Countryside Matters 2014 - page 50-51

Countryside
Matters
48
Countryside
Matters
49
RURAL FAMILY BUSINESS
RURAL FAMILY BUSINESS
The idea is tohelp all generations of the family get together and talk openly
about the future, andwhat theywant from the business. This is not an easy
thing todo.Oneof the thingswe learnedout inSwitzerland, at the IMDFamily
Business Center, was that evenmassivemulti-national family businesses face
thesesame issues–ofparentsfinding ithardto letgo,ofclashesofpersonalities
and problems caused by differences in people’s abilities and inclinations. This
mightmeanthatitwouldbebetterforsomefamilymemberstoshareownership
ofthebusinessbutnotactuallybe involved inrunning it.
Theadvisors, who received trainingat IMD, will beoffering their clients a free
familybusinesshealthcheck, lookingatwhetherthebusinesshasgot important
successionplans inplace. Iftheythenwanttocommissionprofessionalservices
to, forexample,drawupawillorasuccessionplan, then theseserviceshave to
bepaid for.There ispotential, though, forthemtogetvoucherstoaccesssome
ofthisforfree, thoughaschemethatDevonCountyCouncil isrunning.
I think thevalueof theFamilyBusinessGrowthProgramme is that the family
areencouraged tohammerout their issuesby thepresenceof theadvisor. It is
helpful tohave thisoutsiderperspectiveof someonewhocomes inand,while
being reallyawareof the sensitivities involved,maybeable to say things that
familymembersmightnotbeabletosaythemselves.
Family members do need to go into these meetings aware that there are
someverydifficultconversations tohave, suchaspeopleairingconcernsas to
whether there is fair treatment between siblings. But unless they have these
conversations, thingsdon’tget resolveduntil theprincipals in thebusinessdie,
and thenyouare intoa totalnightmare.Withoutdoubt itharms thebusiness if
everyone justputstheirheads inthesand.
As faras I’maware,whatwearedoing inDevonandSomerset isauniquepilot
project in theUK, but inothercountries, certainly in theStates, inCanadaand
inNewZealand, they are very aware of these issues and are ahead of us in
providingsupportservices.So lotsofothercountriesaredoing it,and it isabout
timewecaughtup.
Thebeginningof
WastenageFarmsLtdcan
betracedbacktoHarry
Wastenagewhobegan
farmingwithhisuncle
inGloucestershire inthe1950s.
HiswifeAudreyalsocamefrom
afarmingfamilyand in1966the
coupletookonafarmtenancyfrom
ClintonDevonEstates,beatingoff
65otherapplicantsfora139-acre
mixedenterprisenearBudleigh
Salterton inEastDevon.Over20
yearstheygrewtheirdairybusiness
from just10milkingcowstoaherd
of100andalsopioneeredoutdoor
pigs-somethingthatwasunheardof
atthattime inDevon.
Bytheearly1990s,thenext
generationofWastenagefarmers-
sonPeteranddaughterLucy-were
readyandeagertobecome involved
withthefarm,havingbothgraduated
atSealeHayneAgriculturalCollege.
Althoughtheirparentswere
reachingretirementage, itwasclear
thatthehomefarmbusinessneeded
toexpand if itwastopotentially
supportthree individualhouseholds.
WhilePeterfocusedonthedairy
cows,arableandorganicvegetable
enterprisesacrossapprox1000
acres,hissisterLucyestablished
agoatdairy,expandinghermilking
herdfrom400goatstomilking
1200goatstoday.
Inaddition,PeterandhiswifeDi
havedevelopedaseparatebusiness
milking900cowsandproducing
organicfieldvegetableswhichwill
alloweitherorbothoftheirtwosons
toreturntothebusinessata later
stage. It isveryearlydaysforHenry
andJack,whoat12and11yearsold
areregularlyoutenjoyingthefarm
andgetting involved inallaspectsof
farmlife.Theyarefrequentvisitors
tootherfarmingbusinesseswhen
discussiongroupsmeetandthey
havesetuptheirownpumpkin
patch,minienterprisegrowing,
harvestingandsellingpumpkins.
DiWastenageexplains;“Interms
ofthefuturewethink it isvital for
theboystoworkawayfromthe
business, live life,developnewskills
andthenreturn iftheysowish.So
evenatthisearlystage it isvery
importantto includethem inour
businessplanning,communicating
anddiscussingtheopportunities
thatexist.Thenhopefully ifthat
timecomeswhentheywant
toreturn,therewillbenotonly
continuitytothebusiness,butmost
importantlytheaspirationsofboth
generationswillbemet,andasa
resultthebusinesswillbenefitfrom
thestrengththiswillprovide.”
WastenageFarms
CASE
STUDY
IMDBusinessSchoolcampus,
Lausanne,Switzerland
FarmersPeter
Wastenageandhis
sisterLucywhowork
togetheronthe family
farm inEastDevon
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