Family Business

A willing successor, a hesitant owner-founder


3 min




Watch the Huberts, owners of Hubert's Family Outfitters, a second generation, small family business in the retail sector in New Hampshire, USA, discuss dilemmas around helping the owner-founder's transition to a new phase of life while supporting the success of the next family business leader. In a family business, it is common for a founder to show resistance when the time comes to pass the business to the next generation.




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Guenter Hubert
Being a total novice, I knew nothing, and I just did as I was asked, did the inventory, you know, marking product, helping customers occasionally. Then I graduated, went to college. It worked out working part-time in the business, working on my college studies. I learned as I went along. I really enjoyed the family business, and I was a mathematics major in college, but I ended up taking business classes.

Hannelore Hubert
Guenter was really the one that was the most interested of our five children. He drove every day for four years. He came to the store and helped us, and his homework he did at night. You know, whatever he had to do.

Guenter Hubert
When I graduated, I became a full-time employee. And it gave my parents the freedom during the winter months to go ... View More on vacation. The two of them could leave and knew that I would take care of business. I really enjoyed the opportunity, you know. It was something I wanted to do. And my dad was kind of, he was not so sure I was able to handle it, and he told me so. He said, “Look, I hope you do well, as well as I did, but I am not so sure, you know.”

Kathy Hubert
My father-in-law, he did not think Guenter would be successful. He told a lot of people he did not think he would be successful. I think part of it is that was expression that he did not want to get out.

Tom Hubert
My dad had built up the business, and it was his life. It had become such a big part of his life that he just was not ready or able to let go.

Guenter Hubert
My dad was getting into his early sixties, and we started noticing he was really having some issues. Not major, but you know, my mom knew that it was time, time to retire. And we found out later on my dad was actually suffering the early signs of Alzheimer's. And that really made it very difficult for him at times to run the business with my mom because he would forget from one moment to the next some things he had to do. And you know, we look back now, oh wow! The signs were so, so obvious, but never having, you know, had any experience with Alzheimer's . . .

Kathy Hubert
So, it was not my father-in-law that was totally talking, it was his illness, fear of retiring, being a business person all his life.

Guenter Hubert
It was tough for my dad, I think, to let go of the helm so to speak. My mom said, “You know, Papa we are retiring. Give Guenter the store.” And Kathy and I, we bought the business, and, you know, in essence the rest is history.