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How Do They Do It?

September 9, 2015, 1

Photo courtesy of USDA NRCSLegacyConnection

Kevin Spafford, CFP®

One Ontario Family’s Joint Path to Farm Succession” by Maggie Van Camp is loaded with good advice, communication hints, and planning tidbits to encourage succession planning. The story of McGregor's Produce and the proprietary family is probably not unlike yours.

The McGregors had a successful multigenerational farm business. Their kids grew up and wanted to work in the family operation. They got married and thought their spouses should be included. As parents and business owners, they’re interested in growing the operation while maintaining their financial security… What would you do?

The McGregors engaged in a process to grow the operation forward and plan for succession. From the article, we can highlight some reminders to help you in the pursuit of long-term success. Most comments are self-explanatory so, without too much editorializing:  

  • “It is important for the next generation to get an education and work away from home for a while before coming back to the farm.” 
  • “The three generations identified three objectives.” Focusing on common goals is the way to ensure a strong operation and constrain self-interest.
  • “They expanded the business and added [crops]”… to make room for a next generation of aspiring farmers.
  • Successors provide “incentives for expansion and forward planning.” The capabilities of interested family members lead to expanding opportunities.
  • “The three of us can do more by working together than if we each worked alone.”
  • “The emphasis is on mutual respect. ‘The boys are quite capable of making decisions.’”
  • In case you’re wondering, this family says, “Formal family business meetings include spouses.”
  • “Although they don’t always have the same ideas, they always are able to openly discuss each idea and agree on a decision in the end.”
  • “…formal meetings [aren’t] about keeping peace, [they are] about sourcing new ideas and tapping into resources.”
  • “Spouses need to be a part of the business team, especially on the philosophical decisions.”

When it comes to succession, we can learn from the experiences of others. What have you done about planning for succession? 


Constructive Conversations: These seven simple questions are designed to promote conversation and encourage the family to explore the succession planning process.  Using the questions to structure a discussion will help family business owners to define their succession intent.  (eLegacyConnect tool available for public access - with no login required - through January 27, 2016.) 

Subscribe to LegacyConnection, our free weekly eNewsletter, for planning tips, tools, and more.

Note: We also invite you to follow Legacy by Design's company page on LinkedIn, highlighting a new succession-related topic each month.

Have questions specific to your family?  We’re always happy to schedule a complimentary phone consultation to discuss your family’s succession objectives, review potential next steps, and determine how we can help.

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