Minnesota Motor Co. has capitalized on the strengths of individuals in the family that has operated the dealership for 82 years.
Steve Brimhall, 52, president of the Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac retailer in Fergus Falls, Minn., considers himself a salesman and a leader. His cousin, Tom Brimhall, is good with numbers and is the CFO.
The five family members on the board of directors agreed to put Steve in charge of the business.
The same pattern evolved with Steve's father, Richard, and Tom's father, Bradford, a generation ago. Steve's son, Matthew Brimhall, has entered the business and is being groomed to take over as dealer principal.
"We try to look at what the person is good at. And if they have good people skills, they may be best for sales," Steve says. "If they are great with numbers, they may do best in accounting."
Yet Steve Brimhall acknowledges that keeping everyone happy through daily operations can take a bit of diplomacy.
"When family is involved, sometimes a decision is hard to make," he says. "You do worry about feelings, and you try to keep the peace. You have to communicate with people and resolve problems. Yet you have to make decisions that are right for the business."