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When Your Parents Want to Retire

When your parents are ready to leave the family business, be there to help them.

This story appears in the November 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Roger Neveu, 57, founder of Notch Mechanical Constructors, an industrial contracting firm in Chicopee, Massachusetts, thought he had the best job in the world-until 1998, when he turned the presidency of the company over to his son Steven, 38, who'd been his right-hand man. Now Neveu is semi-retired and working three days per week on an as-needed basis, doing drafting work and operating the crane. "I love what I'm doing. I'm not really an office person," he says. "And these guys [five of his seven children are in the business] are the best at what they do. They seem to do a better job running the company than I did, and I like that."

If you're running the family business with a parent, you probably know the idea of retirement isn't always as cheery a proposition as it was for Neveu. "For people to retire comfortably, they have to feel they've reduced the risks involved," says Ivan Lansberg, senior partner at Lansberg, Gersick & Associates LLC, a family business consulting firm in New Haven, Connecticut, and author of Succeeding Generations: Realizing The Dream of Families in Business(Harvard Business School Press). One of those risks is how competent the successor is. In Neveu's case, he's certain the company is in good hands, so he's comfortable stepping down.

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