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The Ready.Set.Retire! Blog


The Retirement Success in Maine Podcast Ep 004 - Balancing Your Retirement In A Multi-Generational Family Business with Susan Ware Page

Benjamin Smith, CFA

Executive Summary

Retirement Success in Maine Susan Ware Page

In this episode, we travel to Rockland, Maine to have a conversation with the President of Maritime Energy, Susan Ware Page. What's interesting about Susan's story is that she's a 3rd generation business owner that has helped her father, John Ware, successfully exit the family business to find his own retirement success. What has she learned about helping her father find his retirement success that she is thinking about for herself? What pressure is there on Susan to sustain the business and hand the business to the next generation? Can she successfully do that as she stewards the company to the next family generation?

What You'll Learn In This Podcast Episode:

  • Introduction of our guest, Susan Ware Page, and the history of the business. [2:00]
  • Discussion about the succession of Maritime Energy from Susan’s grandfather, Roland, to Susan’s father, John. [7:00]
  • With Susan’s father, John, running the company, how did the business evolve? [14:12]
  • How did Susan grow up with the business? How did she end up with Maritime Energy? [25:55]
  • Discussion about Susan’s father, John, and his personal retirement success. [35:00]
  • Discussion around Susan's Mom, Karen, and how while even receiving medical care for Cancer, she wanted her family to help fight cancer to save other families from similar struggles. And how the family and company created the Energy 4 Life 501c3. [39:48]
  • Discussion about how Susan’s experiences with her father and losing her mother will impact her own retirement success. [49:06]
  • How does Susan define her own retirement success? [52:20]


Maritime Energy

The History of Maritime Energy

Maritime Energy on Facebook

Energy 4 Life  Page

Maine Cancer Foundation

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Ben:                 Hi. This is Ben Smith. I'm happy to be joined by the Tango to my Cash, Mr. Curtis Worcester, how you doing today, Curtis?

Curtis:              I'm well, Ben, how are you?

Ben:                 I'm well. So we are here in Rockland, Maine today. So retirement success in Maine, this is our first out-of-office experience.

Curtis:              Took a road trip today.

Ben:                 Little road trip. A little bit rainy disappointingly on today, from podcast world you never know what the weather is going to be. We took a trip down to Rockland today and we're real excited about today's guest. So the idea being that for retirement, retirement success, we know a lot of people struggle with this idea of career success and its career success or entrepreneurship or business success and when they get into a situation where a lot of their identity is wrapped up in that career success and it's tough to pivot or transition out of that. That's something where we've experienced a lot with the clients we have and talking to people out there.

Ben:                 So we wanted, when we were designing this show and we were thinking about what retirement success in Maine really is, we know that Maine has a ton of small businesses and that was something that we wanted to be talking about with the audience. So I've known our guest today, Susan Ware Page, for probably 10-15 years at this stage and Susan and her family has got a really great unique story and that was the person we really were thinking about when were thinking about this topic. Her and her family have a really great viewpoint from how business has changed. So that's where we wanted to go today. So I wanted to introduce Susan to the podcast today. So welcome, Susan, to Retirement Success in Maine.

Susan:              Thank you.

Ben:                 How you doing today?

Susan:              Good. Good, I'm very well thank you. Thanks for having me, guys.

Ben:                 Excellent. Yeah, well happy to have you here.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 One of the things that we usually get into who you are and your background, but what we wanted to do is... Susan, can you just explain your role with... and the businesses Maritime Energy, Maritime Farms, is that right?

Susan:              Yes, yes. We're one company even though we have really two separate business entities. We have Maritime Energy, which is an energy company, full service, so we deliver heating oil, K-1, propane, diesel, on and off-road diesel gasoline and we have a full team of service technicians, actually the largest in the mid-coast area of Maine.

Ben:                 Oh nice.

Susan:              So we do everything from no heat calls to parts replacement to full blown install. So we do a lot of boiler, furnace installs and also heat pump installs now has been a real popular thing. On the store side of the business we have 13 stores now in the Maritime Farms, located everywhere from New Castle, which is our southern most store, all the ways up to Searsport... Excuse me, actually Stockton Springs now.

Ben:                 Nice.

Susan:              We actually just acquired another one in April here, and then we're over into Jefferson. So we service four counties, Knox, Lincoln, Waldo and Hancock counties.

Ben:                 Excellent and of course the business has changed a lot over three generations of family here, right? Can you just get into a little bit of the story of your grandfather, how he started the business, how he got into this? Can you just give us that little background story for how it started?

Susan:              Sure. It's really pretty remarkable when I think about the history and I was only a year old when my grandfather passed away, so a lot of what I've learned has been history from my family and from customers actually as well. He, back in 1939, started Maritime Oil at 532 Main Street here in Rockland. We still own the property to this day, because it's definitely a landmark for our company. He had moved his family from Portland, Maine. He was an investment banker down there and moved his family. At that time, he and his wife, my grandmother, had two children, one of them being my father and moved them from Portland, rented a place in Thomaston while they renovated the house in Rockland and got the office prepared to open up.

Susan:              So in 1939 he figured the economic times were not great, coming out of The Depression there and then also on the brinks of the War-

Ben:                 World War II.

Susan:              ... War breaking out.

Ben:                 Yep.

Susan:              So it was a very volatile time and looking back it was pretty remarkable that he took such a significant risk, especially having a young family.

Ben:                 How old was he at that point?

Susan:              My grandfather? Well, let's see here...

Ben:                 I'm not putting [crosstalk 00:04:45]

Susan:              Yeah. I can figure that out here.

Ben:                 Mid-30s probably? Something...

Susan:              Let's see. He passed away in 1978 and he was 77 years old when he passed away so doing the math-

Ben:                 Yep, 1901.

Susan:              ... back to 19-

Ben:                 So 38 years old or so.

Susan:              Yeah.

Ben:                 Yep. Wow.

Susan:              Yep, so then at that time he operated a gasoline station and as a retail location he sold blue Sunoco gasoline and the gasoline was actually dyed blue back in the day.

Ben:                 Really? Huh.

Susan:              And so if someone actually looked at the gas itself or opened up the taker or saw the product itself it was actually blue and that was part of the market in that Sunoco company did back then, the supplier.

Ben:                 Interesting.

Susan:              So that was part of the blue Sunoco. Anyhow, then he ended up having one oil truck and started delivering oil, a full service station and then the company continued to grow. He survived through the wartime there, his family was growing as well, and he ended up having two more children, so a total of four children. Then in the '50s the company grew to the point where they needed more space, so they moved over here to this property location-

Ben:                 Which is 234 Park Street.

Susan:              234 Park Street, yep. Then the Boston of Rockland Railroad Station had a roundhouse here, so they shared some of the same building and then over time my grandfather needed basically more space as the company continued to grow and then eventually took over having the entire space. Then the office that we're in today was actually built in 1999, but this property years ago when my grandfather built it, it was on the road to the Rockland Dump, to the transfer station, so apparently he always thought like, "Geez, did I make the right decision?" And then as the city of Rockland progressed and the traffic increased coming into Rockland and knowing they needed a better road, all of a sudden it became prime location here because the road was changed and this became Route 1. So it put him in a prime location.

Ben:                 There you go.

Susan:              So it all kind of worked out at the end, but for years he apparently wasn't sure whether it was the right spot to be in and ultimately it ended up being so.

Ben:                 Can you talk a little bit about, obviously your dad, but you have three other aunts or uncles at that stage too, right?

Susan:              Yes.

Ben:                 So that's always a tough thing where there's anytime you go, "Hey... You're family member or your father, whoever it is, is involved in a business to say, "Hey, I'd like you to be involved." How did your dad get involved? Why him or why not maybe other siblings of your dad's?

Susan:              Well, the oldest son, Roland were my uncle. He's 87 actually, lives down in Portland and he's a retired doctor, so he ended up becoming a radiologist and worked for Maine Medical Center for 25 years. So he went into the medical field. The youngest sister, Anna, she's actually back in the area now. She lived out on the West Coast for many years and she was a nurse, so she went a different career route. Then my other aunt, who's deceased, she held a bunch of different jobs throughout the years and just really the other siblings, they just went different career paths.

Susan:              For my father, he worked for DuPont, he was a Bowdoin graduate and studied chemistry, is what his degree was in and then he went to work for DuPont in New Jersey. Then after that he went into the Army, so he spent 18 months over in France and was stationed over there and had traveled pretty much to many places around the country during his time in the Army. So when he did his duty-

Ben:                 And how old was he in the Army?

Susan:              He was in the Army for his two years.

Ben:                 Okay, yep.

Susan:              Yeah, and so then when he got out of the Army then he knew that he had the opportunity back at DuPont, to go back to DuPont, but at that time he really wanted to come back home and he wasn't too enthused about working for DuPont, even though it was a really good job because they send you anywhere they want to send you and at that point, spending time in France and the West Coast of the U.S. and spending the time working for DuPont in New Jersey, he figured at that point he'd seen enough of the country and the world and really wanted to be back in Maine where his family was from.

Susan:              So it was a great opportunity and I'm sure my grandfather was very happy to have him come back. I know my dad has told me that he didn't put any pressure on him, but the opportunity was there and it worked out. So he came back home and my grandfather started grooming him in the business and that was back in 1958.

Ben:                 So 1958, your dad was involved in Maritime Energy at that point. What was the succession like? What was that transition for your grandfather, then for your father, how long did that take and how much was that structured I guess is my question there?

Susan:              As far as the structure, what the philosophy was back then, which I think is definitely true today and with my father being a male in the industry, he started driving a fuel truck and my grandfather basically started him out like grounds root learning the different aspects of the company and the different jobs and having him do the different jobs of the company.

Susan:              So he was a fuel oil driver, and then he drove a transport for the company and hauled product out of Portland and out of Searsport back to the [inaudible 00:10:06] plants and then he became, when they decided to get into the service aspect with service technicians, he actually became the first service technician of the company, so that was my father himself-

Ben:                 Sure, no kidding.

Susan:              ... which is really neat and today at 85 years old he still holds his master oil license, which is pretty impressive.

Ben:                 Wow, all right.

Susan:              So we joke about it, that he was the service department for the company and he's taken a lot of calls at night. My mother used to answer the phone a lot at night when the calls would come into the house, but that-

Ben:                 Just all hours of all days, right?

Susan:              Oh yeah. Yes, absolutely. So he really had that grounds root effort to learn the different jobs and then my grandfather, after he got through that process and really got the foundation and understood the pieces of the puzzle of the company and how all aspects is important to the whole operation, then my grandfather made him operations manager and was certainly grooming him to take over the business and then in 1978, when my grandfather was 77 years old, he passed away. So my grandfather was technically still working for the company.

Ben:                 Sure, okay.

Susan:              They had the 20 years together though and then at that time my father became president of the company.

Ben:                 Got you. So maybe just go back a little bit with your dad, that must have been really tough, right? Hey, I'm a Bowdoin grad, I've been in the Army, I was working for DuPont and I got all this really great experience, chemistry major, right, and here I am starting ground level with the company that my dad owns. I think in today's day and age, man, that's a tough thing because there's a sense of entitlement as is, "Hey, my dad is this, so I'm automatically going to be the manager, I'm going to be upper executive management in this company."

Ben:                 Kind of a very humbling ground story is someone that just said, "Hey, I'm here to work. I want to know everything there is to know about this organization, this business that my dad's built." To be able to come in with all those credentials and kind of get to, "I'm going to know everything I need to know and soak it all up and it's just really all things I need to know to run the organization."

Susan:              Yeah, that's a good point, Ben, and I think part of our success is that my father's a very modest man and he's always said, "Look, I put my pants on the same way every day as everyone else does and that's one leg at a time," so a lot of people say, "Mr. Ware," he's like, "Please call me John. Call me John," and I find it true for myself too, like coming as a female into a male dominated industry is like, "Gosh, how am I going to do this?" and I'm starting out managing men that are in their 70s, anywhere from their 20s to their 70s and I'm in my mid-20s.

Susan:              I think looking back at it the thing for me and I think I can say it's true for my father too, is that you got to gain the respect of the people and it's not about the position, it's not about the title, it's about, in a family business it's you need to learn the business, you need to understand it, but you're not better or above anybody. You might have more responsibility and obviously you do and a lot more stress, but at the same time being very modest about things and humble and working alongside our people and I think very different from a corporate structure by all means, that there's things that we just can't delegate to other people because there's nobody to delegate to, right?

Ben:                 That's right. You got to be a master of everything, right?

Susan:              Yeah, and that's part of a family business, is that you do what it takes, you surround yourself with a really dynamic team who cares and we try to get our people to say like, "Look, we want you to treat this business like it's yours, we want you to own it." I think that's part of my father's success through the years was that, "Hey, this job isn't beneath me," and actually he loved it. My dad's a very mechanical guy, very social man and he really enjoyed those times because he knew he was doing something that was productive, it was a job that needed to be done and it was helping the company and helping taking care of the customers.

Ben:                 So can you walk through... obviously we have your grandfather passed in 1978 and your dad... I won't use the word thrust because it's 20 years of transition, right, for him to get into that seat of becoming the president, but it's very different when you are in that seat. It's one thing to observe it, another thing to actually be practicing as that position. So where was the business at that point in terms of the size? Maybe in just size whether it be employees or reach or whatever, but how did your dad get into the role, evolve with the business over time over his career? Can you walk us through 1978 until he retired?

Susan:              Yeah, I think for my father probably the largest transition, part of it is going from knowing the mechanical piece of the business really well, knowing the trucks well, knowing the process of the supply chain and getting the products from the terminals, knowing the heating systems inside and out and taking a lot of pride in being able to fix basically anything, everything and anything, still to this day he's very good at that, to get into the management aspect of it and the operations and the insurances and the taxes and the finances and decisions that impact everybody and salaries. You name it, there's all these things that you kind of have to be a jack of all trade, master of none.

Susan:              So that part of it I think was probably the hardest transition for my father, but what he did is he had two men that he really delegated a lot of the responsibilities to, he relied on them heavily and he basically let them, empowered them to do basically their jobs and I think that's really important. In any business and especially in the smaller family business, that you have empower people to make those decisions and to support them, to back it up, that, "Look, this is our belief, this is our mission, this is a vision of where we want to go," and then let people do their jobs and not micromanage them and instill that confidence in them.

Susan:              So he's surrounded himself with a good team and they saw a lot of changes through the years, the energy crisis and they got into selling wood stoves back in the '80s and obviously the technology has changed the business so much and the economic times, dealing with all the different changes in the economy and trying to survive. Our business today is very much different than what it was back then. Because of the changes we've seen a lot of acquisitions in the market and now the majority of our competition, both on the energy side and the store side is that we're competing against out-of-state companies and out-of-the-country companies and getting right back to the service that my father used to provide back in his timeframe is that that service I think is still today what really sets us apart from a lot of those other companies because if you're calling Canada and you need a service call, do they really know where you're located?

Ben:                 And that's the theme I think maybe nationally, is this idea of just consolidation anyway, right, is you're dealing with bigger and bigger organizations all the time, whether it be from banking or whatever industry. So it gets very impersonal when you start getting into this idea of, "Hey my interactions with the call center and they're in wherever and they're dispatching somebody that I don't know either," which is creating great opportunities in this day and age for small businesses to have those relationships, right? So our pressure needs to be that, "Hey, we know our neighbors, we know their kids' names and we know that they're on the softball team," and all those things, and that's a community business though and I think that's what's really fun about maybe just small business.

Ben:                 Also, Maine and again I know we're doing retirement success in Maine and Maine is such a small place anyway, is that you and I talk a lot is you can go up to Presque Isle, you can go to Portland and you run into somebody that you know. You go Western Maine, and Farmington and, "Well what are you doing here?" and you see people and it's very friendly and there's very few degrees of separation across the state. So even though we're in Rockland today and Curtis and I are sitting in Bangor, we have offices in Portland and you cover the state, but it's just you can go anywhere and you're running into each other.

Susan:              Yeah it's really neat.

Ben:                 It's fun.

Susan:              When I lived out in Seattle back in 1999, I lived out there for two years and I liked it. I like it, it was a great area, but one of the things that I kind of felt back at that age, like just getting out of college, is like everybody knew who I was, from the family business or from playing basketball in college and it was almost kind of of escaping and just being a number for a chance and for a different time and you could roll out of bed in the morning, go to the grocery store and wouldn't see a soul that you knew, didn't really care what you looked like or anything.

Susan:              But I found over time, over that couple years is like, "You know what? I really miss bumping into people. I really miss seeing people in the community and knowing the community and being so involved in the community." It's funny because over time I was like, "Wow, I really miss that aspect of it," which back when I left there I was kind of escaping that and then I was, "No, that's part of where I want to be because I want to be involved in the community and I want to know the community." So when I decided to come back home it was I knew that this is where I wanted to be.

Ben:                 And to that point, your dad had that too, as he was at Dow, in the Army, there must have been some of that gravity back to him, right, to kind of come back to his father and this business, right? Because I think you Maine you have to have this be a choice.

Susan:              That's right.

Ben:                 Seasons are hard at times and the economic times can be a little harder, so we all have a grit to us that we're trying to work through these things. So that's kind of the fun thing is I think we're all in it together and we have this locked arms thing that we all stand together and help each other mentality.

Susan:              That's right. Yeah, absolutely.

Ben:                 But for your dad getting into the business and then working through in his career, I think that's a remarkable thing that you said about him trusting people and I think that's a really difficult thing that small business owners do, is they have difficulty scaling because they have difficulty trusting. They don't trust the team around them. It is tough to find people that you can surround yourself with and around that have the skills that compliment what you're trying to do and you're looking to them for expertise. That's a hard thing, so that's a really commendable trait that your dad had maybe early on of recognizing who he could surround himself with, especially in Maine, that's sometimes tough to find talent.

Susan:              Yeah, that's right, and you realize you can't do it alone. No matter what company it is that you're working for or what job that you're doing, it's that you need that support of your teammates or say of your coworkers and like you said we're in it together. I like to say to people here, "Look, we make decisions as a team. Our heads together are better than... We just say, "and this is what we're going to do."

Ben:                 Sure, for sure.

Susan:              And when others are involved in the decision making then they buy into it and they're part of the solution to what we're doing and they're also a part of the plan. One of our gals here, she always says, "Poor planning makes for a poor performance," and that's so true. That's so true, so one of the parts of trying to continue to have a viable business is to have a plan in place and you've got to have the people that you can trust and that are passionate for what they do just as much as we are.

Ben:                 So within your dad's time managing the organization, one of the things that happened was really more of an enter into convenient stores at that point. Was that a big change that had happened during his tenure or was that more of yours?

Susan:              That was a big change during my father's time. He got into the convenient store business back in 1985. The first store was actually ironically down in Newcastle and has grown ever since.

Ben:                 And for those don't know where Newcastle is relative to... obviously we're in mid-coast area, Camden/Rockland. How far away is Newcastle to Rockland?

Susan:              Newcastle is like 25 minutes, south of here. It's in Lincoln county [crosstalk 00:22:43]

Ben:                 So if you're going to start your first convenient store, probably the first thought would be, "Well, why you don't you just open it up right down the street so you can keep an eye on it to figure it out?" So why was Newcastle, 25 minutes away, the one to pick on to open a new thing?

Susan:              Well, he knew the owner and the couple had a furniture store here locally in town and it just transpired that way, that he was looking to get out of having a market down there. So it was a great opportunity for my father and basically the decision was made to branch off and to diversify into the convenient stores because with the energy business it's very seasonal. Of course we're very busy from October through April, and then it drops right off. So the idea is to keep people employed year-round and to diversify, to have something else going on that compliments the energy business and with the convenient stores it made sense because the peak season, of course, is the summertime when the tourists are in town.

Ben:                 Which is completely the opposite, right.

Susan:              Yeah.

Ben:                 No, it's true. Yeah.

Susan:              Yeah, and we're very dependent, of course, on the locals because the locals are who keep us in business, but they compliment each other well because then we're selling the gasoline to the stores, we're delivering it and so we control that part of that market as far as not having competition in selling to those locations that are in our backyard, but also is to be able to keep people employed year round and to keep that cashflow, from a financial aspect, pregnant the cashflow coming 12 months a year. It's great. Our drivers, technicians we'll have them do some work in the stores, carpentry work or painting, things like that and it's great, the love it, it changes it up and it's something different for them and it works out well.

Ben:                 What would you say your grandfather Roland would be thinking about that change? Because '78 to '85, right, so your dad obviously took him some time to figure out that was a market he wanted to get into for that complimentary reason. What do you think your grandfather would have thought about that change as another line of business?

Susan:              I think my grandfather would have been very proud of my father because that's a big step to take. That's a large risk, you're getting into a totally different animal than the energy business. The retail business is totally different, even right down to the way the county works from percentage basis versus cents per gallon basis, it's so, so different. I think he'd be really proud of my father, there's no question. I have a lot of history from my family, I have a lot of... my grandfather's writings from the '50s, I have a lot of his different journals that he kept for the business and one of the things that I've learned is that he was very much passionate and thought so much about the importance of growing, that the business must grow. So that's something that my father did well, is that he grew the business and I consequently have always felt that you have to grow or go because if you don't grow you're going to get eaten up by the these larger companies.

Ben:                 Yeah, you're shrinking.

Susan:              Yeah, and so we've had a lot of acquisitions over the years because it's made sense for the company, but it's enabled us to continue to grow.

Ben:                 Now, maybe switching to you here a little bit. So your dad's in this seat and overseeing this organization and you're growing up. So as you're growing up can you talk about your experience of, "As I'm growing up in and around this business..." how has that been and then you have siblings as well. Again, kind of what happened to your father then kind of happened to you, right, is you coming back in the business. So can you give us that arc, growing up around it, in it, your feelings and attitudes towards it? Is it something that again, you wanted to get away, but being around it and whether that was going to be a possibility eventually for you to come back.

Susan:              That's a great question. Growing up I used to come to the office with my father on Saturday mornings and it was a thing, I'd come in and I was just a young girl and I'd always look under the vending machines. I was looking for coins under there, where people are going to get something to eat or they used to have, back then they would have coffee that came in poker cups out of the vending machine, hot chocolate or coffee, but I'd always get a flashlight and peek under there. We had fun as kids just running around the office and looking at people's desks. Back then it was more my father just dragging us to the office, but when we got there we were so happy to be there.

Susan:              It's kind of fun now because my boys love coming into the office and they're always asking who's going to be here and they go around and see people and whatnot, but they enjoy it. So it's one of those things growing up in it I never anticipated actually being involved in the company as far as like employment goes. I had actually thought I was going go more towards the medical field and then when I was in college I decided to study business administration and then I had a feeling then that it might be something that would work out.

Susan:              So I started kind of going that avenue and then-

Ben:                 You know what? Wait, just to interrupt for a second. Was there any pressure from your dad or did you feel maybe... maybe not just communicated directly to you, but maybe there's an indirect pressure of, "Hey, my grandfather started this, then here's my dad in it and like again, there's this force it feels like or a gravity or weight on you of, "Should I be going into this thing."

Susan:              Yeah, I think there's indirect pressure, absolutely. I knew my father needed help. He had always said, "It's very lonely at the top," and it's so true. It is because you just can't bounce a lot of issues off of people that you work with. You want to have a team that you... Like the senior management team that we have now that we do bounce issues off, but you deal with a lot of... you have a lot of responsibilities that are things that you have to take care of that other people in the company aren't able to do and the ultimate liability lies with the owner of the company.

Ben:                 Sure, it's a different role.

Susan:              So it's a whole different role, absolutely. So I went out West and I kind of coming out of college my dream job was to work for Exxon at that point, growing up in the energy, in the oil business and I met a man, Rick Trout, actually back in '99 when I was with my parents at a main oil dealers' convention up in St. Andrews, New Brunswick and come to find out he tracked me down when I was out in Seattle and he worked for Mobil and he said, "Hey Susan," he said, "I know you had this interest when we sat at the dinner table together and Exxon and Mobil are actually merging and I'm taking an early retirement, so I have no say in or no leverage basically in getting you a position with the company, but I can put your resume in the hands of the right people."

Susan:              Well, I was happy out West and I really enjoyed it out there, but it's like, "Oh, you know, maybe I'll pursue it." So I went through the interviewing process and I actually got offered a job with Exxon Mobil and they offered me, I could either choose Connecticut, Boston or Rhode Island, I had the choice and the salary they offered me was quite impressive. So my father says, "Oh my god, she's never going to come home now."

Ben:                 Yeah, right, she's on track.

Susan:              Like, "I told her to go explore, go work for someone else, but now she's really never coming back," like he thought I'd go to Portland or Boston. When I ended up in Seattle he was like, "Oh my gosh, yeah couldn't go any further away pretty much and still be in the country."

Ben:                 And how conflicting that must be for him, as he's saying, "Boy, wouldn't that be great to have Susan, my daughter, here with me and I'm happy for her as I want her to be independent, I want her to grow, I want her to go on this track and have a great career success," but that must have been tough for him to witness as well and [crosstalk 00:30:26]

Susan:              Yeah, it was one of those things that they say time is so important and kind of time is everything and it was one of those things if I'd got offered that job coming out of college, it'd been no question, I would have taken it and then my father's older, a little bit older as a parent and so I was like, "Boy, you know, maybe it's time to come back home and start learning the business from my father."

Susan:              I missed my family, I knew I wanted to come back at that point and be involved in the family business and give it a try and see if it was a good fit for everybody, but it was like, "Oh, this is a dream job of mine," and my father said, "Look Susan," he said, "I'll support you in whatever decision you make. I'd love to have you come back to the business," he says, "I can't compete with that salary, but it's your decision," and ultimately it wasn't about the money, it was about being back with my family. I figured that if I had five years with my father to overlap we'd be very fortunate.

Ben:                 What year was this?

Susan:              I came back in 2001.

Ben:                 Okay.

Susan:              Yep, so I figured if we had five years we'd be fortunate and actually 18 years in now. So we got lucky. We got lucky as far as that goes, as far as having so much time to be with each other and I feel very blessed because I see my father every day, we have a wonderful relationship, but I'm very fortunate to have him as a mentor along with Tom Hayes, who is our controller of the company for over 20 years to teach me the business. So that was more important for me, is to be with my family in the family business than working for a large corporation.

Ben:                 Obviously he knew you coming back into the organization at that point, that you were stepping in to eventually have a leadership role. That was part of the conversation I take it at that stage?

Susan:              Yeah, at that point it was the company was growing, but there were multiple people trying to do some of the same tasks. I worked in insurance in Seattle, so the first thing was to take over the insurance.

Ben:                 Sure.

Susan:              So I took over that, got that where it needed to be and then just started digging into the different departments and the first department that I managed was the service department and getting that straightened out and on the right path and then eventually just started managing more departments. My father was so happy to have help and there's a level of comfort knowing that you have a family member in the business and that he wasn't alone anymore. I mean he was alone for 20 years... Oh, excuse me, more than 20 years. He was with his father for 20 years and then actually it'd be 23 years that he was alone. So that's a long time. That's a long time to be the only person in the family-

Ben:                 As you said technology is changing every day, the business is changing, how you manage people and their attitudes towards working is changing a lot. So you're trying to stay up on everything yourself while you're running the day-to-day, so it is very difficult to just... ours personally, with our industry is, is the idea you got your head above the clouds a little bit and look around the horizon.

Ben:                 So where are things, what are other people doing, and what lessons can I learn, which is probably things happen for a reason, there's some serendipity that happens at times, is you hear, Susan, that just had really great experiences out West, saw a larger organization, how that was being run, able to get educated in Southern Maine as well, bring these ideas into our organization, because as you said, you go from 40 years running an organization on a certain path, it feels like at most organizations you need the right leader at the right time.

Ben:                 You need the entrepreneur to be the one that starts the business, they're good at starting businesses, right, that's what they've learned and that's what they're really good at. They might not be really great at scaling it to the next level and then once they get to the next level, then scaling it even more, which is fascinating I think from your story, Susan, with your family, is that it feels like you've been the right person to lead the organization at the right time.

Susan:              Well thank you. Thank you.

Ben:                 Just from an external party observing it, is that... because you could get tired and then I think the people would feel that and your employees are not going to be energized by it. You have a really great family environment, but you're also looking to always grow and applying new ideas to it. So kind of a cool little thread and as you're seeing that arc of the generations there, but I want to go back to, because again this idea is retirement success in Maine.

Ben:                 So how did your dad struggle with that? Here he is, he has you in the fold and he's thinking about his own, "Well, at some point I'm going to retire," and this is maybe a new concept to where he's seeing the pattern back to his father... Well, his father didn't really experience retirement, as he passed away in that role. So this is a new invention for him. So how did he go through that and it might be emotionally difficult for him of how he kind of removed, but how was that transition again from him in that seat out, finding his own success away from the business?

Susan:              That's tough. It's a tough transition to go through. I hear from a lot of people that a lot of people struggle with that and I can see why. It's basically letting go, it's like letting go of your baby in a sense. It's letting go of control of what you've been known for too and that identity, like I mentioned before, Ben, that's the identity that you have and then you get to the retirement age and it's like, "Okay, what's my purpose? What's my purpose in life. What is my self-worth?" Like you want to be a productive member of society, you want to do something that you feel like you're contributing, but like, "Okay, I'm not so much needed in the business anymore because Susan's got a handle on it," so that definitely has been challenging. So I try to keep him busy through the years with different projects.

Ben:                 Sure, yeah.

Susan:              Usually he gives them back to me, but it's one of those things too that my dad he's done his time and from the beginning back from 2001 I said, "Dad," whatever it was, "Give it me. Let me take care of it," and I've really tried really hard over the years like a lot of my goals between my father and myself is to reduce his stress, to try to have him do things that bring joy to his life, to not have him have to deal with challenging business issues, like let me take care of those and let him get out there and be very involved in Rotary and the Owls Head Transportation Museum and the Rockland Historical Society and things like that that he really enjoys, where it's important to have that face in the community, he's so great at all those things, he loves it, enjoys the people and let me take care of the business part of it and because of the trust that he has in me, he's been really pleased to be able to let go of those business responsibilities because he's done his time.

Ben:                 I want to go a slightly different way here for a second. You lost your mom some time ago and I know that must have been a tough challenge for him too as he's exiting from the business and your mother's not there too. So finding your own self and going, "Well the partner I thought I was going to have during these times where I was going to be separated, now those are going to be times we're going to do things together." How did he navigate that part?

Susan:              That's been very difficult. My mom was nine years younger than my father and we never expected her to pass first. We always thought naturally my father, being older, that he would probably pass first when he became an old man. So my mom passed at 67 of cancer and it's been very difficult. We're a very close family. My mother was the rock of the family like so many mothers are and I anticipated they'd be off traveling and having fun and doing things that a couple would naturally do in retirement and just having a grand old time together.

Susan:              So then all of a sudden when my mom is no longer here it's like what does my father do because they were married for 41 years and they did everything together. So it's been a real difficult, very difficult and when you look at with your 401K financial plans when you have the terminology safe harbor, I like used the term safe harbor for our family business, like Maritime the office is a safe harbor for my father and I'm so thankful that he has this place to go to. If he feels like coming into the office and checking his emails and getting a cup of coffee and walking around and seeing people and it's just his safe harbor, he has a place to get up to come to every day. So I feel very fortunate for that because not everybody has that to go to every day, but thankfully for that reason to, to give my father something to do, a place to go to other than McDonald's or those places.

Ben:                 Yeah, I want to give you a plug too on this because I've been tangentially involved kind of seeing the organization grow over time and one of the things I like about the family environment that you guys have is here you had a family tragedy with your mom and losing her to cancer, but what is your family do about it? But not only is it an extension of your family is this business and your employees and your customers and how they're all impacted by it, is that it was felt by everybody and kind of again this whole Maine idea is that you all rallied around that and you created a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Energy  4 Life in creating fundraisers around cancer research and cancer supporting of families that have been inflicted with the same illnesses and then having a walk that you just had recently for mom as well, the 5K. So Karen's Walk, right?

Susan:              Right.

Ben:                 So it's just been fun to not only just see that you did it, it's tough to just do that and you go, "Look, we're busy, we're running our business, we don't really have to do these things and if we did it maybe it's we're thinking about our mom when we're doing it," but it's been everybody's cause, has been kind of the cool thing and Curtis and I have played in the scramble several times.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 And it was fantastic, which is just great that you're playing golf, but you're in it and you're thinking about those people that have been stricken by cancer or they've had their lives touched by cancer and the money that you're raising here and you've raised how much money?

Curtis:              We've, in the last seven we've donated over $121,000 to the Maine Cancer Foundation and we've helped numerous, a lot of families here in Maine with our Energy 4 Life program, which helps families that are impacted by cancer. Thank you, Ben. It's one of those things like my mom, when she was still alive we got talking and it was a terrible place to be in and we just never expected her to get so ill and she was the perfect patient that would all the testing and keep up on everything and do everything she was supposed to do and she was misdiagnosed, so when she was finally diagnosed, it basically was Stage 4 colon cancer and I remember saying to my mom is like, "Ah, just thank god you don't have cancer. Whatever it is we'll get it figured out. Just thank god it's not cancer," and then three doctors had actually said she didn't have cancer, so we believed them, why wouldn't you believe them?

Ben:                 Sure.

Susan:              You always usually tend to trust your doctor, so it really shook us hard. So here my mom is really ill and we're talking about just, "Gosh it's just..." trying to keep her spirits up the best we could and everything and she was such a strong woman and it's like, "You know, maybe we can do something to help other people," and she said, "Maybe that you, as our family can do something to help other people so some day other people don't go through what we've been through." That's exactly what she said, like, "Maybe some day other families won't have to go through what we've been through," and I was like, "Wow," like how powerful and how unselfish-

Ben:                 Yeah. Exactly.

Susan:              ... for my mother to here she is dying and to be thinking about other people and it was like, "Oh my word," and so we got talking and she had the energy for life, like you would never even know, right till the end that she had cancer. We used to go to New York City for a clinical trial. We'd fly down there and the doctors down there they couldn't believe it, they were like, "How is this woman even physically getting down here?" and they were just totally blown away that, "How is this woman even coming down here and then shopping seven floors at Macy's afterwards? Like this can't be so," but it was, so she had the energy for life and that's where Energy 4 Life came from.

Ben:                 So I need to pause it there because I did not even realize that that was the entendre of the name, because I was thinking Energy 4 Life was-

Susan:              Not the Maritime?

Ben:                 ... you being fuel, right? That's a fantastic story.

Susan:              Yeah, it was my mother's, she had the energy for life and she obviously didn't want to be in the place that she was in and we didn't want her to be of course, and then with her logo the star represents faith, purple, the ribbon is purple, which represents all types of cancer and then the anchor is symbolic of the family business. So all of our fleet, we have a fleet of over 100 vehicles now and our fleet has a ribbon on all of it to bring awareness and then we started the Energy 4 Life nonprofit, which helps the local families that are impacted by cancer.

Susan:              We've helped people from four years old to in their 70s and boy, as we all know, like you said, Ben, the thing is nowadays everyone can relate, everybody has been touched by cancer, either family or friends and it's a cause that everybody relates to because we all have our own story and it's nice that we have the support from our community and our business partners to be able to make a difference together in our community.

Ben:                 Yeah, sure. So it's again, a really powerful thing that you guys did as a family and I didn't even realize the origins are from your mom's side was the generation of the idea, but how great it is to see that continue to grow and reshape its purpose and continue to just be impactful to the people in the state of Maine.

Susan:              Yeah, thank you. It was really my mother's vision and then we just made it happen, really in honor of our mother and it feels good to be able to help other people. You know it's tough at the same point because emotions are flying. I can see when a lot of people do fundraisers and do different events and have events and eventually they stop them at a certain time periods and I can see why, because it brings back the emotions of everything that we deal with every day but have it out there in the community and more public about it, it's tough, but it's a way to... We know the need is great and so we know we can't stop because the amount of requests that we're getting and every year growing.

Susan:              We know the wonderful work that the Maine Cancer Foundation is doing and all the impact that they've been able to have in the state of Maine and it's part of keeping my mom's memory alive for the family. I find I talk a lot about mom every day really to people, but at the events sharing stories about mom with family members and friends of hers and all that and that's really nice. I like to hear those stories.

Ben:                 What I like about that is also this idea of we have our own personal ideas of retirement success, right, and we go, "Oh well, it's going to be great because we're going to travel or we're going to do all the fun stuff," and sometimes life gives you curve balls and you don't know and we're all mortal and things are going to end at some point, but to this idea of your mom's idea of retirement success in the middle of getting cancer treatment and shopping at Macy's was having an energy for life and to perpetuate that and I want to see other people have this energy and be able to do things, is to say her idea of retirement success was that, is I want to see people living that dream even if they are having cancer or they are having other things that are affecting them.

Ben:                 So kind of a different purpose of what we're talking about, but I wanted to make sure that was a key piece of it because it's not only just that your dad was part of this business, but for a small business there's always families that are going through things together and even if you're not running the business you're supporting it in other ways, like your mom was and holding it together and she had ideas that then changed and you guys taking that dream and seeing her retirement success continue to work. So I love that tread. I thought that was a really powerful thing you've said there.

Susan:              Yeah, and I think it's true of life for people about the whole mind over matter and they told us even down at New York Cancer Center, NYU Cancer Center, that's medically proven to have a direct effect on the immune system and we all know that, but I saw it with my mother. She lived much longer than what she was anticipated to live and there's doubt whatsoever that it was because of her attitude.

Susan:              I couldn't believe it. We went down there, we flew down, we'd fly to Portland on the little jumper planes, we flew down there Monday, we'd see the doctor Tuesday morning and she was like a celebrity down there. The nurses, everybody is like, "Oh, so what are you doing this time?" and "How are you?" And other than a lady from Israel she was the furthest that came to the NYU Cancer Center, so we had fun with all them and the doctor was wonderful down there, the oncologist, and then we'd do something fun.

Susan:              So we flew in one Monday night and she's like, "I want to go to a Broadway show. I'd like to go to Phantom of the Opera," and I was like, "Oh, well that sounds fun." We'll we got out there and we'd just flown down that day, I was so exhausted. It was a wonderful show and we get out of there and it was 10:30 quarter to 11:00 that night, she's like, "Okay, what do you want to do now, Sues?" and I'm thinking in my head, "Go to bed." I was like, "Whatever you want, Mom," but it was like here's a woman who was battling cancer, very ill, even though looking at her and with her energy levels you would never anticipate it, but that was really something I think about a lot because it just shows you think how important your mind is and having positivity and just an optimistic outlook and things like that, that how important it is to your overall health and mentality.

Ben:                 So experiencing all that and seeing where your dad is today and seeing how your mom lived her life, how is it impacting you in terms of your idea of retirement success because again, you saw your dad transition away from the business, again, he's still tangentially involved and around it, but again, fast forwarding yourself in the future here and how do you see yourself being involved with Maritime Energy as an organization, how is that really impacted to your retirement success definition?

Susan:              One of the things my husband and I, Charlie and fortunately he became involved in the business back in 2011, so it's nice to have him here and he's made a huge impact in the business and how we operate, and so it's nice to go work together. We've talked about when we would like to be able to retire, sort of say. It's one of those things that, you should have a goal. Like here is when you want to be financially stable. When you think you would be able to retire. And then when you get to that point you decide are you ready to retire and not, and we've tried to figure out as far as whether you're ready or not you want to be able to invest and have the money to be able to if you want to.

Susan:              Obviously with life things can change, whether illness or what, but to try to obviously keep the family business successful until that point and then with us we have two young sons. One is six and one is seven, so they're just little guys, but our hope is someday that they may have an interest. One of our boys, our youngest, wants to drive a fuel truck-

Ben:                 There you go.

Susan:              ... and our oldest wants my job.

Ben:                 Well, you're good then.

Susan:              So they've got it already figured out, but we'll see. I will do the same thing that my grandfather did to my father and my father did to me, is that there won't be any direct pressure, but my husband and I want to give our boys the opportunity if they want the opportunity. If they don't no issues, I want our boys to follow their dreams, follow what they're passionate about, what they want to do in life because I think that's really important. You need to be happy, right?

Ben:                 Sure.

Susan:              Whatever you do you have to be happy, life is too short not to be. And if they're not interested then the that point we decide what the future holds. If they are interested then I foresee ourselves staying on a little bit longer to make sure that they're properly groomed and then can take over the reigns of the business.

Ben:                 What's kind of neat about... obviously all of this has changed from the last maybe 20 years being involved like you have here, is family structures don't need to change either. It's like, "Well, if I don't have that generation... " It used to be, "Well, I had to go sell to that larger corporation or find an acquisition person to come in and take this off my hands," and that's not the case. There's lots of different ways to either be ESOPs and other things that can happen to keep the culture that you've built. There's pressure I think from anybody if you're in any organization of like, "Well, I don't want to ruin what we've built over the generations of being here," so it's nice that you go in there.

Ben:                 If I was to go to this idea of if you're designing your dust jacket, you're at your book, right, and you've got the last chapter of your book and you're at the dust jacket of, "All right, Susan and Charlie, your husband, were able to do like in retirement," what would you vision that to be? What would be like, "Hey, we were able to do these five things and that allowed us to be fulfilled with being at peace with who we were at the end of our retirement?"

Susan:              Well, I think the first thing that comes to mind is that if one of our boys or both of them are interested I've always felt, like I started in the family business when I was 24 years old. Ironically, it was the same age my father was at 24 years old.

Ben:                 Oh really? Wow.

Susan:              I've always said if I can keep the family business alive and now my husband and I together, if we can keep this business successful and have something to leave to our sons then I'll look back at my career and say that I was successful. That's how I personally, just a personal thing and people think, "Oh, you know...

Ben:                 You're stewards, right?

Susan:              But it's a personal thing to be able to say, "Okay, here if you want it, it's yours," basically and that's how I'll look back at my career and say whether I was successful or not, is to keep this, have something for the next generation. As we know family businesses, like the third generation like last I knew it was 6% of family businesses make it to the third generation and I'm 18 years in, so obviously it's a lot lower than 6%.

Ben:                 Sure.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Susan:              You know the four generation is even lower than that and hopefully we'll get a chance to do some more fun things. Right now we're just running crazy between the kids' school and school activities and ballgames and all that, which is fun. I wouldn't have it any other way, there's things... I like to fly fish, I'd like to spend some more time fly fishing and just spend more time I guess kind of relaxing. I don't really know what that is, I have a hard time relaxing, but just if we want to do something have the means to do it. It's not that... I've always want to go to Alaska, I've always want to go to Bermuda. Those are the two places that are my bucket list to do and hopefully we'll get the opportunity and if we can take our boys along with us that's even better.

Susan:              It's one of those things that I think it's a lot different with a family business than when you work for somebody else because when you're in a family business it's so important like in the succession and what's going to happen, there's work that has to be done to figure that out and what are the wishes of people, what do you want to see happen, what is the health of the company, what's the competition doing? And people say that every business is for sale for the right price and while that may be true, that hasn't been the case for us. We get asked all the time.

Susan:              I had a guy call me up not too long ago and he goes, "Oh, there's a rumor going around that you're in discussions with someone," and I said, "Well, I guess I'm going to know the answer to your question," because he came right to me to ask me and I said, "No, we're not for sale. What you're hearing is definitely a rumor. We're not in discussions with anybody and we don't plan to be, so thank you, thank you respectfully for asking," but it's one of those, for us to keep the business in the family is important because I look back to my grandfather's time, to if we sold out to a large corporation from Canada, from Tulsa, Oklahoma or these other out-of-state companies, Chicago.

Susan:              There's a lot of companies in Maine that appear to be from Maine and they're not, they're owned by a company from out-of-state. I just mentioned a couple of the places out of Canada, but that would depersonalize what we stood for the 80 years that we've been in business and that's knowing our customers and being involved in our community and taking care of, like you said it, taking care of each other. There's a real just very caring feeling I guess and a real sentiment to be able to have the ability to do that and if we sold to a large corporation our employees would become a number, our customers would become a number and we know the money wouldn't go back into the community, that we donate now to the community and we don't want that to happen.

Ben:                 Yeah, that's commendable, it's noble, and all of that, but you go, there's so much pressure from all the small business owners out there in the state of Maine is that, is that is, "Well hey, there's fat checks awaiting you, if you ever wanted it, just go take it and cash it and call it a day," but you're standing for something more in that there's just things that aren't for sale and that's what I really loved about the whole story is there's so many things that we want to accomplish as a family and we want to get to that point, and just by if we go that road we've cashed those things in and there are things worth fighting for at the end of the day, and I think that's something where you do accomplish all the things you have without fighting for that every day.

Susan:              Right. Yeah, definitely, it's a family business you put your blood, your sweat, your tears into it, you put your heart into it every single day and you got to have that desire. You got to have that competitive edge to you in a sense because there is so much to it. It's kind of like getting back to like we talked about earlier, you have to be a jack of all trades, master of none. A lot of people can become experts in what they do and they do the same thing over and over and they become very good at it and there's a lot of satisfaction that comes out of that, and like my role in the company I have to be good at so many different things and you have to learn. Sometimes you learn the hard way because you have no other choice, but sometimes I think maybe I should have gone the medical field because at least anatomy doesn't change. I'm joking, I'm joking, I'm joking.

Ben:                 Yeah.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Susan:              But no, it's one of those things that I think for people who work for an employer you can say, "Okay, I want to retire when I'm 60. I want to retire when I'm 62. I want to retire when I'm 65," whatever that number may be, for me, just looking at our business, I find it harder. Like, yes, we can have the plan, we know in our heads what we want to do, but there's so many obstacles that can change that, so I can't say, "Hey, when I get to be 62 years old I'm going to walk away from this," because I may not be able to and I may not want to want to as well.

Ben:                 Got you.

Susan:              People should plan what they want to see happen and be financially stable by a certain again and then when you're nearing that age then decide where you're at in life and what your situation is.

Ben:                 Yeah, it's the concept of just being able to be open to it, is that you're not shutting doors on things and you're being so rigid that if those things don't happen then you don't have success and again, what I think you're doing with your business is that it's really fun to see is that, "Hey, I'm open to things. I can in a direction by having my eyes open and being able to be positioned in that way," but Susan, I want to thank you for being on the show today.

Ben:                 This was a really fun conversation for us to have and again learning a lot just from what your grandfather experienced in the business, what your dad experienced and what you're experiencing today, I think there's some really great lessons, especially around family  and how much you have to work towards melding those two worlds together of business and family and making it work, so appreciate you sharing your story. This is really fun. Thank you.

Susan:              Well thank you. Thank you both, Curtis and Ben for having me [inaudible 00:59:59] right and I think one of the big things is communication and having a plan and talking about those tough issues. Estate planning is another challenge with family businesses and being open and getting things set up properly to try to keep a business alive and I think maybe being a female I have a little edge on that whereas like, "Well let's talk about this."-

Ben:                 Yeah, well and the stories.

Susan:              ... you know because sometimes different generations don't want to talk about their wishes and what they want to see happen or they don't know or they get overwhelmed and I think that's really important in businesses, you got to have the communication with your team, but you also have the communication with the family and so what the desires are can be carried out.

Ben:                 That's why we love this podcast too idea, is there's so much about stories, right, is we all learn from storytelling and that's how generations on generations that we've... we don't write things down, we just tell that story to the next generation and having this together and having it being a recorded session with this, it's some of us, we... Like I even talked to my wife about this and she's like, "I didn't know that you liked this or that," because you start telling things and you tell people that you don't tell other people on those stories and yeah, it's just a fun medium to get to and you got to get through the struggle and we all gravitate towards the struggle, how you overcame it and where you are today. So thank you for coming on.

Susan:              Yeah, great, Ben. Thank you, appreciate it.

Ben:                 All right, Susan. Thanks. I was very excited to hear from Susan today. I've been friends with Susan for quite a few years and I'm just really impressed by her story, her family's story and I think you got that today, is there's a nice passion that she has for her family business, which I think when we think about our own kids and whatever Mom and Dad are always doing is never cool, right? So that's the theme of well hey, it must be a really tough thing to get that next generation in and here she is seeing her... obviously just tangentially, her grandfather had passed away while involved in the family business and then her dad retiring from the family business and trusting her with those reigns.

Ben:                 So kind of a neat little point and one of the purposes of having Susan here on this podcast today was around this idea of balancing your own retirement success with the needs of the family business that you're in or you own, maybe it's the first generation of family business because it's tough to, I think, find an exit point, is to go, "Well, what if I leave and I'm the one that maybe was the rainmaker that caused all these things to happen and it's tough for me to step away and if I do am I then sacrificing all those things that I've built?"

Ben:                 I think that's a tough transition point and I know Susan obviously is stepping is the third generation here, but that was a lot of the theme in getting that story from her of seeing her dad work through it and again is in retirement I think we all have a plan in how things are going to go and there's certain curve balls that her family has faced with losing her mom and their plan was that Dad was going to pass away first and Mom lives because that's what happens until it doesn't happen and that life kind of just flips us these curve balls at times and you see that work for her dad was that safe harbor word that she used and that was the place that he could get solace and he could find his purpose, he's out in the community, he's finding his purpose, but this work thing is something that he's very proud of and he gets to still be involved and see what Susan and her team is now working on.

Ben:                 Again, I was really, A, just impressed with Susan, B, just very happy to see her story and her family story and how it's working today and how they continue to grow.

Curtis:              Yeah, I echo everything you just said there, Ben and one piece for me that I find incredibly interesting about, not only just family business as a whole, but Maritime Energy specifically is these family businesses I feel like they're, certainly in my mind, that I feel like it's much harder to retire and certainly I don't know on a personal level, but she touched on it with her grandfather and her father it's all they knew, it's their baby if you will, this business is their families and I think that aspect of, you mentioned, "If I retire am I the one that's going to start the down slide?" You just don't know, so I think that extra piece of do I work until I'm 80 or do I retire at 50? It's so much more complex I think in a small family business like that.

Ben:                 And there's just so many more family dynamics, is that maybe it might be easier to be bringing somebody from outside of the family to come run that business as a second generation owner because you can hire to the skillset and Susan and we talked about this a little bit, some of it was before the show and maybe some of it within the show is what's really intriguing about a third generation business is that the first generation, as you're growing from a startup to that first stage of growth, you got to be a certain manager, you've got to be very good at being entrepreneurial.

Ben:                 Then to go well then her dad then takes over and then he's already at an established company with established revenue, but to go, "We have to evolve and we have to change into C-stores or convenient stores," well that's a completely different managerial set and now that's where she is and they're finding acquisitions and they're growing in different ways there too and keep evolving, well those are three different managerial sets across the growth spectrum and to find that in one family and they have to be that and navigate the personality things, it's probably a one in a million type thing, it's probably very difficult to find.

Curtis:              Yeah, and top of that Susan talked a little bit about her own children and that possible fourth generation and one piece she touched on is just her boys are young right now, so that may be speaking to maybe Susan has to work longer than she thought she did just until her boys or one of her boys is ready. So that whole piece it's so interesting and complex.

Ben:                 And they may never be, right? They may get there and go, "You know, hey, I always wanted to be a certain person or professional or maybe this is something I've been around and I don't share the same passion or love for it that the previous generations have," and that's okay. That's an okay thing, is all of us need to discover our own passions in life and not be preordained into something, but as she said, there's an indirect pressure that she's faced and her dad would never do that, but you still go, "Well, if I don't do this then those dreams may be going away," and there's a little bit of sadness to that sort of thing too, which is again, life happens that way.

Ben:                 Again, it's a really cool takeaway is again I think hopefully you all in the audience today appreciated Susan's story as much as we did because a very rare thing, especially in Maine to see that and see it right here and again in Rockland today, get us out of our normal area, go to the coast for a day and experience it was pretty fun, but with that, again, this is going to be Episode 4.

Ben:                 So if you go to blog.guidancepoint.llc.com/4 you can find more about our show. So Susan's website for Maritime Energy, their Facebook page, it'll be there, you'll see a little bit more about Energy 4 Life, the charity that they have for her mom including Karen's Walk 5K. So all of those resources there, so if you want to get involved in that and that story touched you at all, love to have you participate and help them with that cause to fight cancer in the state of Maine.

Ben:                 So what that, again, happy to have you all involved. If you have any questions, want to reach out, let us know, but until next time, we'll see you then.

Topics: Pre-Retirement, In Retirement, Podcast