Joining the Family Business: One Year In

The KCFE and MBA Student Family Enterprise Club (FEC) welcomed Paul Darley'03 and his daughter, Audrey, for an Executive in Residence Lunch and Learn, titled "Joining the Family Business: One Year In".

Paul is the third generation President and CEO of his family's 107-year-old business, W.S. Darley &Co, a major manufacturer of fire engines and other equipment sold globally. Audrey joined the business after earning her college degree and working four years in commercial banking. Reflecting back on the past 15 months together at the company, Audrey and Paul shared their thoughts on the entry process, what worked well, what could have worked better and what they wanted students considering similar paths within their family businesses to know.

One student shared, "The Darley's presentation was fantastic. With 13 family members in the business, their perspective on issues and pitfalls was very interesting. I especially liked Audrey's ideas for working with the older generations. She called them the 'NowGen' because they are the current leadership generation."

Her ideas included:

  • Help create the leadership transition
  • Take time to understand what is important to the senior generation
  • Identify the role you want
  • Express your desire to continue the business
  • Earn your way to the top
  • Share your vision of the business with others
  • Take advantage of educational opportunities
The presentation ended with a quote from the company founder that serves as a watchword for family members in both business and home:

"Today, say nothing that is not true, nothing that is not kind, nothing that is not useful, and nothing that is not necessary."