R-e-s-p-e-c-t spells success for NH family run businesses
"It was very easy," Dennis Poirier, 54, said Friday. "None of us are greedy people. We basically had someone come in and do an appraisal of the business and what the property was worth, and we purchased it from our dad."
Very few family feuds involve more money than the one playing out now within the Demoulas family, owners of the Market Basket supermarket chain that operates 71 New England stores and employs 25,000 people. The ouster of CEO Arthur T. Demoulas by his cousin has led to a workers' revolt and a widespread customer boycott.
Dennis Poirier offered some simple advice to the Demoulas clan.
Sometimes, families need outside help. Enter the University of New Hampshire Center for Family Business in Durham.
The center, she said, brings in experts who assist multi-generation families in transferring ownership and leadership from one generation to another.
Sometimes, those struggles end up in court.
In 1992, the parents gave 48 percent of the business's voting stock to each son, leaving 2 percent to each parent, according to court papers.
A 2006 court ruling said Townsend Thorndike accused his brother of "freezing him out" from the company.
The state's highest court, however, didn't rule on the case's merits, citing time limits for filing the court action.
At the height of its popularity in the mid-1990s, Annalee's was doing $15 million in annual sales and employed 300 people.
The company was sold in 2008.
Neil Niman, UNH's economics department chair, said family-owned businesses often mix personal animosity with business decisions.
"That's the problem with a family business: it's run by people with interests other than economic," Niman said. "You're not making sound business decisions but making decisions because someone's got to win and someone's got to lose."
"There are slights or insults that happened years ago that people don't seem to get over," Niman said.
"They remember and relive it, and it creates anger and resentment that goes on for years and years, which in privately owned family business, oftentimes you see these kind of disputes leading to the end of the company."
"Some of my companies do that for a transition period while the next generation is growing up, getting experienced enough, deciding whether they want to be in the business," she said.
"There's nothing worse than working with family," Shirley Durette of Manchester said after shopping at the Manchester store last week.