Hood Brothers: Sons take on leadership roles in auto repair & vehicle sales shop
By Rocky Womack
LUNENBURG, Va. – Years ago, Glenn Hood bought out his uncle’s part in the family automotive repair business.
Several years later, he took over his late father’s side.
Much to his enthusiasm, his sons – Brent and Bryan – have returned from college to join the family business as he did.
Hood, the 58-year-old president and owner of Hood Brothers Inc. in Lunenburg, Va., says he isn’t ready for retirement.
However, he may slow down and let his sons experience the joys and sorrows of running a small business.
Upon his sons’ return, they eventually asked for leadership roles.
Most shop owners might hesitate since the sons are close in age. They may ponder, which one leads?
Wayne Rivers, co-founder and president of The Family Business Institute Inc. in Raleigh, N.C., says family business owners don’t always need to decide their children’s fate.
“Why does the owner have to make the decision?” Rivers said. “Today, the way to do it is to allow boys and girls to distinguish themselves.”
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He believes it is as much the children’s responsibility. After all, they have as big a stake as the parents do.
Rivers advises children to develop a family-approved way to carry on the business, coming up with a proposal for day-to-day duties.
If the parents recognize their children aren’t capable of leading, then the owners may consider other alternatives such as selling the shop.
“Thirty years ago, every business wanted to stay in the family, even if the kids were terrible,” Rivers said.
That, Rivers indicated, has turned around.
Today, business owners base their decision more on merit and objectivity than family loyalty. Instead, they transition over the business to non-families or employees.
If the kids can’t lead, then selling it to someone else will make more sense, Rivers said.
This is especially true since the parents have worked so hard to build it up and make it profitable.
There’s an old saying that goes, “Blood is thicker than water.”
“Money is thick, too,” Rivers said.
Hood, who was fresh out of Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. in 1983, gravitated toward his family’s automotive repair business.
“I was never told by my parents or uncles in the business that I had to do that,” Hood said. “It was my own natural inclination. I was encouraged to do whatever I wanted to do.”
The decision for Hood back then was easy.
It still is today. Instead of telling his sons who should lead, they have led based on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.
“They’ve never been encouraged to come into the business,” Hood said. “That was solely their decision. They had been encouraged to exercise what gifts they had and whatever their desire was.
“I didn’t want to dictate what they do in their lives. They’re their own person, and they’re responsible for what they do. My desire was not to produce little robotic Glenn Hoods. They are autonomous and individual.”
Parents may exert pressure on their loved ones to return to the family business. The sons say they didn’t feel much stress.
“That’s only natural that I feel some pressure,” son Bryan said. “Mom and Dad made sure that we knew they weren’t pressuring us, and they would support us in whatever career we chose to follow.”
His brother Brent agrees.
“The whole time they raised us they never forced us into the automotive business,” he said. “It was always there for us. They said they would support us in whatever we decided to do, and we really appreciate that.
“You love your family and you want to help anyway you can. There’s naturally some of that pressure, but by giving us those options — and never forcing us — made the real big difference.”
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Hood says his sons are gifted in their own way. For instance, Brent is the out front guy, who is more of a people person. His duties are mechanical repairs and retail sales.
Bryan, on the other hand, prefers to work behind the scenes such as updating the business website, managing the dealer lot, taking care of wholesale buying and selling, and doing detail paint and prep work.
Brent, 28, graduated in 2013 with a degree in auto diesel and a minor in business administration.
Bryan, 25, graduated in 2015 with a degree in business administration.
Like their father, both graduated from Bob Jones University.
Looking back, the sons admit they might have done things differently.
“I would have paid more attention when I was younger in the shop,” Brent said. “I would have taken it more seriously instead of waiting later on in life. I would have tried to learn a whole lot more, especially the knowledge of the business.”
Bryan says he also would have approached the situation differently. “I would pay more attention, just so I could do better academically in college,” he said. “In college, I tended to procrastinate some.
“I tend to struggle to focus on multiple things at one time. I’d like to make sure I prioritize and get everything done in a manner that is more efficient.”
Business owners often find that their children lead differently. Hood has noticed that in son Brent.
“He has his own ideas,” Hood said, “and we respect one another’s differences. He’s a little bit more laid back. I’m a little bit more aggressive.”
Hood tries to present a clearer picture to his sons so they can lead effectively. He imparts some wisdom from time to time, illustrates that in daily principles, and explains why he takes certain actions.
Teaching and leading haven’t always been easy. Hood says his sons must learn how to manage laborers.
“The largest problem that any business owner has is labor,” Hood said. “We live in a culture now where there’s very little character and integrity and dependence instilled in people anymore, due to the family breakdown and so forth. I think every business owner would share the same thing.”
Slowly, the boys are learning, but not without some wounds.
“They’re receiving a few cuts and bruises as they go,” Hood says. “They haven’t had to have a transfusion yet, but it’s coming.”
In the future, Hood envisions a consistent expansion for his auto repairs and car sales inventory. Of course, expansion depends on the availability of labor and how skilled they are. Hood sees the need for more technical knowledge as far as diagnostics and mechanical repairs.
Brent says he would like to gain additional training in the electronic software system, learn digital sales contracts, and fulfill online paperwork for Division of Motor Vehicle tags and titles.
In five to 10 years, Brent envisions a sales increase – along with technology expansion and updates – for Hood Brothers, so they can tackle the ever-changing technology spectrum of Internet sales and social media.
“Technology really drives the market nowadays,” he said.
Bryan envisions a website that is more user-friendly. He also dreams of helping out with sales, but it won’t come easily.
“I simply do not have the depth for that,” he said. “I don’t think I would ever be the salesperson that Brent and Dad are. I thought maybe I could be more useful, but I’ve learned we each have our strengths. And one part is not more important than the other, because it takes one part to run the other.”
No Second Guesses
Bryan and Brent haven’t questioned their decision to return to the family business. Bryan has no regrets and believes Hood Brothers is more than just a business. It’s the family’s heritage, carrying on his father’s, grandfather’s and uncles’ hard work.
Their decision comes naturally.
“A lot of families can’t work together,” Brent says. “We’re very blessed to be able to as a family. I care for the business like I would my family.
“We don’t want to fail our family. We want to keep what they started going.”