Succession plan preserves family control at Sheetz stores

Preparing an estate plan can be complicated when a family or closely held business is involved. Any disruption in passing along control of business assets and decisions to heirs could have a significant effect on the business itself. Business succession planning is thus a big part of robust estate planning, ensuring that the business continues to operate smoothly through desired change.

Succession planning doesn't have to wait for the death or incapacitation of the business owner. Indeed, many would argue that it should be done well ahead of such an occurrence. That seems to be the advice that was taken by leaders of a family-owned convenience store chain out of Pennsylvania. Sheetz Inc. is a collection of 430 convenience stores in about six states, reporting annual revenue of $6.3 billion. Recently the company announced its succession intentions to become effective in October 2013.

According to the statement, one member of the family, currently the executive vice president of finance and store development, will move into the president and CEO slot while another family member will take over as chairman. The current chairman of the company will become chairman of the Sheetz Family Council and assume a seat on the company's board of directors. In this way, the family will continue to have a major hand in all company operations.

What works in Pennsylvania can also work for Florida business owners. And the size of the company doesn't matter. By planning a business succession early, the estate owner can lay out a vision for growth and sustainability while making it known precisely what leaders should be in place to see the vision become real.

Source: Pittsburgh Business Times, "Sheetz announces succession plan," Paul J. Gough, Nov. 2, 2012

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