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Finishing Well: The Final Step in Sustaining Your Legacy


Old Wood Fruitticher Grocery truck

At a coffee shop recently, I ran into two old acquaintances, brothers, from my industry. For over a century, their business, Wood Fruitticher Food Service, has been supplying food and restaurant products across the Southeast.


The brothers are believing entrepreneurs in the faith community, and have operated their business as a mission.


For business-as-mission entrepreneurs, spirituality happens when we implement God’s heart on earth through our businesses. This means, that rather than trying to subtract ourselves from the daily routines of business to be spiritual, we lead businesses with a purpose greater than merely making money.


“The simplest way to do business is to live your faith,” Dave Wood said to me.


THEY BEAT THE ODDS

In conversation, I learned that the brothers have defied the odds recently by transitioning their business into its fourth generation of family leadership and ownership.


This milestone puts Wood Fruitticher in an elite circle - a mere 30% of family businesses make it to the second generation, let alone the fourth. Their ability to “finish well” and sustain the company’s legacy for over 100 years offers invaluable lessons for entrepreneurs looking for significance and legacy.


At Cultivating Impact, we guide businesses through a proven 7-step process for succession planning. The final step, “Finish Well,” is arguably the most important for cementing an enduring legacy.


1. Confront your fears about succession planning

2. Establish your succession planning team

3. Define your impact

4. Define your niche

5. Develop leaders in your team

6. Pass the baton to your successor


FINISHING WELL

Step 7, Finishing well, involves fully transferring ownership and leadership authority, while remaining engaged as an advisor to preserve your legacy. I like to call it your victory lap!


You deserve your victory lap!


For the Woods and their family, finishing well involved a multi-year process of gradually stepping back from operations while their sons and sons-in-law took the reins.


The brothers confronted the need for a transition early on after previous generations faced untimely deaths and disruptive handoffs. In 1948 Dave Wood died in a car accident. In 1980 Bill Wood suffered a heart attack and passed.


Having learned from the untimely exit of previous leaders, the brothers worked to build the business into more than just a family endeavor by developing a strong team.


And now in the “finish well” phase, the retiring brothers remain engaged in mentorship roles even as they’ve fully handed over operational control. As Dave Wood III, the new Board Chair says, “We have the invaluable experience of the previous generation to help guide us.”


This deliberate, multi-year process allowed for a smooth succession - a stark contrast to past transitions that were reactive and unplanned. By finishing well, the Woods have positioned Wood Fruitticher to thrive and multiply its impact for generations to come.


LEGACY

For entrepreneurial leaders, there is no greater legacy than building a business that lives on and contributes to its community in perpetuity. But that requires a mindset shift from the outset - your eventual exit must be accepted and planned for methodically over years and decades.


Finishing well should be the goal from day one, not an afterthought. It means developing a mission that transcends any single leader or generation. It means proactively building a team capable of receiving the baton. And ultimately, it means being able to let go when the time comes, secure in the knowledge that your life’s work will continue changing lives.


The Woods and Wood Fruitticher have embodied this finish-well mentality. Their example proves that with the right foresight and succession planning, any entrepreneur can establish an enduring legacy that stands the test of time.


Like the Woods brothers, you deserve to finish well.


Harry T. Jones


P.S. You can have your own advisory board when you join a Succession Planning for Impact Mastermind. Email me harryt@cultivatingimpact.biz with “mastermind” in the subject line and join the waiting list for the next opportunity.


P.P.S. You can read more details about the Wood’s brothers, their business, and transition ​HERE.​

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