It’s National Family Business Day: Here are five tips from one that’s lasted over 60 years

Families can be difficult to manage at the best of times, so imagine going into business with them.

Today marks National Family Business Day and a report published yesterday by KPMG and Family Business Australia found a family’s shared values, strategic planning and committed workforce made them more resilient to market conditions.

However, the report also found some major threats to the long-term success of a business, including a failure to adequately succession plan, maintaining family control and balancing family and business issues.

Kennards Hire was founded in 1948 by Walter Kennard, who was a merchant selling hardware in Bathurst at the time.

The business began when a customer came in asking to borrow a cement mixer because he didn’t want to have to buy one and Kennard realised there was an opportunity to run an equipment hiring business.

Now, Kennards Hire rents a variety of equipment to professionals, has 142 stores across Australia and New Zealand, and has survived multiple economic downturns.

The business is now in the hands of Walter’s son Andrew Kennard, with his four children currently preparing to be the next generation of business leaders.

SmartCompany spoke to Angus Kennard, the son of Andrew Kennard and the head of Kennards Hire’s assets and procurement division, about being part of a family business and the best ways to navigate the complex environment.

Family values

Establishing clear family values has a positive impact upon the operation of the business.

Kennard discovered this firsthand 10 years ago after his father joined Family Business Australia while at a conference in Tasmania.

“From this experience we learnt a lot of things about running the business and we went on to establish our family values,” he says.

“It took about two years to agree what they were, and working out how to word them in the right way was a challenge, but we did that as a family and it helped us bond.”

Clear governance

Kennard says it’s also important to have a written document to help enact family governance structures.

“We’ve devised a family charter, which is like a constitution, and I think we’re up to version eight now,” he says.

“It’s really clear and it changes each year or so and sets out how you get into the business, how you get out of the business and it allows us to be guided.”

Kennard says the charter came about naturally after the values were established.

“The charter is basically all about working in the business and how that works. However, you do have real-life scenarios at times to deal with and it’s hard to make a rule for everything, so you have to be adaptable,” he says.

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