LancasterThriving_WinterSpring2017 - 19

Manners: We did not have any major challenges but
we underestimated the amount of time and effort that
was needed to put together the plan. Communication
was important to us and we were very intentional about
the timing and substance of communication with our
employees, clients and business partners.
Simpson: Identifying the next partner revolves around
the building of trust, and this takes time and patience. We
need to understand that there isn't a perfect employee
and hopeful employees need to understand that they are
being evaluated on many different levels.
4. Did the process result in any cultural changes?
Cargas: Employee ownership added another dimension
to employee engagement and the feeling that "this is my
company." Seventy percent of our employees are
now owners.

Manners: Six partners purchased the business on
December 1, 1999 and we joke that succession planning
began on December 2. In 2010 we became very
intentional about leadership and ownership succession.
It took us about three years to develop a solid plan. We
received a lot of assistance in developing the plan as
we spoke with our peers in our local groups and in our
industry and with our accounting and legal advisors.
3. What were your biggest challenges in the succession
planning process?
Cargas: On the leadership side, whatever you do
some people won't be happy with the decision. You
need to think about the company first and find roles
where everyone fits. On the ownership side, as I was
heading below 50% ownership and no longer looking
to be the "capital safety net," it took a long time for our
employee-owner board members to fully appreciate the
responsibility of managing capital.

Manners: The new leadership may change the culture
in time but we will always maintain the open and honest
aspects of our culture. This new team has used the
transition as an opportunity to ask our employees for
ideas for change and improvements.
5. How long did the succession process take and can
you comment on the quote, "Succession planning
is not an event, it is a process"?
Cargas: So far it has taken 18 years and it is still going.
It took a few years to build a solid plan and now we
review it each year and keep improving upon it.
Manners: It took several years for initial discussion
and development of our succession framework and
documents. We are over a year into our transition of
leadership and our ownership transition is still ahead of us
so it is a long process. It is not just the mechanics of going
through a checklist, it is important to maintain the trust
and confidence of your team.

LancasterChamber.com

19


http://www.LancasterChamber.com

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