Starting a family business can be difficult and rewarding, but passing that company on to the next generation can be a real struggle.
In fact, only 30 percent survive into the second generation, and just 12 percent will make it into the third generation.
A Sioux Falls company has now passed the baton to family members four times.
What A-Ox Welding Supply in Sioux Falls does can be mind-boggling.
It’s one of the largest, most complete distributors of industrial gas and welding supply in the upper Midwest.
“We supply gases for people to make fire engines and people to have food. Every day there’s something with a gas in it that you need to have,” Linda Elliott said.
“We do medical gases, manufacturing gases, and laser gases,” Terran Bergdale said.
Just as impressive? The family-owned business is now in its fourth generation.
“I care very much about the image our company has because not only does it represent our company, but also our family,” Terran said.
Growing up, most of the Elliot siblings say they never envisioned working for the family company, but each of them has returned to Sioux Falls and is in charge of a different division.
Tisha focuses on purchasing.
Trenton runs IT.
Tiffany is in charge of Human Resources and Office Administration.
Terran is a chemical engineer who started a specialty gas laboratory.
“We do not cross paths. We aren’t each other’s bosses. We all have our own thing to be responsible for,” Tiffany Anderson said.
One thing all of the siblings do have in common–type A personalities.
“It can be a little over-passionate every once in a while,” Tiffany said.
How are they able to make the family business work? Mother Linda Elliott says they put family first.
“If you get mad at somebody, that’s fine, but don’t stay mad forever. We’ve had that in the family past with his family or my family. We didn’t want that anymore,” Linda said.
The Elliotts have also joined Prairie Family Business Association.
“What we encourage families to do is to take the time to have family meetings and have the conversation. If you communicate about it, you tend to have better success.” Prairie Family Business Association Executive Director Stephanie Larscheid said.
The Elliotts have also learned to separate work meetings from family time.
“I think that’s really driven us to be better at communicating with each other and being able to say what we want and not get hurt feelings.” Tiffany said.
“Growing up we were close, and now we are even closer,” Terran said.
A close family that seems to have the right mixture to pass the baton to the fifth generation.
“We sure hope so. We sure hope so,” Terran said.
Prairie Family Business Association is holding its 25th Annual Conference this Thursday and Friday.
While the event is sold out, you can hear from one of the speakers, the president of TABASCO Brand Pepper Sauce, Thursday night on Your Money Matters.