Jobe Funeral Home in Monroeville is 114 years old, the product of cooperation and careful planning between generations.
Establishing a succession plan like the one it has can be key to whether family businesses continue to thrive after changing hands, experts say. But many times that's not a priority.
"There are a lot of times when it's survival on a day-to-day basis," said attorney Bill Otto, with Sebring and Associates in Monroeville. "Sometimes, you run into it and you say, 'How can people who are so intelligent be so unprepared?' But it happens so often that you stop being surprised."
Otto was among speakers at a recent Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce seminar where owners of family businesses learned the importance of establishing a succession plan and ensuring the next generation is capable of managing things.
"Some people know there are things they have to do but aren't sure what they are," said Greg Brunnhuber, who owns a human resources consulting firm in Monroeville.
Family businesses account for about 25 percent of the Monroeville chamber's membership, said executive director Chad Amond. There are at least 2,000 in Pittsburgh, according to the University of Pittsburgh's Small Business Development Center. The Small Business Administration says an estimated 90 percent of U.S. businesses are family-owned or controlled.
Two of the main points in succession planning are tax avoidance and ownership transfer, but those things won't ensure continued success, said Joseph Astrachan, executive director of the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.
Family businesses, he said, should hold family meetings at least once a year, do continuous strategic planning, and have a board of directors composed of people who feel free to speak their minds.
"The days of waiting until the day they die to inherit it …