Kevin Dougherty explains the dynamics of a family business to QSC members at the recent Power Meeting in Florida.

Transforming a business from “good to great,” working with family members in a business, recruiting and hiring people, succession planning, selling a business, retirement planning, personal finances - all were topics discussed at the Quality Service Contractors' latest Power Meeting held Feb. 23-25, St. Pete Beach, Fla., where retirement and la dolce vita may have crossed some members' minds.

Going “Good to Great” was the theme of Jon Seltzer's session, which took the themes from Jim Collins' groundbreaking study on what separates the great companies from the good ones and related it to the plumbing and heating industry. Selzer surveyed 50 QSC members and found six that were “great” - three under $1 million in sales, three with more than $1 million in sales.

All six used many of the same principles that Collins outlined in his book - Level 5 leadership, first who … then what, confronting the brutal facts of reality, the hedgehog concept.

Kevin Dougherty presented two sessions, one on the dynamics of a family business and the other on strategies for selling (or buying) a business. With a large percentage of the audience (and the contracting industry as a whole) involved in family businesses, it was a sometimes humorous, sometimes sobering discussion.

Family business failures, he said, occur when the transition goes to the next level, or generation. “It might be better to sell your business rather than put a family member in charge,” he noted. “Otherwise, your business may die a slow death.”

If a family member will succeed you in the business, Dougherty said, it is extremely important that he or she has the best education, because “the financials are the most important thing to know.”

Another highlight of the conference was Jordan Goodman's session on his “12 Commandments of Personal Finance.” He gave tips on finding “free” money, buying cars and homes, getting the best credit-card deal, setting up retirement plans, budgeting, the best ways to invest your money, buying insurance, etc.

Awards & Elections

QSC presented two first-time awards during the meeting - A.O. Smith Water Products was named 2005 Industry Partner of the Year, and member Tom Maniuszko of Day-Night Plumbing & Heating Co. (Richmond Hill, N.Y.) was named 2005 Contractor of the Year. The trustees also awarded Executive Director Charlie Wallace with the newly created Founders' Award.

QSC members elected Keith Bienvenu of Beinvenu Brothers (Metarie, La.) as their 2006 chairperson. 2005 QSC Chair Patty Frank of Milton Frank Plumbing Co. (Spring, Texas) was elected vice chair.

In addition, the group held a charity golf tournament just prior to the meeting and raised more than $20,000 for Challenge Air for Kids & Friends, which offers motivational, inspirational and life-changing experiences to physically challenged children and youth through aviation.

The next Power Meeting will be held July 20-22 in San Antonio.