When two or even three partners are involved, good communication and a common vision are important to a business' success. And when those partners are father and son or brothers, those elements are even more significant.
The strength of family ties has played a key role in the longevity of Hall Chevrolet, which has been a family business since its 1926 foundation in Wauwatosa, Wis., a Milwaukee suburb.
The two sons of founder A.C. Hall worked with their father from the 1930s until his death in 1954. All three - A.C. Hall and his sons, R.L. Hall and G. Latham Hall, were listed as the "dealer" on the General Motors franchise agreement in 1941. The two brothers took over in 1954. R.L. Hall's son, Andy, bought his Uncle Latham's share in 1976, and father and son were listed as the dealer on the franchise until Andy Hall bought out his father in 1991.
Andy Hall, 57, the current president, formed Hall Imports in 1987 to sell Mazda and Volkswagen in nearby Brookfield, Wis.
Andy Hall recalls hearing that it was unusual for a GM dealership to have more than one name on the franchise. But he says that the family members always got along, and the lack of a single leader never created any serious problems.
His father knew it was time to step aside to let Andy run the business in 1976 and went on to "be his best salesman." He retained the title of president until his son bought him out.
"My dad said he and I didn't always agree, but we never disagreed," Hall says. "We had lively discussions, but at the end of the day, we still had a common vision. If you don't have better than average communication, that won't work."