by Gary Melville
For those living in New England the Market Basket story has been dominating the local news. And for those who live in proximity to the stores, life has been interrupted. For the workers, life is a mixture of uncertainty, loyalty, and anger. If ever there was case study in business succession planning gone bad, this is it.
Here are a few thoughts from a very former employee. In 1971 I was 14, got my work-ing papers, and began my working life at Demoulas Market in Chelmsford, MA. First jobs, like first dates, make an impression. I remember the requirement of a white shirt and a tie-and no jeans! Mike Demoulas was the owner at that time. He would visit, (inspect), the store from time-to time. Managers from the surrounding stores would call ahead to warn our store man-ager to get ready. I'm not sure if Mike served in the military, but he acted more like a general than a business man. The Demoulas Markets were different than other supermarkets. First, it was not union, second, much was expected of all employees, especially full-time personnel. A good friend of mine continued to work for Mike Demoulas after college. He died of cancer in his thirties, leaving a wife and two small children. Mike took care of his family during his treatment and after his death. From the stories told, his son Arthur T. continued his style of leadership, expecting much, and in turn going the extra mile for employees in need. Not all the stories have been good. For years we have read about law suits and Board fights. It is sad to see a family torn apart. We need to pray for a good outcome for the Demoulas family, the 25,000 employees, and for the thousands of customers relying on a store where they really can get "More for Your Dollar".
I'm not sure of what caused the discord within the Demoulas family. Much has been written, but there is always more to the story. The problem is, in many cases, after a parent dies and leaves more than ten dollars on the table without a will, there is a family fight. It is always less painful to learn from someone else's mistakes. The Demoulas family fight ought to remind us to review our own estate plan. One of the primary objectives in estate planning is peace within the family. We write a will, or create a trust, not for ourselves, but for those we love and leave behind when we die. A will provides a structured plan for our gifting to those we love and the organizations that we support.
Gary Melville is Director of Development
for the United Methodist Foundation of New
England. UMFNE is in partnership with more
than 600 United Methodist Churches in the
New England Conference and provides a wide
variety of stewardship resources for churches
and members. Visit the UMFNE website for
estate planning resources:
or call the Foundation 800-595-4347 ext. 103
to receive information on writing, or updating
by Gary Melville