The Client: A steadily growing regional logistics company with a retiring founder/CEO.

The Challenge: Ampersand’s challenge was to understand what made the business successful, identify what was needed to propel the business forward, and assess the internal bench strength for future leadership.

Our FindingsAmpersand’s Succession Planning process began with a thorough assessment of the organization. It was critical they fill existing talent gaps and create a development and retention strategy. With lofty revenue goals ahead, leadership had to change its focus from day-to-day operations, sales, and “firefighting” to a bigger picture, scalable vision. We thoughtfully managed the complex dynamics of a family-run business and a skeptical founder/CEO to facilitate tough conversations and make succession recommendations.

Our Contributions:

  • Keeping growth strategy top of mind and part of the conversation.
  • Recognizing that the internal heir apparent was not only a bad fit as the future CEO, but also ill-fitted in his current position.
  • Expanding the responsibilities of a few high-performers to recognize individual contributors with legacy and industry knowledge. And accounting for and augmenting their people management skills when determining their roles so as not to weaken future teams.
  • Celebrating what is, as it was the best way for the team to see what could be. Rewarding key talent (even if they weren’t eligible for promotion), helping appeal to team members’ loyalty and satisfaction, and enabling buy-in with family members.
  • Supporting the creation of a Board of Directors to assist in setting strategy.
  • Educating the leadership around a decision-making process.

The Outcomes: Through a new organizational structure, forward-looking role specifications, individual action plans, and alignment meetings, Ampersand ensured that executive-level talent was engaged in intentional leadership development to scale as succession planning unfolded. In each recommendation, we took into account the company’s propensity for rejecting solutions that might constrain flexibility. The company’s highly entrepreneurial spirit meant that a deft touch was required to execute change. The roadmap laid out by Ampersand provided tools to strategize the future and prepare for the leadership transition.

Ampersand was able to help this family legacy business let go of what wasn’t relevant anymore and hold on to what made them who they are. With our experience and sensitivity in founder-led family businesses, we successfully guided a group fearful of external intervention to build trust and partner with people outside of the lineage, paving the way for growth. As of this writing, the organization is well down the path of scaling for more aggressive growth, with improvement on both the top and bottom line(s).

 

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