Passing the Baton: The Right Order of Things
The late Larry Burkett wrote:
“If I had to identify the area of finance that is least understood, it would be inheritance. Not only do people wreck their lives by hoarding, but they also wreck the lives of their children and grandchildren with abundant inheritance.”
The prospect of passing on the business I started in 1988 has been on my mind for some time now. I believe my children would tell you I have been a pretty good provider through the years, even as I was more than a little involved in building a commercial printing company.
I have three great sons—Paul, Barton and Brandon Beyer. All of them are such individuals, I could only hope they would take a serious interest in carrying on the business, at some point, so I could enjoy other interests—time to travel with my wife Susan, more software development, and time to write at least one more book.
Five years ago, only one of my sons had been involved in the business at all.
Paul, the eldest of the “Beyer Boys” now has been in production more than 20 years at our company. He is very well-versed in virtually every phase of our print manufacturing operations—technical hands-on, one of the best pressman around, and a huge proponent of the systemization that drives our business. However, the economy had him thinking for a while, like many in our industry, that maybe he should go back to school and learn another trade.
At the time, my second son Barton was majoring in advertising at MTSU, thinking about launching out and making his way with a large ad firm somewhere. Three years ago, when we were seeking a new prepress manager, he took an interest in that aspect of the business and has turned out to be the best prepress manager we’ve ever had.
Barton willingly embraced our written systems of quality control, preventative maintenance and other control systems for the prepress department, that were in place when he took the position. He has given credit to our systematic approach many times, saying, “I would NOT have been as effective in so short a time without these systems!” Still, I felt sure the first big advertising agency offer would whisk him away from our business.
Five years ago, Brandon, the youngest and tallest of my boys, talked much about traveling to Japan and other parts of the world, after graduation. That was before he took a serious interest in the way we handle systems in this business of ours. He began sharing ideas for improving our systems, and finally came to work for our systems software company, Ebiz Products, to train new clients. Brandon has become a top-notch trainer for Ebiz and now enjoys working with many owners and managers who opt for systemization in their own operations.
I believe a good father trains up his children to live productively in the “real” world, and to take advantage of every opportunity to learn skills that will allow them to grow and support their own families at some point. I also believe in leaving children an inheritance that includes a legacy of love, faith and integrity. If my sons didn’t want to be in the printing business, then I’d hoped I had instilled that legacy in them to take into whatever vocations they might pursue.
Some weeks ago now, Paul and Barton came to me, separately and together, to discuss their interest in “stepping up” and taking the reins of the printing company. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me personally!
Paul is so skilled and ready to take the lead, technically and creatively, in the production aspects of the business—and Barton has more than shown his ability to manage the marketing and administrative areas. It’s more than I might have hoped for.
One of the best decisions I ever made for our company was hiring Paul’s wife—Jennifer—as head CSR and also as production administrator. Since 1994, she has shown consistent leadership in the implementation and application of our systems in all aspects of her work, aiming always at the highest possible quality and service. She supports her husband fully in this transition now.
So, later this year, I will happily pass the baton to the “Beyer Boys” (Jennifer, too), to carry on with growing our printing business that was started on a hope and prayer (literally!), nearly 25 years ago.
I believe we owe it to our children, the next generation, to help equip them to do the same for their children. To my mind, it’s the answer to much of what has been lacking in our country and our world in recent years.
Thinking about what Larry Burkett said years ago, I don’t believe in hoarding or in leaving children some kind of blank check—piles of unearned money to just squander on their lives. However, I do believe that leaving the legacy of a good name and the fruit or seeds of a productive life is a right inheritance for our children—the RIGHT order of things! A great system!
Did I mention? Great systems work!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.