Choosing Your Family Business Advisors

Know when you need to get help.

People often ask me the secret of Frank Perdue’s success.

He had to do hundreds of things right. He had to be able to see the big picture as well as be detail oriented. But there was something else: when he needed help, he wasn’t afraid to go out and find it.

It was a mark of his intelligence that he knew when to get help. If he needed help with legal, advertising, or governmental affairs, he spent the time and money to get that help. Once he had completed his research on who would be the best for the job, he hired the person or persons and listened to them.

This is in contrast to the individual who feels he knows it all, or who waits until the barn is already on fire. Instead, Frank was proactive. It was a hallmark of how he conducted his life, that he anticipated issues before they appeared and before family members had developed rigid and opposing opinions. By anticipating problems, he forestalled some of the anguish that we see in famous families that destroy themselves through family feuds.

(If you’re in the mood for some sobering cautionary tales, visit FORBES, . You’ll read the stories of anguish, misery and destruction, that come about when families don’t get the human relations part of the equation right.)

Frank was aware that only 3% of family businesses make it to the third generation and he wanted to beat those odds. After all, he was a family man to the core and handing on to his descendants his legacy of producing a needed product and providing tens of thousands of jobs was all-important to him.

A chart from John Ward’s book: How to Choose and Use Advisors

By temperament, Frank had no interest in reinventing the wheel, and if there were professionals who had expertise in the matters, it was predictable that he would seek out and find one. He chose John Ward in 1994 and the relationship with the Family Business Consulting Business continues to this day, although John Ward has now retired and Frank has passed on. Today Jennifer Pendergast continues a relationship initiated 23 years ago.
Since John Ward was the family business advisor Frank chose, I’m concluding, with permission, a chart from him that you might find helpful. It’s from his book, HOW TO CHOOSE AND USE ADVISORS. .

A chart by John Ward to help people find the right family business advisors

You can reach Drew Mendoza, the managing principal of the firm John Ward co-founded, at the Family Business Consulting Group by e-mailing him at:


Mitzi Perdue is a speaker, author, and businesswoman. She is the widow of Frank Perdue and daughter of Ernest Henderson, founder of the Sheraton Hotel Chain.

Permission is granted to reprint this blog post in your newsletter or magazine with the following byline and clickable link: To find out more about her programs and services:


or call 410 860 4444.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *