Owen Family—January 29, 2012
Amanda Owen Cooper
I was surprised by the discussions yesterday. Having to think beyond financial value to see the different kinds of capital represented by our business and our family helped me broaden my perspective. I want to honor what my parents and grandparents achieved, but I guess I'm coming to see that we don't have to follow in exactly the same path. What we do need to do is make sure we don't waste all our capital. That was the surprising part of the discussion—once we realized all we had at stake, that we could plan our own future, and that we could be stronger together than apart, we began to think more collaboratively.
I am concerned about the trust for Alfred. As trustee, I have a fiduciary obligation to him. We acknowledged that an element of our shared purpose for the core capital is that it will serve as a safety net. But Alfred needs a different safety net from the rest of us. Yes, we depend on the business (particularly Mike and Martha) but we have other sources of income besides dividends to cover our needs. Alfred's entire future care is riding on the business. I raised the question of whether it might make sense to redeem out the shares held by Alfred's trust and then invest the proceeds in a very stable investment fund. That would protect the nest egg for Alfred while giving Mike and Ryan more room to take some risks to grow ...