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Construction Genius

Mar 12, 2019

According to the United States Department of Commerce; only about 30% of family businesses survive into the second generation, 12% are still viable into the third generation, and only about 3% of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond.

My interview this week is with Justin White CEO of K&D Landscaping out of Watsonville, CA.

His parents started the business in 1986 Now: Siblings  Justin (CEO), Shane (COO), and Kelsie (VP Marketing) are  in the business.

With the 2nd generation at the helm the business has grown from $1.5m in 2011 to over $5m today, with a 2030 goal of being $30m with 300 employees.


In this episode we cover:

  • [01:20] The time Justin was thinking about quitting his family business
  • [04:23] What Justin focused on during the transition to becoming the leader of the business.
  • [07:25] How to balance control and leeway, in a family business, when transitioning between two generations
  • {08:45] The impact of a leader’s demeanor and attitude the company.
  • [09:34] Why he came into the family business in the first place, and how he fell in love with landscaping.
  • [11:22] His (non-financial) motivations for being an entrepreneur.
  • [12:31] How to make the mindset shift from building projects to building people
  • [13:44] How Justin gained the respect of the old school workers
  • [14:34] Staying patient while working in the field for four or five years
  • [16:09] How Justin’s dad tested him with a challenging project
  • [18:11] Justin’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal
  • [19:31] How Justin aims to accomplish the goal through a focus on
    • recruiting,
    • positioning,
    • and developing great people
  • [21:40] How to handle working with siblings in a family business:
  • Balance each other’s strengths,
  • get on the same page and present a united front,
  • get a mediator if you need one
  • [25:21] Three words of advice for the second-generation family business owners:
  1. Be patient
  2. Find Mentors and be humble
  3. Set Goals

[27:46] Justin’s vision for his 30-year legacy

  • An family of companies that give the everyday guy a chance to be in charge
  • An outdoor facility/space for kids and families

This episode is brought to you by the Bullet Proof Succession Assessment

What Will Be Your Legacy?

Are you ready to step away from your business?
Or are you stuck indefinitely?

Which statement describes you best?

  • I'm secure. My hard work will pay off. My plan is solid; things are looking good.
  • I'm challenged. I need to keep working in order to achieve my goals. 
  • I'm nervous. What if I have to work until I'm 70?
  • I'm scared. All my hard work might go to waste. 
  • I'm sinking. My business is a ball and chain. 

Take this FREE assessment. In just 5 minutes, find out if you should be confident or worried about your company's future.



K&D Landscaping Web Site

Landscape Management Article on Generational Transition

Justin White

Free Succession Assessment