Reply To: After integrating a family business, should the former owner remain or not?


Erik Cornelius

I’ve had this work both ways. In one situation, the former owner was rolled off fairly quickly, both because of personality clashes and because of his radically different views of how the organization needed to be run. In another situation, the former owner was kept throughout the lifespan of the acquisition, and his contributions and subject matter expertise were critical to the acquisition performing at the level it did. Questions to consider when making this evaluation:

* What, if any, knowledge does the owner have that nobody else in the organization has? How much do you lose of the acquisition’s value by allowing it to walk out the door?

* What is the perception of the owner by the rest of the target entity? Will letting the owner go be perceived as new management wanting to get rid of existing talent, or will it be welcomed as eliminating someone who hasn’t been contributing?

* If you decide that the owner must go, what’s your plan to replace, and how will it be messaged? (Much of that will be influenced by the answers to the preceding questions!)

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