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No silos

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Business: Take Care Private Duty Home Health Care; Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Generations: Sue Wise, founder, owner and executive administrator, mother; Courtney Wise Snyder, Take Care Advisor executive director, daughter; and Erika Wise Borland, marketing communications manager, daughter.

Succession Plan: The family transition plan at Take Care Home Health Care, though not yet fully defined, has been a big help in managing the firm's fast growth.

For example, the company, a local leader in home-based elderly care services, now has a seven-person leadership team that meets twice a month. “Our communication is better,” says Sue Wise. “We want little issues to remain little issues.”

The process of creating a plan has also taught Sue Wise the value of management diversity and cross training at the senior level. “Part of a good succession plan is you can't be a silo in your own area,” says Wise. “You need to learn all aspects of the business.”

Wise, with a nursing degree and an M.B.A., founded the business in 1995. She followed her passion, in home health care, and the company grew quickly, in lockstep with the population boom in Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota counties. The firm now has 580 full-time and part-time employees and more than $17 million in annual sales.

Courtney Wise Snyder, 32, joined the company in 2008, and Erika Wise Borland, 30, was hired the following year. A third sister, Whitney Wise Verdoni, isn't involved in the business. “We didn't walk right in as managers,” says Courtney Wise. “Our positions have evolved since we have been here.”

The Take Care succession plan has likewise evolved. One key step, says Sue Wise, is the firm recently hired Tampa-based business consultant Denise Federer to help with both management and transition issues. (Federer, of Federer Performance Management Group, also works with the Observer Media Group and writes a column for the Business Observer.)

Another plus is Sue Wise has a personal background in family businesses: She grew up in a family agriculture business in Michigan, and one of her siblings married into a family business.

Sue Wise was nonetheless nervous when her daughters, who had moved far away from Florida, one to Boston, one to California, came back and started working at Take Care. “I was very apprehensive about it,” she says, “but I have loved every minute.”

She has also grown more comfortable with the idea that her children will be prepared to take over the business someday — not that she thinks that day is coming soon. For one, Sue Wise, 58, has no intention of retiring just yet. And members of the younger generation want to continue to grow into their leadership roles.

“Nothing is black and white,” says Erika Wise Borland, “about what it will be like in 10 years.”



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