Preparing to Pass the Baton at Two Florida Glass Companies

A number of times this year on glassblog, I have discussed the generational aspect of the glass industry. And as generation after generation comes on board, glass industry businesses are tasked with successfully passing the baton and transitioning the company to a new generation of owners. 

Glass Magazine's Exit Planning & Succession series covered the financial and business details of many types of business exits (see the features in the Jan/Feb, April, May, June, July and August issues), along with company profiles from industry companies with exit and succession experience. While we have concluded our series in the magazine, stories on navigating the exit and succession process from all types of industry companies continue to come in. I recently spoke with two glass business owners out of Florida who are preparing to transition management to the next generation. 

The first was Shower Doors & More co-owner Page Giacin, who runs the first generation shower door fabrication company with her husband Larry in south Florida. When they first started the company, Page answered phones and took orders while their son Tyler played in a corral made of shower doors. Now he is pursuing a degree in business and working at Shower Doors & More on school breaks. The Giacins plan to pass the business along to Tyler within five years.

"Tyler knows how to do grunt work, whatever needs to be done. We want him to get experience and then apply it at the business," says Giacin. "We have always had a very grassroots process with him because to run this business you have to know how to do it all. [A transition] has to be a longer process in a family business, and he has to earn it. He'll take care of it better."

The next business owner I spoke with runs a family-owned contract glazing company in Florida. "[The company] was started in 1992 out of our house," said the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. "It was us in a truck doing whatever we could to eat. We had no savings, a house and car payment and two adolescent children that we had no idea how we were going to get through college. We took on any job with a commercial focus and even did board ups in the middle of the night. When we started no one would give us a job over $3,000. We now employ 40 people and are embarking on an expansion."

The company owner began training their young son 10 years ago, when they helped him open his own business. "Together, we started a hurricane protection company in 2004," the owner said. "He learned to bid, sell and install. He continued to run [the business] until 2009 when we gave him 5 percent of [the glazing firm] with the plan for him to learn our business from top to bottom. We wanted to be sure it was something our son loved to do and wanted to take on as an owner in the future."

The son is poised to take over the company within five to ten years.  

Bethany Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine. If you have an exit or succession planning story to share, write her at bstough@glass.org. 

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