Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 116 of 139

Sara Kay is the editorial and education content associate for the Specialty Food Association. How do you handle disagreements within your family-owned and -operated business? Sandi Ford, president & CEO, Ford's Foods I love, love, love working with my family—husband, two sons, daughter-in-law, mother, brother-in-law, nephew, and three grandkids. When there's a disagreement, we get everyone involved together, listen to all the facts, and settle it immediately. We keep it in the family. Doug Renfro, president, Renfro Foods My two cousins and I have followed the example set down by our fathers over the past few decades: If they couldn't agree on a major decision, then they didn't move forward. Our fathers have a sister with a minority amount of vot- ing stock who does not work in the business and they very intentionally avoided ever using her as a "swing vote." They knew that such a harsh and drastic move would forever change, and damage, the family business dynamics. Similarly, my two cousins and I have avoided having two of us outvote the third person. If we can't all three agree on a major decision, then we table it. Note that we also don't micromanage each other; I'm only referring to truly major, strategic, and/or expensive decisions here. My cousin in production doesn't need my permission to change the production staffing routine, nor do I need his permission to change salt vendors. If, howev- er, we're talking about buying a new six-figure machine, or building a seven-figure warehouse, we must all three agree. Henry Wainer, CEO, Sid Wainer & Sons We own a family business that was created in 1914 and I have to say that working with people in my family, espe- cially the children, has been—and continues to be—one of the most exciting times of my life. We share our goals and values. That being said, we're not supposed to agree on everything. Truthfully, how many children agree with everything their parents say? The goal is to understand and ultimately decide what's best for the business and our employees. You need to set your sights high, work hard, and live your dreams. Q: Samuel Edwards III, president, Edwards Virginia Smokehouse We have been very lucky. The fact that we've survived four generations in business together indicates our ability to talk out our disagreements in a respectful manner. When the youngest generation in the family business is committed to continuity and proves this by making good decisions, the older generation would be foolish to not listen to what they have to say—and let them prove out their decisions. But, ultimately, there's a hierarchy to the process, which means I have the final say. Our direct-to-consumer web presence and social media is an example. When my son was first out of col- lege, it was 30 percent/70 percent decision making, with me having the 70 percent. Now, it's 90 percent him and 10 percent me. He's proven himself. He understands how driven we are on return on investment. Once he got more familiar with dealing with social media, web, vendors, etc., he started to sound a lot more like me. Which makes me feel more comfortable with his decision-making processes. My son-in-law has been with us for about a year-and-a- half, but he's starting to understand how we think when it comes to business. So, if he continues to grow we'll become more comfortable with him taking the reins in the department that he's part of. One of the advantages of a multi-generational business is you learn to think not just one or five years out, you're thinking 20 or 30 years out. I also believe having a combination of men and women in the family business keeps the tone civil and keeps us all receptive to constructive discussions. The ladies in our family are great mediators. "My two cousins and I have avoided having two of us outvote the third person. If we can't all three agree on a major decision, then we table it." 114 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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