomplished a lot. It serves as a great forum to inform and educate. They updated our family entry guidelines, are currently working on family exit guidelines, and will be working on a Family Purpose Statement with the help of Peter Boumgarden, a professor at the WashU Olin School of Business. They also organize and set the agenda for the annual Family Council meeting, our biggest, collective family celebration each year. In the future, the Family Board may assemble a Family Constitution to keep track of our governing documents.

Today, Burger Specialty Foods is owned by 18 G2 and G3 family members. The second generation are all retired and most are in their 80’s while many in the third generation, like me, are approaching retirement age. Six members of the fourth generation out of 18 are working in the business. We are blessed with a family that is burgeoning and thriving, so we need to continue planning for all facets of management and owner transition. My successor has been named, and I feel great about that, but owner transition is also critical, and we need to develop a plan.

Determining the rules for G3 ownership eligibility was a lengthy, and quite frankly, grueling family negotiation in the late 1980’s, but we hammered out an agreement, lived by it, and benefitted from decades of tranquility as a result. Now we need to make sure the next owner transition can prove the test of time. It’s a different dynamic today because the size of the family has grown exponentially, which has changed our perspective on some of the guidelines we established for previous generations, such as allowing married-ins to own stock. In order to minimize owner complexity, at least to some extent, the Stockholders voted to limit ownership to the lineal descendants of the first generation beginning in the fourth generation.

In addition, the Stockholders established an Owner Council, composed of six G3 owners, one from each family branch, to grapple with how to transition voting control past the third generation. Our Stock Restriction Agreement allows non-voting shares, representing 80% of the issued stock, to transfer unobstructed to the lineal descendants of the owner. The agreement stipulates that the Company has the right to purchase the remaining 20% of voting shares any time they are offered. The Owner Council mandate is to develop a plan for the transfer of voting control to the next generation and report back to the Stockholders. Should working family retain 100% control? Should the non-working group have the option to own a minority block of voting shares? If so, how much? This is a work-in-process.

I am fortunate that the Management Team is very capable of running the business and that has allowed me to focus on building rigor around our Board of Directors, Family Board, and our newly formed Owner Council. It’s best to develop policies proactively rather than waiting until you have a problem to solve “with a name on it.” It’s important to make sure you get the right decision-makers in the right room, to borrow from Josh Baron’s Four-Room Model.

I’ve heard that family governance in a multi-generational family business is the last of the major governance structures to emerge. That may be true, but as we continue the shift from G3 to G4 and beyond, we recognize that no matter when you start the process, your governance structures and the policies and guidelines they create will need to be revisited and revised at least every generation to make sure it still works for the present and future family, not the one you see in the rear-view mirror. The value in creating and codifying a Family Purpose Statement, as well as in clarifying policies and guidelines, serves as a road map for the future and will help ensure that the spirit and wishes of the family shape the decisions made by the owners, board, and management team.