Like Father, Like Daughter

Taking Charge

It's not easy taking over the family business, especially if you're a woman in a male-dominated field. But that didn't stop Mary Ann McKenzie-Goode from pulling her family's Houston-based industrial equipment business out of bankruptcy.

Her siblings (a sister and two brothers) opted for inactive ownership after the board elected McKenzie-Goode president following the deaths of her father and grandfather. The transition was complicated, and although things have since stabilized, it remains a sensitive issue. "Even though I had worked all my life, our family business was sort of restricted to the men in the business," McKenzie-Goode explains.

Despite that, she's proved she's more than capable of steering the company to success: In 1996, McKenzie Equipment Co. achieved profits for the first time in years and is sure to grow even more, thanks to major technological and professional advancements she chartered.

Although skeptical customers were slow to welcome her at first, McKenzie-Goode is convinced the climate is changing and that more daughters will take over their fathers' businesses down the line. Her advice to other family businesses: "Choose people for the positions [based on what] they're best suited for--not on gender. I see it as there being a job to do, and who's the best person for the job?"

Contact Sources

The Center for Family Business, P.O. Box 24219, Cleveland, OH 44124, (440) 442-0800

McKenzie Equipment Co., (713) 946-1413, fax: (713) 947-9998

National Family Business Council, 1640 W. Kennedy Rd., Lake Forest, IL 60045, (847) 295-1040

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This article was originally published in the February 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Like Father, Like Daughter.

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