Speakers: Planning eases transition of family businesses
By Jodi Weigand, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Jobe Funeral Home in…
(Oct 29, 2009) —
Jobe Funeral Home in Monroeville is 114 years old, the product of cooperation and
careful planning between generations.
Establishing a succession plan like the one it has can be key to whether family businesses
continue to thrive after changing hands, experts say. But many times that's not a
"There are a lot of times when it's survival on a day-to-day basis," said attorney
Bill Otto, with Sebring and Associates in Monroeville. "Sometimes, you run into it
and you say, 'How can people who are so intelligent be so unprepared?' But it happens
so often that you stop being surprised."
Otto was among speakers at a recent Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce seminar
where owners of family businesses learned the importance of establishing a succession
plan and ensuring the next generation is capable of managing things.
"Some people know there are things they have to do but aren't sure what they are,"
said Greg Brunnhuber, who owns a human resources consulting firm in Monroeville.
Family businesses account for about 25 percent of the Monroeville chamber's membership,
said executive director Chad Amond. There are at least 2,000 in Pittsburgh, according
to the University of Pittsburgh's Small Business Development Center. The Small Business
Administration says an estimated 90 percent of U.S. businesses are family-owned or
Two of the main points in succession planning are tax avoidance and ownership transfer,
but those things won't ensure continued success, said Joseph Astrachan, executive
director of the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.
Family businesses, he said, should hold family meetings at least once a year, do
continuous strategic planning, and have a board of directors composed of people who
feel free to speak their minds.
"The days of waiting until the day they die to inherit it are over," said James Jobe,
35, of Monroeville, who co-owns Jobe Funeral Home with his parents.
"In my family there was a succession plan in place. Has that drastically changed
from 1944 when my great-great-grandfather transferred it to my grandfather? Absolutely."
Sometimes children have difficulty deciding whether to enter the family business.
Lisa Petrocelli-Tanner, 29, had little intention of working for her dad when she
left for college to earn her accounting degree. She was going to work for another
firm, she said.
"I had an internship in college and I called my dad and said, 'I don't think I like
this,'" she said. So she went to work with the rest of her family on a trial basis.
"It was the best thing I ever did," she said.
The close-knit Petrocelli family is well-versed in its plan for how and when Michael,
24, and Lisa will take over Petrocelli & Company, an accounting and tax services
firm in Monroeville.
Their parents, Marcy and Tony Petrocelli, transfer a percentage of the business over
to them every year or two. It's important that the kids know the business before
they're the sole owners, said Tony Petrocelli.
"In 10 years we should be able to handle everything without (our dad)," Michael Petrocelli
Having both children join the accounting practice changed the future of the business,
Tony Petrocelli said, so succession planning became even more important as the business
began to grow.
In 2004, Petrocelli and Company moved from a small office in Pitcairn to a larger
building on Monroeville Boulevard, where nine people, including family members, work.
That includes Lisa Petrocelli-Tanner's husband, Kevin. The couple's young daughter
could be the next addition to the business.
"As soon as my daughter was born," she said, "I thought, 'It would be odd if she
went into something else.'"
Link To Articlehttp://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_650319.html
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