Lee Watson started his equipment rental business, Kachina Rentals in 1974 in Sacramento, California. Lee has always prided himself on the fact that he has the largest rental fleet and the most competitive prices in the region. No one has a better rental business in the area.
Lee is now in his mid-70s and is still insistent on running the business like he always has. New competitors have sprung up in the area over the last 15 years and continue to erode Kachina’s market share. Lee unfortunately has his head in the sand and argues when anyone brings up the idea of eroding market share.
His 35-year-old son, Gary has been in the business for over 15 years and his daughter, Rosemary has been in the business over 10 years. Both Gary and Rosemary enjoy great relationships and reputation with the other leaders and staff in the business.
Gary and Rosemary have some innovative ideas on how to modernize the business and engage customers in new ways.
Lee wants no part of it. He tells them, “This will be yours someday and then you’ll have a chance to do it the way you want to do it.”
When we ask Lee when he thinks he will be done in the business he says, “I love this business and can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Gary, Rosemary and their spouses are incredibly frustrated with the whole situation. They feel stuck between being disloyal to Dad, the business, and the dedicated staff.
How would you handle the situation if you were advising this family?
What would you do if you were Gary and Rosemary? They both invested over 10 years in the business and see the potential opportunity, yet are struggling with whether or not they can remain healthy and happy waiting for something to happen to their father so they can have their chance to run the business.
What conversations would you try to have with Lee to help him better understand the impact you’ve had on the family and the future of the business?
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Pete Walsh is a demanding, courageous and playful Master Coach in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the founder of Peak Workout Business Coaching and the Family Business Performance Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.