Leadership Succession at Achal: A Tough Nut to Crack
Achal Industries was a 40-year-old proprietary family enterprise engaged in cashew processing and export. Giridhar Prabhu, 57, was Achal's second generation entrepreneur and managed its operations in the Indian states of Karnataka and Maharashtra. He had been in this labor intensive business for close to three decades. Family owned businesses and private partnership firms dominated this sector. The cashew processing industry was facing severe constraints due to high employee turnover and a labor shortage. Many enterprises had started exploring the option of automating cashew processing at their factories. Giridhar had also been studying and analyzing this option. He anticipated that, five years hence, automation would prove more economical than labor-intensive cashew processing. His own plan was to retire from the business in five years, but to his disappointment, he found that none of his three daughters was interested in running the business. Giridhar felt he would not have the ability to manage a new, profitable automated factory, which would demand quite an effort, as he got older. Lack of support from the family would add to that burden. In November 2014, he was contemplating future options that included selling his business, expanding the business and inducting professional non-family members to steer the enterprise's future. The dilemma before him was to choose the option that would be best for him, his enterprise and his family.