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Expert Strategies for Drama-Free Family Business Transitions

by | May 15, 2024 | Floral Industry News | 0 comments

Ian Prosser, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, and his daughter, Zoë Gallina, AAF, of Botanica Design Studio in Tampa, Florida, used a mediator to help them transfer ownership of the company to Gallina.

When Zoë Gallina, AAF, began preparing to take over the luxury wedding and event design company her father founded in 1989, the process got very emotional very quickly. 

“There is so much emotion involved, especially when there is family involved,” says Gallina, who worked alongside her father, Ian Prosser, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, before taking over the Tampa-based Botanica Design Studio. 

She credits consultant Kristy Chenell for successfully mediating the transition.  

“She asked questions that we weren’t asking each other and really forced us to have those hard conversations,” says Gallina, who talks in more detail about the transition in the March/April issue of Floral Management magazine

Chenell will lead the education session, “Passing the Torch Without Burning Bridges: Navigating Emotions for Family Business Succession,” at SAF Miami 2024, the Society of American Florists’ 139th annual convention, Aug. 6-9 in Miami. In addition to 20 education sessions that address key challenges and growth opportunities for floral businesses, event also features a sold-out Supplier Expo, the Outstanding Varieties Competition, and the 55th Sylvia Cup Design Competition, as well as an optional tour of Miami’s floral importing scene and a leading events company, Petal Productions. 

Whether your business (and family) is going through a succession transition now or in 20 years, Chenell provides guidance that all family businesses can benefit from, such as how to navigate emotional complexities and generational differences, differentiate professional and personal interactions, facilitate effective communication, and set positive boundaries. 

Without good practices for managing emotions, business transitions can get messy and go south, Chenell says. And all too often, that’s what happens because many people are afraid to confront their feelings and those of others.  

“What’s interesting is that emotions are scary for a lot of people, and they don’t want to touch on that,” Chenell says. “But we also want to make sure that everyone knows a family is an emotional unit, that there is an attachment there.” 

Chenell will pull from research to provide insights on emotional bonds, discuss the role of empathy in bridging generational gaps, and provide guidance on identifying and addressing the root cause of conflicts that arise during transitions. 

One of her best pieces of advice for floral professionals working in their family business: communicate expectations. She cautions against setting boundaries, which can send a negative message, and instead, setting expectations. “It’s really more about, ‘This is what I’m willing to do,’” she says, “rather than ‘I am not going to do this.’” 

Click here to register for SAF Miami 2024 and see the full schedule of events. 

For more resources on succession planning, check out this package of resources in SAF’s Floral Education Hub.   

Amanda Jedlinsky is the senior director of content and communications for the Society of American Florists. 

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