Succession planning – the process of determining who will own and/or run a business following any one of multiple scenarios, such as a sudden death, early retirement or even a planned departure – should be top of mind for distributors, according to numerous executives and consultants in Positioning for the Future.
"Companies that don’t prepare the next generation of leaders will not have the people they need properly trained and ready to move their enterprises forward," says Bob Mucciarone, COO, F.W. Webb Co., Bedford, MA. "Investing in your people on an ongoing basis is a long-term growth strategy."
A good place to begin is by empowering a company's human resources department to identify, recruit and develop the talent needed for both immediate needs and long-term growth, according to John Salveson of Salveson Stetson Group, which helps companies search for talent inside or outside their ranks. Salveson says the HR role has traditionally been administrative and transactional, but shifting that model to one that is transformational can propel a company's succession efforts.
"(HR professionals) are really good at finding and attracting talent. They're really good at developing executives and organizational plans. They understand how the business works. They should be the CEO's right-hand person on these issues," Salveson says. "My experience is, many wholesale distributors haven't made the transition in HR from the traditional transactional position to the much more strategic transformational role. That's a simple thing they can do."
Read more about success planning – which starts with creating a vision and forming a strategy – in Positioning for the Future.