“If only there had been something like it in existence when I had to take over running the family business, I would have been better prepared for the challenge,” he says. Stratus Packaging Europe runs self-adhesive, sleeving and in-mold label operations at three factories in France, employing 240 people.
Leiser had to take up the reins unexpectedly four years ago when his father became ill and had no alternative but to hand the responsibility of running the business over to his son more quickly than he had planned.
“Although I had degrees in production and management engineering and had worked as a management consultant, I was totally unprepared for the responsibilities of running the family business when it was thrust upon me so suddenly,” he says. “While I had met and worked with people in other companies who were a help to me, I welcomed having more experience of the kind that FINAT is now undertaking through its Young Managers’ Club. Because my father was taken ill so suddenly, we had not had time to prepare for the change and there were many things I did not know about our operations but which I had to handle from day one.
“It was also very difficult for our employees suddenly finding a new man at the helm – and some people were saying I was taking over just because I was his son and not because I was necessarily capable,” Leiser adds.
FINAT’s Young Managers’ Club recognizes an increasing need for mutual assistance among companies whose founders are now reaching the age when they need to organize a succession. Membership in the club will enable young managers to meet and discuss mutual problems, listen to experts in relevant subjects and undertake exchange visits between firms to gain extra experience from other manufacturing methods.
“Ours is a comparatively young industry,” Leiser says, “and many of the people in it started their own companies. They need to be grooming their children to take on the family business, but these children often have had experience only working within the family firm. Such an organization would have been of great help in preparing me for the eventuality. I am sure it will be appreciated by many other young managers in companies in Europe and around the world as they prepare to advance in their careers.”