Family matters

Credibility is hard to establish when
moving up the ranks of a company,
but it can be even harder for a family member being groomed for a future leadership role.

Blair Haas is dealing with that challenge
as he brings a fourth generation — his son,
Josiah, 26 — into Bud Industries Inc., a
manufacturer of electronic enclosures.
Haas says the biggest issue is making sure
the other workers know his son is qualified
for the job.

“We wanted to make sure he was well-qualified and would immediately gain the
respect of the team,” Haas says.

The first step was introducing Josiah into
the company as a teenager and having him
work summers at the company during high
school and college.

Although two of Josiah’s brother
embarked on different career paths and
another is still in college, all had the opportunity to work summers at the company.

“In Josiah’s case, he gained great credibility because, as a junior in high school, he
worked in our maintenance department,
which required him to start at 6 a.m.,” Haas
says. “Not a whole lot of 17-year-olds are
keen to be at work at 6 a.m.”

From there, he worked in sales and engineering, getting a taste of the different
aspects of the organization.

Part of the process of integrating the next
generation is assigning the person with key
responsibilities so they are calling the
shots and don’t get the sense they are
“Dad’s little boy” but are instead responsible for getting the job done, Haas says.
While Josiah was in college, Haas took him
to trade association meetings, letting him
coordinate the meeting room and making
sure the meetings started and finished on

“But he was also introduced to the people, and joining me on business dinners giving him a sense of the business and what it involves,” Haas says. “We want to make
sure he is well-trained to come into the
business. Part of that is to understand what it

the business is about as opposed to the
thing his father may come home at dinner
and complain about what went wrong
today. It’s real important to have a sense of
the challenges and pluses and minuses
before they mentally get on a career path.”

After college, it was important to Haas that
his son get experience outside of the company in a position similar to what he would
be doing at Bud. To gain that experience, he
took a job in a semi-related industry and
succeeded in making cold sales calls to get
customers to buy products.

“He was dialing for dollars,” Haas says. “It
gave him credibility because people understood that he wasn’t just getting a job
based on being out of school and we were
giving him a job.”

Haas says he learned a lot about how to
integrate his son into the business based
on mistakes his own father made when
grooming him for the company.

Haas said he worked at Bud in the summers but mainly stayed in the sales area,
and so lacked the experience that would
have given him a general knowledge of the
whole business.

“My goal was to make sure (my son) didn’t fumble,” Haas says. “He is gradually taking over various accounts. That’s how
we’ve been easing him in.”

Haas says the downside of entering a
family business is there is less eagerness by
the older generation to let go, but he hopes
he will know when to hand over the reins
to the next generation.

HOW TO REACH: Bud Industries Inc., (440) 946-3200 or