JOHN BOURKE (Dad)
For me, the Succession Planning process with Rural Coach was really all about finishing off something that we had started as a family, but we didn’t really know how to conclude it effectively.
In terms of what we wanted to get out of it when we started, it was about making sure there was no family animosity when we ‘fell off the perch’ so to speak. A lawyer once said to me that “you can’t rule from the grave, but while you’re still here, you can make sure that you’ve got things right”. That really sparked a light for Raewyn and me, and it spurred us into action to make sure we got things done properly so that things were fair and equitable for both our children and their families, because they too had all made sacrifices to get the family business to where it is today.
The thing I liked most about the process with Rural Coach was that it was open, honest and transparent with no animosity along the way. They started by having each family member complete a survey which was done individually and in confidence. Then we all came together to go over the answers and to quietly work our way through their guided process. Our Coach had a remarkable ability to draw things out of people without getting them upset or uncomfortable, and there was never any feeling that you were being rushed or pressured.
At the end of the process, the thing that I felt most of all was peace-of-mind. “It was like we all went into a safe bubble when we shared our answers and then from there, it was everyone in the bubble working together to develop up our eventual plan.”
If friends ever ask me about Rural Coach, I tell them they were easy to talk to, and that it’s a wonderful feeling to now have things sorted, before it’s too late.
Our process took over a year and throughout the period, I always felt like we were working toward a solution to succession. Overall, it was a “pressureless process” and one I would highly recommend to others in the kiwifruit industry who want to get it right.
AIDAN BOURKE (Son)
Using Rural Coach was the best decision, because they focused on everything at a holistic level - which meant not just looking at the legal and financial aspects of the family business, but also getting us to talk about the social, psychological, and environmental things that were important to us. I found that side of it really interesting as it opened my eyes to hear the answers from each person in our family, and it made it a lot easier to make decisions that took into account everyone’s views and priorities.
In terms of their style, I thought that they were incredibly perceptive, recognising when it was important to probe further to get someone to say what they wanted to say. The other thing that was really good was that the meetings happened around the family table, with our Coach keeping everything on track.
For our family, it was largely smooth sailing because we’d had loose conversations in the past, although there were a couple of things said that rocked the boat, but even then, we were given time to reflect, and the forum and process meant that there was never an opportunity to get upset.
Our family found the process endorsing and more than anything, it was a relief to know where we were going. While we all had a fair idea beforehand, Rural Coach turned a rough game plan into a clear vision with surety. For my wife, it meant that she could be at ease around where we were heading. And for my parents, it was really good because they’d worked hard to achieve what they had, but in terms of ‘what next’ they wanted to be mindful of what everyone in our family wanted.
If someone asked me about getting Rural Coach on board, I would say ‘do it’ and ‘take the time to do it well’. Don’t rush it and don’t try and do it alone or with a legal or financial advisor only. You want to dig into the psychological aspects of it, so that the outcomes are significant and final for everyone.
With Rural Coach, all your bases are covered, everyone is listened to, and by working through their orderly process, your decision making is just so much easier.