Job training, communication leads A.D. Moyer through 4 generations

Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Job training, communication leads A.D. Moyer through 4 generations

[ By David A. Kostival — Reading Eagle correspondent ]

In 1939, the late Amandus D. Moyer did something extraordinary. Working as a truck mechanic and hauler for the former Boyertown Casket Co., Moyer also had an entrepreneurial spirit.

So when he had a chance to purchase the famous wooden roller coaster at the Sanatoga Amusement Park, Moyer saw an opportunity.

He disassembled the roller coaster and hauled the lumber to his home in Gilbertsville to sell to potential customers for a new business. That became the genesis of A.D. Moyer Lumber.

Seventy-five years later, the company has three locations and realizes annual gross sales in excess of $20 million. But the other fascinating accomplishment of Amandus was that he started a successful business that now sees a fourth generation taking leadership roles.

Not all family-owned businesses get to see a fourth generation interested in coming into the business, but those that do seem to be able to accomplish it through strategic succession planning.

Pat Langiotti, president of Creative Management Concepts and chairwoman of the Family Business Alliance, an initiative of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said she has seen several clients of family businesses reach the fourth generation.

"I think good communication is essential so that there is a mutual understanding of the roles of the various family members," Langiotti said. "With that understanding you have less stress, which leads to success."

Langiotti explained that when the existing family members get along well in the workplace, that often leads to the next generation wanting to get involved.

"You have to have the ability to run the business like a business and treasure the family like family," she said.

But Langiotti cautioned against what she called entitlement positions for family members.

"I've seen it (successful succession) work when family members don't just get out of school and assume management positions," Langiotti said. "They should either work their way up in the business to develop knowledge and respect from co-workers or go to work somewhere else to develop skills they can bring back to the family business."

On all of those points, A.D. Moyer seems to have followed the right path.

The company is currently co-owned by cousins Scott Moyer, 60, and Terry Moyer, 54; each have two sons working within the business.

Scott and Terry's siblings also work for the company, but each has a clear understanding and respect for one another's roles.

Scott's son Clint, who came to work in 2005, works in purchasing, and Doug, who joined in 2011, works in sales/management.

Terry's son Alex joined the company in 2010 and works in hardware and purchasing, and Erik, who came to work in 2013, specializes in sales and IT. 

Each of those sons obtained college degrees and assumed jobs within the company utilizing their particular talents.

Two of them first went to work elsewhere before making the decision to join the family business.

"A big part of this has been successful communication among all of the family members," Scott said. "We all have a greater understanding of everyone's roles. We all learned the value of this company when growing up."

Terry said the challenge for the fourth generation will be for them to come up with the capital necessary to buy shares of the business. The company has never been gifted from one generation to the next.

Scott said the company is working on a succession plan where all six Moyer men meet quarterly to discuss progress.

Terry said having the fourth generation come to work has been fairly easy because they all clearly identify their strengths and weaknesses.

"We've been able to identify how we can value their strengths," Terry said. "What makes it easier is that all four of us get along very well."

Scott said he and Terry have always had a great working relationship and that seems to have filtered down to the two sets of brothers.

"Getting along with one another has been the key to keeping a business going that was started in 1939," Terry said. "Having the fourth generation involved is incredible, because I have been able to see my sons grow in maturity and ethics."

The owners said they learned from their fathers and grandfather not to take huge salaries and to always invest back into the business.

"Amandus could not have imagined how this business would grow," Scott said. "He would be very happy for all of his family members and the employees. He was someone who didn't live beyond his means." 

Contact David Kostival: money@readingeagle.com.



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