Jason McLaughlan is an experienced entrepreneur and the President and owner of the Utah based Western Fence, Inc. The company was established in 1948 and prided itself in being the oldest fencing company in the state of Utah. Western Fence makes an assortment of fencing products from wood, aluminum, wrought iron, among other materials. Jason, a fourth generation McLaughlan, took over of the reigns of the family business in September 2003. Before the takeover, the business was struggling with bad debts and lack of inventory. Jason cleared the accrued bad debts and established a snow removal division in 2004 to shore up sales.
The company went on to open a fully-furnished tool store in 2006. In April 2007, Jason became the sole owner of Western Chain Link Company after buying off the stake belonging to a business partner. It took Jason McLaughlan hard work and sacrifice to revitalize the family business and return it to profitability. He attributes it self-belief and skills in construction management and remodeling. Looking back in time, Jason is optimistic that Western Fence will continue to grow on the back of strong sales and an aggressive expansion plan that’s being implemented.
The family business is big business in the US and across the world. According to an infographic presented by Stetson University Today magazine, about 85% of all family businesses operating in the US are held in private hands. These businesses employ 57% of the entire workforce and contribute a staggering 63% to the national GDP. Globally, 20% of family businesses own over 5 businesses. Family businesses with long histories have been able to retain the distinction for one good reason.
The current owners have chosen to retain ownership instead of selling the business or closing shop. Studies show the strength of family business relies heavily on strong values and cohesion. The values that form the basis of interaction between family members and business every so often informs decision making and strategic planning. Family businesses are often forced to embrace, steady long term growth to ensure long term viability rather than hasty, short term projections.
Survival techniques every family business needs to embrace
Besides family values, cohesion, and good fortunes, it takes much more to run a thriving family business for generations. According to the Entrepreneur, the tips for long term business success include:
Ensure continued investment
Reinvestment in a business can help strengthen business operations and build a more stable outlook. Family businesses can use this strategy to target new customers, add new lines of product, and open new business locations, among other growth strategies.
Diversify business operations
A comprehensive portfolio diversification strategy can help businesses overcome several risks, including a slump in business and economic downturn in case the market retreats. Family businesses that choose this strategy can also inoculate themselves from disruptive technologies and cut-throat competition. Some of the most plausible ways to diversify business include:
- Developing new business divisions
- Targeting new geographical markets
- Creating new products and services
- Investing in new technology and skills
Encouraging innovative ideas
Successful family businesses often shoulder the aspirations of family members, employees, the host communities, and even nations. Through innovation, a family business can find ingenious ways to craft creative products and services to help grow market share and ensure long term viability.
One of the ethoses of running a successful family business is respecting workers and their input since they are responsible for keeping the business afloat. Respect can go a long way to breed loyalty and enhance productivity. Employers can express respect in many ways, including acknowledging the achievements of workers and creating a pleasant working environment.
Family businesses looking to stay relevant and survive competition in today’s competitive marketplace must learn to embrace change. One of the strategies is keeping tabs with emerging business cycles and trends. Through careful analysis, family businesses can tap into growth areas and ensure future profitability.
Most of the businesses operating in the US and across the world are privately held family businesses. The success of a family business depends on many things, including family cohesion and shared values. A family business must embrace innovation, support their staff, and reinvest in the business to stay competitive. Jason McLaughlan is a strong advocate for family businesses. He was able to transform a fledgling family business into a thriving, profitable organization. The company now stands as the oldest and one of the most successful fencing companies in Utah.