Succession planning is good for your brand

The hit HBO show “Succession” brought to the mainstream a concept that has been around for centuries. Some even argue there are lessons from God on succession planning in the Bible. No matter how far it dates back, the concept of planning for what and who is next when it comes to a business’ future is an important part of keeping that business — and its brand — strong and successful.
Studies show, however, that few small business owners have a succession plan in place, despite many of those same business owners planning to sell their business to fund their retirement. Whether corporate or family-owned, poor planning when it comes to the next generation of ownership and leadership can lead to profit loss, lack of employee retention and even closure of the business.
Adam Schlusler, vice president and wealth advisor at ChoiceOne Bank works with business owners and leaders on succession planning and sees first-hand why the process is so important.
“Succession planning provides continuity and ensures the smooth transition of leadership and management roles, minimizing disruptions to operations when key personnel leave due to retirement, resignation, or unforeseen circumstances,” said Schlusler.
Rick Burrough, owner and president of View Newspaper Group announced this week the succession plan for key leadership positions as two team members approach retirement. See page 3 for details.
“Succession planning is an integral part of any organization and as a growing community newspaper group it is vital that we continue to keep a close eye on team member’s retirement dates and plan for the next generation of leadership,” said Burrough. “Planning allows the team members next in line for these key leadership roles ample time to train for the position and become familiar with daily tasks and goals and get to better know team members who will fall under their direction. Most importantly, this planning ensures a seamless transition ultimately keeping the quality of our newspapers, events and community support at 100%. It also gives peace of mind to our readers and clients, who we value, that our company will not miss a beat.”
Those retiring include View Newspaper Group controller Jill Nichols, who plans to retire in Spring 2025, and View Newspaper Group Publisher Wes Smith, who plans to retire mid-year 2026. Nichols has been with View Newspaper Group and sister company Michigan Web Press (MWP) for 37 years. Smith has been in the newspaper industry for more than 50 years.
Taking on Nichols’ role will be accounting assistants Lindsey McMillan and Kasey Tysick. Taking on Smith’s role will be Pete Clinton advertising director, who will focus on sales and advertising, Jennifer Ward, Tri-County Times general manager and graphics manager, who will focus on graphic design and digital development, and me. I will focus on the editorial side of the business, making me the third generation of my family to do so. (Publisher Wes Smith is my father.)
Obviously, succession planning at View Newspaper Group has been personal for my dad and me, but nowhere near as cut-throat as the process portrayed in HBO’s “Succession.” We have been and remain very close.
Some may wonder why it takes five people to replace two. To answer that Smith said, ‘“In reality, Lindsey, Kasey, you, Pete and Jennifer have already been lightening the load for Jill and me for a while now. As View Newspaper Group and Michigan Web Press have continued to grow – six newspaper acquisitions plus a second printing plant in just the last five years – there’s no way Jill and I could have successfully managed that growth without all of your support as well as each of you fulfilling your own roles.”
Some have wondered why we shared this news when the retirements aren’t official for a year or two. Our leadership team had conversations about the timing and ultimately decided that transparency is part of our brand, meaning it felt right to share this news with our clients and readers now, so they understand our team is ready to serve them well into the future. We are also hopeful that doing so will lead more businesses to consider their own succession planning.
There are parts of succession planning that must be kept inside the walls of a business, of course, but letting clients and the community know that your team is engaging in succession planning strengthens your business and your brand.
“Staying focused on succession planning helps with retention and development, because you are constantly identifying and nurturing talent within the organization, motivating employees by providing clear career paths and development opportunities,” said Schlusler. “Overall, it’s essential for the long-term sustainability, growth, and adaptability of your business.”
Succession planning is not easy. Our team is proud of the work we’ve done and eager for the work ahead as we plan for this important transition at View Newspaper Group.
Do you have a succession planning story to share? I’d love to hear it. Email
Emily Caswell is the Brand Manager for VIEW Group, the branding division of View Newspaper Group.

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