How To Survive Succession Planning And Resolve Conflicts In Your Greenhouse Operation

Barry Sturdivant
Barry Sturdivant

If you work in agriculture, you most likely work with family-owned businesses. This is especially true within the greenhouse industry. I’m fortunate to work for a company that specializes in financing and supporting such businesses.

Family-owned businesses often have a level of commitment and support that helps during lean times. This is important for a company exposed to seasonality and events that are sometimes beyond management’s control. Business owners and management are constantly looking for solutions to the unique issues faced by these small but complex businesses. Specifically, how these issues affect the transition from one generation to the next. There are many family enterprise success stories, cases of harmony, health and longevity. Yet it’s no secret that family businesses can struggle with governance, leadership transitions and even survival.

According to the Family Business Institute, only 30 percent of family businesses last into the second generation, 12 percent remain viable into a third and only 3 percent operate into the fourth generation or beyond. Still, family-owned or family-controlled businesses play a key role in the global economy. They account for an estimated 80 percent of companies worldwide and are the largest source of long-term employment in most countries. In the U.S., family-owned businesses employ 60 percent of workers and create 78 percent of new jobs.

Good Communication Is Essential To Clarify Family Roles
When discussing corporate issues with family business owners and management, the two most important issues identified are also the most difficult to achieve: resolving conflicts among family members who are in the business and formulating a succession plan.

In my observation, there are three areas of potential conflict in a family-owned business: family member relationships, ownership and management. Clarity about each family member’s role within the business is critical, particularly when management is comprised of both family members and external leaders. When sharing and reconciling these roles among family members, keep in mind the following:
• It takes work, not luck. Successful families seek and get help and direction.
• Your perspective on any topic or issue at any given point in time depends on which role you play (e.g., dad, founder, owner, manager, employee).
• Communication is essential and should include formal structure. Successful business-owning families address communication issues with structured processes that promote, facilitate and ensure ongoing sharing of information, ideas, opinions, attitudes and feelings.
• Planning is essential to continuity. Planning in family business is more complex than in any other kind of business. There are multiple types of plans to be considered, including business strategy, leadership and ownership succession, personal financial and family continuity.

Some solutions are simple. For example, one technique when passing the torch is to make it an actual and symbolic shift by moving offices while staying in an advisory role. To provide role clarity when holding a son, daughter, sibling or cousin accountable, consider actually wearing multiple hats that say “Dad,” “Boss” and so on.

Other solutions are not so simple. For more complex situations, consider enlisting professional help. Resources are available, but they can be hard to find. Your banker or other financial service professional should be able to set you on the right path.

Wells Fargo hopes to offer a succession planning seminar this year at a tradeshow near you. Please inquire if you are interested.



Leave a Reply

More From Finance/Operations...
John Sorenson

March 15, 2018

Vestaron CEO John Sorenson Dies at Age 68

Sorenson, a long-time crop protection specialist in the horticulture industry, was a key figure in Vestaron’s launch of new and innovative biological products.

Read More

March 12, 2018

Eason Horticultural Resources Adds to its National Sales Team

Roger Kehoe joins the company as a Sales and Production Management Expert. He was most recently the Director of Young Plant Production at the Color Division of Costa Farms.

Read More

March 11, 2018

National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture Releases New Marketing Infographics

A new series of four #PlantsDoThat Inside infographics focuses on the multitude of ways indoor plants affect where we live, where we work, where we heal, and where we learn. The first two infographics are now available.

Read More
Latest Stories

January 31, 2018

Online Education Empowers Employees to Succeed

See how UF/IFAS online certificate courses helped employees at Costa Farms get ahead with their jobs.

Read More

January 25, 2018

Why It’s Critical to Understand Your Real Costs o…

It’s time to stop guessing and start calculating when it comes to finding out what your real cost of production is, and pricing products accordingly.\

Read More

January 23, 2018

Learn How the New Tax Law Will Affect Your Greenhouse B…

AmericanHort will co-host a free “Comprehending the New Tax Law: webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 31, with K-Coe Isom, a national tax consulting leader.

Read More

January 15, 2018

Missouri Greenhouse Grower John Tomasovic Dies

The patriarch of Tomasovic Greenhouses & Nursery, Inc. in Des Peres, MO, was a legend in the plant industry, and widely involved in many associations.

Read More

January 15, 2018

Perennials Icon Louis Stacy Dies

The founder of the former Stacy's Greenhouses in York, SC, passed away on Wednesday, January 10, 2018.

Read More
Charlie Hall Feature Image

January 9, 2018

AmericanHort Launches New Video Series on Profit Margin…

This week, AmericanHort is kicking off a four-part video series that offers perspectives on managing profit margins from AmericanHort’s Chief Economist, Dr. Charlie Hall.

Read More

January 9, 2018

What You Need to Know About the New Tax Bill

The United Fresh Produce Association, which represents the needs and interests of fruit and vegetable growers, recently updated its members on how the recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act might affect their businesses. Many of the insights provided by United Fresh also apply to greenhouse growers and nurseries.

Read More
Doug Cole, Owner of D.S. Cole Growers

January 4, 2018

D.S. Cole Growers Blazes Its Own Path to Growth

Known for its commitment to sustainability and innovation, this grower is one of the pioneering trailblazers changing the way horticulture does business.

Read More

December 31, 2017

Ag Exemption for New Trucking Regulation Still Under Re…

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s trucking electronic logging device mandate, which took effect on December 18, includes an Hours of Service exemption that may or may not apply to greenhouses and nurseries.

Read More
Tillandsia Air Plants (Plantiflor)

December 15, 2017

Bonsall Nursery Devastated By California Wildfire

Rainforest Flora lost its main greenhouses and outdoor growing property in the Lilac Fire in San Diego.

Read More

December 9, 2017

Southern California Wildfires Narrowly Miss Most Grower…

Here’s an update on horticulture businesses in the areas affected by the California wildfires.

Read More

December 5, 2017

Skagit Horticulture Builds New, Inclusive Business With…

By merging two large-scale producers, Skagit Gardens and Northwest Horticulture, the new company has realized its strengths through focused divisions that emphasize efficiency and success.

Read More

December 4, 2017

Raker-Roberta’s Young Plants Debuts as Roberta’s Finali…

On December 1, Eric Wallien of Roberta’s Inc. in Waldron, IN, officially purchased C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI. The new identity of the company is now Raker-Roberta’s Young Plants, according to a Dec. 1 letter to Raker’s customers, suppliers, and business partners from Vice President Susie Raker-Zimmerman. “There have been minimal changes in management and we will be providing the same products and services on which we have built our reputation in the industry,” Raker-Zimmerman said in the letter, which also announced the name change and new logo. The sale of C. Raker & Sons was announced in September . A series of events affecting Raker’s financial situation caused the need for the operation to find an alternate solution. Roberta’s had been a customer of Raker’s since 2011, and the fourth generation, family owned grower-retailer was a fan of Raker’s commitment to quality. The agreement to purchase C. […]

Read More

October 10, 2017

Sharpen Your Skills in Cost Management and Profitabilit…

The University of Florida is offering a new online course on costing and profitability. The course will take growers through the process of how to accurately evaluate cost of production, labor efficiency, pricing, and equipment investment decisions.

Read More
Willoway Nurseries Team

October 1, 2017

How Willoway Nurseries Gets Its Staff Engaged in The Co…

Willoway Nurseries in Avon, OH, is creating a culture with people who think, act, and feel like owners. Learn how its team is taking the business to the next level.

Read More

September 21, 2017

Horticulture Is All About Connections

The beauty of our industry is that we are more than willing to reach out and help those around us. What connections can you make today to help your business, and what can you offer to help another grower?

Read More
Worker taking cuttings at Vivero Internacional.

September 11, 2017

Vivero Internacional Elevates Clean Cuttings to New Hei…

One of the last independent cutting operations, this fast-growing company raises the standard for delivering clean, high-quality unrooted cuttings.

Read More
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

September 5, 2017

C. Raker & Sons Acquired By Roberta’s Unique Garden…

Ownership will change hands in December, and Raker will supply young plants for the 2018 season. Beyond that, leadership of the two operations say they are excited to move forward with a partnership that will continue to supply the industry, and gardeners, with top-quality plants.

Read More