Conversations with Goodman podcast host Susan LeBlanc recently spoke with Stokes Seeds President Wayne Gale about family business.
A guest speaker in Professor Teresa Menzies’ family business course, Gale discussed the 136-year history of Stokes and shared some lessons he has taught Goodman students over the past 15 years during repeated visits to campus.
“A lot of the students are actually members of family businesses in their own right, which is interesting and I hear some of their stories,” Gale said.
The family business has its roots firmly planted in Niagara. In addition to its head office and retail store in Thorold and a farm outside Port Dalhousie, the company also operates offices in New York and New Jersey and has a wide distribution network covering North America.
Gale’s grandfather worked in sales for the original company and purchased it during the Depression. The company has remained in the Gale family for three generations.
Gale emphasized the importance of having solid succession plans in place, a lesson he shares with students each time he visits the Goodman School of Business.
“There are three major planning elements of a succession plan,” Gale explained.
“One is the ownership plan, who’s going to own the company, the next one is the management plan and sometimes the owners are not part of the management team, and the one that usually messes up most family succession plans is the financial plan.”
Stokes sells vegetable and flower seeds to both commercial growers and home gardeners. The company, which supplies Sobeys and Loblaws, as well as many farmer markets, sees order values that range from $5 to well over $500,000.
This podcast is the latest in the Conversations with Goodman series which is produced by the Goodman Marketing, Communications and Alumni Relations team and features guests from the Goodman community.