Managing the Changing of the Guard

Features - Cover Story

January 8, 2021

©bnenin | AdobeStock

About one-third (32 percent) of PMPs said their companies had a formal transition plan, found the PCT-NPMA 2021 Workplace Survey. In follow-up interviews, PMPs said such plans involved selling the company or handing the reins to younger employees, who may or may not be family members.

Rose Pest Solutions is planning a leadership transition in the next five years. Russ Ives is 68; brother Jim Ives, president, is 64. The two have worked in the business for 40 years and side-by-side for more than 20. Three of their children currently work in the business.

“They comprise our cabinet both from the standpoint of responsibilities and also in terms of ownership,” said Ives of the fourth generation being groomed to lead.

Leadership transition also is a focus at Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions, where Mike and Gary Rottler, 61 and 58, have worked together since taking over the company from their father.

They’re now preparing younger people, including third- generation family members, to step into these roles. “It’s been a process. I feel like we’ve got some good tools in place to help us navigate this,” said Mike Rottler. His executive team is comprised equally of baby boomer, Gen X and millennial employees. “I’ve got some folks in some fairly senior roles that are going to be around long after I leave so I feel good about that,” he said.

It’s a challenge knowing when to get out of the way and when to help new leaders stepping into these roles, said Rottler, who hopes to follow his father’s lead in exiting the business. “He really would let us make our own mistakes and let us fix them. I’m hoping I can pull that off,” he said.

Forty-two percent of PMPs said their companies had a formal exit strategy for employees. In follow-up interviews, they said it was essential to have strong process manuals, statements of work and organizational structure to prevent knowledge from being lost when employees leave the company. Only 12 percent of PMPs said their companies had re-hired retired employees for part-time or advisory roles.