Members Share Journeys with Succession Planning
At the heart of small communities are local businesses. While larger corporations and chain stores often bring jobs and opportunity, small businesses provide goods and services that can be nimble to the changing environment of the local economy. Many of these businesses are family-owned and have lasted for generations. Lack of a succession plan becomes a threat to many of our businesses’ survival.
It is encouraging that we are seeing examples of succession planning that will ensure that goods, services, and jobs will be retained.
Monika Goss grew up in the family business, Goss Gas, founded by her great grandfather 87 years ago. Like her father, she spent time around the business and eventually found herself helping answer the phone, filling up tanks, and filing. She attended Case Western, where she earned her degree in biomedical engineering, a field she worked in for five years. Monika always knew she would return to the family business, so when her husband was ready to begin his residency in Pittsburgh, they moved to a central location, and she came to work as the Purchasing Manager of Goss Gas. Now the Assistant General Manager, Monika works alongside the General Manager, Jeff Rivers, and her father and the company’s owner, Dave Goss, overseeing the day-to-day operations, which include Provanta and Renovex.
Monika explains that they have been intentional in succession planning, working with consultants, attorneys, and financial planners, leaving nothing to chance. This allows Dave time away from the business, during a transition that will culminate in Monika’s ownership.
Monika is quick to affirm that she and her father are like minded and have found working together very rewarding. She acknowledges the challenges, mostly related to generational differences and embracing technology.
While she does not anticipate drastic changes to the business as the succession plan proceeds, she is excited about the potential for growth, using more technology, and moving to a paperless business. As a young woman in the field, she finds support from peer and business groups, naming “Women in Propane” as one.
Dave shares that the advantage of their succession plan is that the business will be operated by someone who he unequivocally trusts, knowing Monika will have the best intentions for the business. The challenge of a family succession plan is that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to completely walk away. While he hopes to have less “worry,” with Monika’s best interest in mind, he anticipates always being connected to the business.
Dr. Leon Kulinski started his dental practice in Oil City 41 years ago. Leon and his wife Kathy raised their family, while immersing themselves in the community. Their son Matt attended Grove City College with the intention to be an engineer, later changing majors to become a chiropractor. Now he works alongside his dad as a partner in his dental practice.
When asked “What made you decide to become a dentist?,” Matt explains watching the life and practice his father built and realizing this was an opportunity for him to return home and pursue a similar lifestyle. He first came closer to home, working for Primary Health Network in Clarion and later with the Salvation Army Dental Clinic in Oil City.
A visit with Leon and Matt makes it obvious that the two get along well and have very similar work ethic, committed to being available for their patients.
That is much of what inspired Matt to want to work with his dad. Matt felt that he could provide Leon with the chance to be out of the office and to plan toward an eventual retirement. Leon assures us that is at least a few years away, but with the trust that the two have in each other, the practice will be ready when the time comes.
Matt echoes the sentiment of a younger generation in his desire to continue introducing technology to the office, something Leon supports but is reluctant to do himself.
Kulinski Dental is now located in Reno in a newly renovated office that accommodates both dentists, a new lab and room for more technology.
While Matt and Leon are just getting started in succession planning, they are pleased to know that the practice has a bright future, likely to last decades.
This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s September 2021 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.