Industry Insights • Operations • 53 minutes

Fight Like Hell: When a Family Business Succession Becomes a Battlefield

March 12, 2024

Episode Overview

Mike Prencavage Jr. believed he’d take ownership of The Family Plumber after he integrated into the business after college and his dad was ready to step aside.

It didn’t work that way.  

Father and son had different ideas about the use of technology in the workplace. Dad was from the paper-and-pencil era. Prencavage Jr. saw that automations and electronic records management was the way of the future.

They butted heads. It wasn’t pretty. While the family business was trying to find a way forward, Prencavage Jr. knew they couldn’t do anything to harm the company during the turmoil.

“Reputation is everything,” Prencavage Jr. says. “We have a lot to uphold with the name The Family Plumber. We really have to stick to a value system [and] a great reputation that can’t be tarnished in any way.” 

They fought like hell, but father and son did eventually iron out their differences. And their bond now is all the stronger for it.

Lesson learned: Have a succession plan in place.

“If you're thinking of starting a succession or a plan to bring somebody into place to possibly take over your company [and] you don't have any processes in place…you make it so much harder,” Prencavage says.  

Taking that concept a step further, he says The Family Plumber now has smoother lines of communication for all aspects of the company.

“When you run a group meeting [and bring] other great people in your organization into the conversation,” Pencavage Jr. says, “whether they're managers or down to technicians or apprentices, so much more productivity comes out of it.” 

And family peace can reign.

Mike Prencavage Jr. recently joined ServiceTitan’s Jackie Aubel on the “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast, which included Prencavage’s thoughts on:

  • [7:31] Navigating a rocky family business takeover 

  • [20:46] Using “Fight Like Hell” tactics 

  • [23:25] How to show future generations value in trades businesses

  • [36:03] Transparency in the trades 

  • [40:10] Bridging innovation and new ideas with tradition

To hear more stories from the trades, subscribe to Toolbox for the Trades on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or anywhere you get podcasts.

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Toolbox for the Trades is a podcast where top service professionals share the tips, tricks, and tactics they use to succeed in their industry. Hosted by Jackie Aubel, this podcast is brought to you by ServiceTitan—the leading home and commercial field service software.

Episodes will feature stories and strategies to help contractors grow and scale their service business.

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