Making It Work in the Third Generation: The Tyler Equipment Company

Making It Work in the Third Generation:UMass
The Tyler Equipment Company

by Kitty Axelson-Berry

Is there some grand success–or catastrophe–that would be informative for readers as family business people?

Well, the big success is that we’re still here.My grandfather and grandmother started this in 1922, renting half a building at the end of Columbus Avenue, selling anything–tools, brushes, paint.They survived the Depression intact and went into construction, which was good during the wars and during the building of the highway system, which was for defense purposes. 

But it’s a cyclical business, very dependent on the economy, and in the late ’80s and early ’90s when a lot of banks failed, it was very difficult.In ’88 we were at an all-time high and in ’89 we had a free-fall.It was really the worst time, very traumatic.We had to cut way back on our employees.But we kicked and clawed and scratched and we’re still here.

What has the succession been at Tyler?

Let’s see if I can get it right.There was the grandfather and grandmother,and there’s my father, M. Brooke Tyler, Jr., and uncles Wallace Tyler, and Grant Tyler. Aunt Fern, who was not active in the business, upon my grandfather’s death, became one of the owners.Then there’s M. Brooke Tyler, III and me, Bill; and Grant Tyler, Jr. and Thomas. More…

Happy Families

Happy Families

by Michael Carp and Keren Ludski
Kez’s Kitchen

Our business started out as a paying hobby – we didn’t even know what the running costs were! But as Kez’s Kitchen quickly grew into a serious venture involving many more members of the family, we were determined not to let rifts or arguments over money or hiring and firing issues ruin our lives and get in the way of success. So we set up a Family Council and appointed an independent Chairman of the Board. We haven’t looked back. None of us initially had any skills to run a business and we would have “drowned” if we hadn’t made these decisions.

Michael was the logical choice as CEO with his business and legal background and Keren says there is no-one else she would rather trust in the job. Our mother wanted to scale back her involvement in the business and Keren was planning to have more children. Despite having founded the business, Keren didn’t want the day-to-day stresses of running the company. She was already feeling “torn” by the conflicting demands and family values have always been extremely important to us. So, while it was a difficult decision for her to let go of this “other baby,” the family unit always comes first. Keren is still very involved in the business as Director, Business Analysis and has a say in all decisions as a member of the Board. More…