Retirement, Succession, The Next Generation

Baby Boomer Generation
are at a point in the industry where most baby boomers have retired, are retiring or are thinking about retiring.

Seasonal Retirement (Florida/Arizona)
Taking off several months in the winter has been an activity that many of the baby boomer generation, especially those in the snow belt and further north, have done for years. This has or can allow for the next generation to exercise the reins of leadership. At least that part of leadership that keeps the business pointed in the direction that Dad/Mom want. Decisions are made from Florida or Arizona instead of from the business.

Some more adventurous next generations will make some decisions without including their parents and just prepare for the blowback. This may be something less sensitive like cleaning out the warehouse shelves. Or it can be very sensitive like disciplining or termination of an employee. This falls under the heading of its better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

Retirement Means Many Things to Many People
Being “retired” but still working – the new succession plan. I describe this as where the next generation is making the majority of the decisions. The parents are still involved but are more in a backup role or have less day to day functions to do. The goal is to replace their remaining functions over time.

This allows the next generation to direct the business and still have the availability of their parents to bounce ideas off of or to perform functions they don’t want to do or have time to do.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, they address the situation where there are two generations in charge. Generally, the next generation is less risk adverse to making changes or taking on new challenges. This can be both in management and in operations of the business. The baby boomer generation is most comfortable with a top down management style, whereas the next generation is going to be more comfortable with a collaborative management style.

The baby boomer generation is comfortable with operations as they are. The next generation is looking to try some new things and invest in new opportunities. Merging these two styles is a challenge for both. Having a third party evaluate the pros and cons of changing or not changing direction is very valuable in these situations

100% Off the Job
The transition or buy out has taken place and the baby boomers are rarely on property and are now in Florida/Arizona more often. They are just looking for the checks to clear. They are more interested in what the grandchildren are doing than what the business is doing.

There Are Two Other Realities I Want to Address:

  • Experience and wisdom – big difference between knowledge/skills and wisdom. There is no substitute for experience in business as well as in life. The baby boomer generation that has run a business for 30 years must have done something right and made some great decisions. The next generation just has not had enough experience with people and with business to always know what to do.
  • Mom in the middle – The wife of the baby boomer in many situations has been right beside her husband every day for all of those years that they have owned the business. What I have observed is that:
    • Desires her husband to work less, slow down and for them to have more time to be together.
    • Worries about their adult children making the decisions. She knows and cares about the business. Also realizes that their retirement and golden years depend on the ability of the adult children to run the business.
    • As the mother to the adult children she is concerned about the impact that running a business has on her children and their families. She understands and has lived through the stress, weariness and sleepless nights that a family business endures.

I’d love to hear from those of you who have gone through this or who are going through this.  Email your stories to me at

   Robert Counts       Chad Counts         Johnny Logel



Robert Counts,; 512-693-6915

Chad Counts,; 512-963-4626