What would you name as a chief benefit or blessing of being a FAMILY business? Perhaps a common vision, working with those you love, or family unity? What about the most challenging aspect? Is it the difficulty communicating, confusion about roles, unresolved conflict, or dealing with change?

At our March 10, 2015 Forum, the Hoober family of Hoober, Inc., an agriculture machinery dealership, shared their story. Our group of over 170 family business leaders enjoyed a glimpse into the joys and challenges of running a third generation (G3) company with operations in four states — PA, DE, MD, and VA.

The Hoober family has a long history and stellar reputation of exceptional customer service. Like most family businesses, moving to the third generation of management and ownership is incredibly complex. In the midst of this complexity and change, they found ways to be present, speak their truth, and be open to unexpected outcomes in both their family and their business. As a result, they inspired us with their courage, passion, and forgiveness. In addition to those qualities, they posses the ability to let go and a willingness to step up. Consequently, their story beautifully illustrates what we call our 5 Principles of Healthy Intergenerational Transitions.

A few highlights from the Forum:

Lauri Hoober Lefever (G3) shared about her spontaneous trip to her parents’ vacation home at 4 a.m. with a passionate plea to engage DVFBC in guiding their family through the transitions. (Principle #3: All Family Members Count)

Also, Scott Hoober (G3) displayed their plaque of three ropes made to symbolize the commitment of the partners. “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”. The partners meet together weekly to discuss issues, strengthen alignment, and practice whole-hearted leadership. Their employees see the resulting clarity, consistency, and accountability. (Principle #1: The Rising Generation Steps Up & Chooses)

Furthermore, Sallhoober inc family business advicey Hoober (G2) shared that she sometimes felt “out of the loop,” noting that transitions are possible in your head. Sometimes, though, the emotional “heart work” takes longer. (Principle #2 – The Senior Generation Prepares & Lets Go)

Also, click here for photos from the March 10 FORUM.

In my experience guiding business families over the past 25 years, the core work happens in the family. As a result, they come together for real conversations of truth telling and naming reality, exploring and creating a new future. Most of all, the family embraces mutual accountability.

At Delaware Valley Family Business Center, we exist to help business families communicate more effectively and develop as teams of aligned and competent Shareholders and Managers. For those of you who have worked with us, you understand how difficult this task can be. While we provide the path, the tools, and the expertise, families bring commitment, whole-heartedness, and empathy.

Looking Ahead

For our 2015 FORUM theme, we chose Developing Wholehearted Leaders in Family Businesses. Wholehearted leaders are fully present. They “show up” with both their heads (mental clarity) and hearts (emotional competency) for the common good.

Come to our April 23 Forum to hear another family’s story from unquestioned authority to shared voices and decision-making in “A Germanic Catholic Family’s Journey of Pain & Prosperity.”

Sally Derstine

Sally Derstine

Managing Partner, Senior Family Business Advisor

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