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Cover story by Becca Anderson

emotions while discussing difficult subjects like death, money and other relatives. My parents fear not having enough money for retirement; I fear I will owe too much and not be able to pay it all.” However, it’s all in the family. Working with strangers would be completely different. Marie-Ève is focusing on marketing, building the company image, and exterior and interior renovations. “We’re doing it together. They were too busy working to take time for these things.”

ADVICE TO OTHERS “Take time to understand what each decision means. Com- pare different options (stock transfers, payment options, etc.). Get professional help,” said Marie-Ève. Luc and Josée added, “Believe in the continuity of the business. Don’t take decisions only for immediate profit. See it as a legacy.”

“It is essential to respect each other and care about each other

if you are transferring within the family,” Marie-Ève said. “The family bond needs to remain after the talks and decisions. Holi- day gatherings will still happen!”

“Believe in the continuity of the business. Don’t take decisions only for immediate profit. See it as a legacy.”

Busy Bee Cleaners

Omer Tessier purchased a newly opened but failing dry cleaning business in the mid-1970s. Son Larry opened a wholesale leather and suede cleaner next door. In 1982, Omer convinced him to move to Busy Bee permanently. “He asked me to supervise his business while he was vacationing, and his staff came to rely on me as a resource. As I became more knowledgeable and confi- dent in my skills, he presented me with his retirement-transfer plan,” said Larry. “My father’s plan was to see if I could survive running my

own business before he actually invited me to join his organ- ization. This was a good way to bring me in, as I had already declined to join the family business more than once. Starting my own business and not having to answer to him allowed me the freedom to achieve on my own. Once I proved I had what it takes to operate a business, we were both more comfortable joining forces,” he said.

Three generations of Tessiers, (l-r) Eric, Omer and Larry.

Automated Laundry Systems (l-r) Frank Guido, parts manager Corine Elkaim, project coordinator Martin Viau , Stephanie Guido and Thérèse Guido.

Negotiating between father and son can be diffi- cult. “Owners almost always value their business different- ly than buyers,” Larry said. “The equalizing factor for me was Bank of Dad financing. I paid a premium price for an ongoing business, but could make interest-free payments. That made up for the parts of the agreement that I was less thrilled with.

“Dad was a product of the Great Depression, and want- ed to keep costs as low as possible, never paying any- one to do anything he could do himself. My mindset was to learn all the positions in the plant, and then turn them over to others while I ran the business.” Larry still spends time on the production floor, using the equipment for his own garments. “It allows me to discover maintenance issues before an employee reports that the equipment is no longer functioning.”

Now Larry is working with son Eric toward an eventual third generation transfer. “I really enjoy the process of gar- ment care and the challenge of entrepreneurship,” said Eric. “Purchasing the business would be a great fit for me personally.” Larry’s retire- ment is not due for another five to ten years, so they have lots of opportunity to plan the transfer.

“The biggest thing for me has been cross train- ing so I’m prepared to help out when someone is sick, or needs additional train- ing,” said Eric. “I have been saving and working toward building equity.” Eric and his parents have a meeting each year, do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, and state their intentions for the com-

ing year. “Nothing is off the table,” said Eric.


“Everyone in the family has to be very pleased with the deal, especially those not part of the family business,” said Larry. “Do your homework, don’t rush it, and communicate to prevent future issues.” Eric concurs. “Along with communication comes respect, empathy and a willingness to do what is required to achieve your goal. We’re a team here, and without every member’s contribution, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

“While fathers and sons working together can be a rec- ipe for disaster, it can also be a great way to build relation- ships,” said Larry. “Each of us bring qualities and skills that the other may not have, and that’s where success is created. Though my father criticized me sometimes, ultimately I had to run the business in a style that reflects who I am. The same applies to my son, should he decide to purchase the business from me.”


Laundry Systems/ Systèmes de Buanderie

Automatiques Another family story involves Frank and Thérèse Guido and daughter Stephanie. Located in Laval, Quebec, the com- pany opened in 1992 with the philosophy of selling the best equipment and providing the very best support. The com- pany is the exclusive distribu- tor of Wascomat and Elec- trolux Professional Laundry equipment in Quebec and the Maritimes.


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