Succession Planning: Father, Son and the Leadership Journey
Like many of America’s family owned businesses, CCB Technology‘s leadership and ownership may ultimately shift from a founding father (Chris Booth) to his son (Patrick Booth). But for Patrick, eventually running CCB Technology wasn’t a birthright. Instead, the ongoing leadership transition has been a hard-earned, multi-year journey that continues today — and will stretch on into the future.
The current management organization is simply defined. Father Chris Booth founded CCB Technology in 1991 and remains CEO. Son Patrick Booth has spent more than a decade climbing the executive ranks at CCB, most recently becoming president in 2013. At some point the CEO title (and perhaps even company ownership) may shift to Patrick Booth. But again, that transition isn’t guaranteed. Patrick Booth will need to work hard, and work smart, to earn the CEO title.
Here’s a closer look at the Racine, Wis.-based company’s multi-year journey — and the father-son relationship that drives CCB Technology forward today. Plus, ChannelE2E explores the potential CEO transition that’s still to come.
Side note for readers: CCB Technology has an extensive, talented team across business development, marketing, IT services, operations and sales. But for the purpose of this report, we focused in on Chris and Patrick Booth.
1991: Software Costs How Much?
Chris Booth launched Consistent Computer Bargains (CCB) in 1991 (rebranded as CCB Technology in 2015) with a clear mission and focus. His thesis: Nonprofits could rarely afford software at the time. Drive down the price to nonprofits, and software consumption overall would rise — actually increasing revenues and profits for the software suppliers.
Booth was right. After much lobbying, Microsoft and several other big software providers embraced Booth’s reasoning and nonprofit pricing models. Dozens of additional software vendors — about 95 overall — followed suit. CCB became the first company to provide discounted software pricing exclusively for nonprofits.
Chris Booth says much of the company’s success was built on trust — “If you don’t have trust — as a company advisor or as an individual — then customers avoid you.” Instead, customers won big. CCB believes it has saved over 40,000 customers more than $400 million on their IT purchases since 1991.
The market opportunity has also grown — stretching from about 1.2 million nonprofits around 1990 to roughly 2 million today. “The nonprofits in 1991 were about seven to 10 years behind corporate America. Around 2000, they were about five years behind. By 2015, they’re only one year behind,” Chris Booth estimates.
Why’s that? It all comes down to affordable technology that’s now widely available to nonprofit organizations, he says.
During the 1990s, son Patrick Booth began to surface in the employee ranks. In 1993, Patrick Booth was 13 years old — and became shipping manager in the business. But that doesn’t mean the son would stick around to learn from his dad. At least not yet.
2001 to 2010: Coming Home
By around 2000, Patrick Booth was out of the family business, living in southern California and working for Black & Decker in a sales role.
“I never thought I’d run the family business,” Patrick Booth says. “I grew up around the dinner table learning about being a business owner and it sounded like a lot of stress. Coming to CCB was not really discussed.”
But that changed when Patrick Booth began to compare corporate life at Black & Decker to the family-run entrepreneurial life at CCB back in Wisconsin. “I really began to see the difference between small business and the corporate world. And I didn’t want to ‘just do sales.’ I wanted to help people.”
The journey back to CCB involved a sales position — covering the Florida and Georgia territory from his residence in Los Angeles. By 2004, Patrick Booth was back in Wisconsin — at the business headquarters. Over the next decade, Patrick Booth navigated nine positions — each with increased responsibility — at the family business.
Next Page: Patrick Booth earns the president role, and makes an IT services push.