Family Business Quarterly
by Joseph F. Blum, CLU
Owners can be divided into one or another of two distinct groups as regards succession planning. One group absolutely refuses to recognize the need for succession planning. It just doesn’t see the need, period. When the attorney representing the DeBartolo family, one of the country’s most prominent developers of shopping malls, was interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article and was asked about his client’s attitude toward succession planning, the attorney was quoted as saying, “We introduced the topic of succession planning at a recent meeting and quickly learned that it was a subject never to be mentioned again.” Mr. DeBartolo was 78 years old at the time.
The second group, in sharp contrast, is attuned to the need for planning. Typical of this group is the chicken magnate Frank Purdue, who understood the value of advanced preparedness. In company TV ads, the elder Purdue refers to his son, who viewers soon learn has assumed control of the company, as “a project in the making for many years.”Purdue Senior obviously takes pride in having handed off the baton of his business to his son in a highly public way, based on having worked out a competent succession plan at an early stage. More…