by Craig E. Aronoff, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and Principle of the Family Business Consulting Group
“I’m a minority shareholder in a family business,”the phone call began.”I’m hoping to start a national association of people in situations like mine.”
“We could learn more about our rights,”she continued.”We could organize and try to pass laws more favorable to minority shareholders.We might even organize a market for trading our shares.”
The caller wanted my help.”Why do I think your association is designed for dissident minority shareholders?”I asked.”What has upset you enough to want to organize?”
She told me that her parents had left her shares in the family business.She wanted to work there, but women were systematically excluded from involvement.She sought to be on the board.Her brothers vetoed the idea.Whenever she asked for information about her investment, she was denied.Efforts to gain some value from her parent’s gift through dividends were rebuffed.Her attempts to sell her shares to the business or to her brothers got no response. More…
Autotec Succeeds In Several Transitions
by Debbe Skutch
Sometimes one transition is not enough.Autotec has recently been through several.With succession to the next generation came changes in culture, focus of the company, family dynamics, family location, and management style.As founder, John Schuster has sold his company to his son-in-law, Thomas Ballay.The company, the family, and the changes they have made to successfullyenhance each other tell an inspiring story.
In 1971, John had a vision, much courage and just a little luck. He left his position with an engineering firm to act on his entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to design his own machines.He had only his mechanical engineering degree, two drawing boards, a partner, and no capital to speak of. The company now manufactures machinery, mainly in the packaging industry, for customers all over the country.
John:We became Autotec because the name Automated Technologies was not available.Our primary job was to design a machine related to the cassette industry. The design progressed very well but due to the large scope of the project and limited capital, the decision was made to pursue more conventional projects.We evolved into an engineeringservice and designed machinery to enhance automation. After time, I bought out my partner.Design was my forte and the jobs just kept on coming little by little. More…