DCN ARCHIVES

March 16, 2005

CCA CONFERENCE COVERAGE

Passing the torch

CCA delegates learn about succession planning

CANCUN, Mexico

Regina contractor Wayne Morsky, who began working part-time in his family’s heavy construction business at the age of 13, is passionate about the subject of families in business.

President of the Regina chapter of The Canadian Association of Family Enterprise (CAFE), Morsky recently made a presentation on a subject near and dear to his heart — succession planning.

Wayne Morsky

“It’s not only about business,” he told delegates attending the Canadian Construction Association’s (CCA) annual conference in Cancun. “It’s about passing the torch from one generation to the next.”

Morsky started working full-time for The Morsky Group of Companies when he was 17. The company was founded by his father, a Ukrainian immigrant, “who had the vision of starting a business that would support his family for many years to come.”

Now a partner in the company, Morsky shared his experiences of being a second-generation family business member “with the third generation knocking on the door” in a session entitled “Fair vs. Equal.”

As part of the program, contractors watched a video dealing with the fallout that occurred after the sudden death of the founder of a family-owned manufacturing company.

The founder’s widow grappled with the issue of how to be fair to her four children, only one of whom worked in the business. CCA delegates broke into small groups and brainstormed ideas on what should be done.

“There are no right answers,” said Morsky, who sits on the national board of CAFE, whose mission is to promote the understanding and well-being of the family in business.

CAFE was a not-for-profit national organization founded in 1983. It has 15 chapters across the country, representing some 1,000 family businesses.

Statistics indicate that 70 per cent of family businesses do not survive the transition to a second generation while 90 per cent do not make it to a third generation.

However, a Sun Life Financial survey of CAFE members noted that 60 per cent of its member firms were being operated by the second generation or higher.

“CAFE is a powerful resource for families wanting to overcome the challenges and beat the odds,” Morsky said. “It offers an outsider’s perspective and an insider’s understanding of family business.”

Morsky came up with the idea for the presentation during a conversation with retiring CCA chair Shirley Westeinde.

“We began to realize how many other construction companies were family businesses,” Morsky said.

He has since given the presentation to about 12 different groups.

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