Planning succession is one of the greatest challenges business owners face — even more so for smaller companies where the owner, founder, CEO or head honcho often remain integral to daily operations. Finding, grooming and handing over control to the right person or set of people requires careful forethought and deliberate action over years. How you approach that all-encompassing process is at the heart of building a legacy.

That’s the core message in “Heroic Ownership,” a book by Scot Hunsaker, formerly of the legendary aquatic design firm Counsilman-Hunsaker. “The question for you is simple,” he writes in the book’s intro. “What will your end be?”

It’s a question he answered not all that long ago for himself and his company, an organization he helped build for over 24 years and led for 13. In 2012, Hunsaker successfully turned over control in a transaction in which he sold the company to his employees, a process he says took years. In the time since, he has extensively lectured and written about how he did it and the vision, values and process necessary to make a successful transition.

As he points out, planning for the end of company ownership and control is tough for many people because we are naturally adverse to thinking about finality. In order to create the kind of legacy you ultimately want, he explains, it’s crucial to begin the process years, even decades, in advance.

“We create or own legacy whether we mean to or not,” he writes. “Why not be intentional about it?”

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The book is organized in two parts. Part I looks at the principles that comprise the foundation of a legacy, with chapters that cover “decision cascades,” creating the future and the importance of the people in your organization. Part II describes how you make your legacy, including chapters on authentic conversation, choosing your “leadership bench,” transferring knowledge and more.

Coming from the aquatics industry, Hunsaker’s perspective should be particularly resonant with pool and spa professionals, especially those who run companies and are approaching retirement age. In an even greater context, he makes an elegant argument how considering the end of your career should ultimately inform your principles and methods long before the day you finally step away.


Eric Herman is Senior Editor of AQUA Magazine.