Archangel Protective Services, a full-service security company led by Chairman and CEO Ken Thomas, got its start in 2010 and is now in seven states and employs 275 people. He says part of the plan for his business is to pass it on so that it continues after he's left. To prepare for that, he says he'd looked at other companies, other family-owned businesses, to see how they've done it.
"One of the things I've come to realize is that successful organizations that lasts for multiple generations realize that just because your last name is the same as the founder does not necessarily make you CEO," Thomas says. "Just because your last name is the same as a founder doesn't mean that you get this plush office in the C-Suite and you get a chance to just kick back and go play golf."
In family-led organizations that grew themselves large enough, when it was time to insert people into management spots, they looked beyond just their family for that. They were looking for the best people for the role.
"What it comes to mean to me is then because your last name is Thomas that means that we want to have a place for you if you are fit for our company. But it doesn't mean you're going to be CEO," he says. "So, succession planning for me means I'm looking for the best person that I can find that will take our company to the next growth level to replace me when I'm ready to go into the chairman's role."
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Still, he's of the mind that the family will be owners of the organization and it will provide an opportunity for those who are a fit for the company. But also he's hoping that translates to someday that it could also help the family monetarily with some of their ventures.
"I don't aim to create trust fund babies," he says. "But I would like to create an opportunity for people go to college if they want to, help them with major purchases in their life, those kind of things. But nothing that you get rid of the need to go out there and work."
Thomas says, primarily, he hopes the business is a means for people to feel good about their lives.
"If we are successful in raising happy, healthy adults, as far as the next generations go, then they're going to want to go out there and go do their own thing," he says. "And if they want to do their thing and it's a part of Archangel, that's fantastic. If there is an heir who comes up who will be CEO material, that's awesome. But that person is going to be evaluated based on are they the best person who can take the organization and continue to grow it?"
Thomas spoke on the Smart Business Dealmakers Podcast about how the company got its start, the importance of getting help along the way, succession planning and the ways he's helping others get their entrepreneurial start. Hit play to hear the full interview.