To Take Over, or Not To Take Over a Family Owned Business

Nov 28, 2016

Aleda Feuerbach knows the garden center business; as it grew, she grew, literally. Her parents raised her in the green house, and when they were ready to retire, she took over the family business with help from her husband.

“You don’t count days, you don’t count hours, you just do it,” she says. “You gotta be dedicated to that because family business takes it out of ya. I love it, I’d do it again, but you’ve got to have that make up to make you successful.”

After a 60 year history, she’s made the decision to close up shop at Pleasant Valley Garden Center due to redevelopment in Iowa City.

David Hensley, executive director of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa, grew up in Atlantic in a family that owned a clothing store, which was a business spanning two generations. He says the decision to close a family business isn’t an easy one, but it’s a trend that’s growing more common in the state.

He says he didn’t consider taking over for his dad, which is common for children who grow up in family owned businesses.

“I think that in today’s world, you’re seeing more and more children who are going to college and are having more experiences than just what they saw when they were going up. There’s more opportunity to go out and pursue your passion,” Hensley says.

“When you’re a child growing up in a family business, you see everything. You see the good things, but you also see the challenges and how hard you have to work and sometimes think ‘Wow, I’d rather work for somebody else.’”

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Hensley and Feuerbach about what it’s like to own a small business, and how to plan to pass it on if you want to keep it in the family.

Also joining the conversation: Bob Kurtz, owner of Kurtz Hardware in Des Moines, which has been in his family for 150 years, and Melissa Freidhof, who manages Ross’s Restaurant in Bettendorf.