Who Will Take Over When Pop Retires?

Who Will Take Over When Pop Retires?

by Kate Beem
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

This article is reprinted by permission from StartupJournal.com.

It took a quadruple bypass for Jay Rains to get serious about handing over family-owned Rains Electrical Sales to his 36-year-old son.

The firm — an electrical-equipment wholesaler in the Kansas City suburb of Shawnee, Kan., for electrical-equipment manufacturers — has been tightly controlled by the 65-year-old father for years. Wes Rains, his son, concentrated on his work as a salesman in his 10 years at the firm, which has eight employees and has $15 million in sales. He didn’t demand, nor was he encouraged, to learn mundane necessities such as payroll or income-tax withholding or legal issues. That left him, he says, unprepared to run the firm should something happen to his father.

“I don’t even know what everybody makes,” Wes Rains says. “There’s just so much paperwork and legalese.”

His father’s successful surgery in December forced both men to confront the thicket of emotional and financial issues involved in succession in a family business. But even now, the elder Mr. Rains isn’t handing things over right away. They’re just beginning a planned four-year transition, after which Mr. Rains says he’ll pull back and concentrate solely on schmoozing customers, leaving his son as the boss. More…

Family Focus: The Mennel Milling Company

Family Focus:

The Mennel Milling Company

AFamily Focus: The Mennel Milling Company   n interview with the current president of Mennel Milling, Donald L. Mennel and his father the Retired Board Chairman addressing small family business issues such as, succession, competition and family roles.

Since its establishment by bankers in 1886 and through its development, The Mennel Milling Company has overcome typical family business challenges. Succession, competition, and family roles have all played a part in the company’s growth and success.Problems between banking families provided the opportunity for the Mennel family to gain control.Also typical in family businesses, the first job in the company for Donald M. Mennel (D.M.), retired Board Chairman, was emptying coal cars.As his education progressed, he was able to carry feed bags and use the broom in the mill,Due to other family business issues, D.M.’s reign as head of the company really began in 1958.

The Mennel Milling Company is currently the tenth largest flour milling company in the country with nearly $100 million in sales.There are four mills within the operation, located in Fostoria, Ohio; Dowagiac, Michigan; Roanoke, Virginia; and Mt. Olive, Illinois.The business and the Mennel family continue to tackle typical family business challenges. Donald L. Mennel (D.L.), the eldest of Don’s three sons, took over as president of the company when his father retired at age 65 to enter law school–graduating three years later from Ohio Northern University.Another son, John W. Mennel, Executive Vice President, is in the sales end of the business. More…