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Successful succession planning for Maker’s Mark

What would happen to your company if something were to suddenly happen to the CEO? Would the company have a smooth transition to a new leader, or would it fall apart?

Much of this success or failure depends on whether or not the company has a CEO succession plan in place. Korn/Ferry recently conducted a survey of over 1,300 companies in which 98% stated they believe that a CEO succession plan is important, despite only 35% currently having one in place. The Oliver Group guides companies through the succession planning process. Maker’s Mark, the iconic bourbon brand, is an example of The Oliver Group’s work helping leaders plan for succession, having been through the process successfully on 2 separate occasions, documented in our case study.

The Oliver Group first helped Maker’s Mark as they were simultaneously passing leadership from the founder, Bill Samuels, Sr. to his son, Bill Samuels, Jr., and looking to grow the business into to a major player in the bourbon industry. Maker’s Mark would once again turn to The Oliver Group when Bill Jr. was 65 and saw the need to update the succession plan. Bill’s son, Rob, had rejoined the business to succeed his father. The Oliver Group was able to provide Rob with insights into his operating styles and teach him how to utilize these behaviors as strengths and motivate his team members.  A successful transition occurred with Rob Samuels accepting the role of COO of Maker’s Mark in 2012, when Bill Samuels, Jr. retired and became Chairman Emeritus.

Companies know the importance of succession planning, but more often than not, they do not take the time to implement a plan. Companies who plan ahead will be in a much better position to manage through obstacles, and continue to succeed in the future.  Read our full case study to learn more about Maker’s Mark, and watch the video below to hear from the Samuels family themselves.

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Post by Jeanne Ward.

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