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LEADING QUESTIONS: Burd Ford flies after tragedy

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Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” where IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about their industry and the habits that lead to success.

Family-owned businesses rarely plan for the unexpected death of a founder or principal leader. Christine Burd, 41, found herself in that position in November when her husband, 43-year-old Richard Burd, committed suicide in his office at the family car dealership. Although a fixture in Burd Ford's local TV ads, Christine was not actively involved in day-to-day operations. But after consulting with her four children, she decided to continue operating the dealership and took over the leadership role as owner and president.

In the video below, Christine outlines the decisive steps she took in the days after her husband's death to preserve the dealership and get it back on the road to profitability. The tragedy led to renewed focus at the dealership, as well as cost-cutting measures that save the business an average of $109,000 per month, Burd said.



Although the reasons for Richard's suicide were not clear, Christine knew he was distraught over the slow economy and depressed sales. The dealership was nowhere near insolvency, but Richard had a "worst-case scenario" outlook. In the video below, Christine details the bittersweet feeling of piloting the dealership back to firmer ground when its troubles may not have been as dire as her husband believed.





 

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  1. Why should citizens rates increase forever to basically reduce Dukes cost to operate in the future? They will have no meter readers, no connect/disconnect personnel and will need fewer lineman to handle the same number of customers. Add to that the ability to replace customer service by giving detailed information electronically. Why do we have to subsidize the cost cutting measures of a Public Utility?

  2. In response to Sassafras, I have to ask if you relocated directly from Bloomington to Carmel? First, as you point out, Carmel is 48 square miles. Do you think it’s possible that some areas are more densely developed than others? That might explain traffic density in some places while others are pretty free moving. Second, your comment “have you ever been to Chicago--or just about any city outside of Indiana?” belies your bias. I don’t know, Sassafras, have you never been to Nashville, Columbus, OH, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Phoenix? They’re not a lot different in density than Indy. One more thing…I understand these comment sections are for expressing opinions, so those of us just looking for facts have to be patient, but you mention “low-density” Indy. How many cities in the US comprise 400 square miles with about 10% of that still being agricultural? Those facts certainly can impact the statistics.

  3. With all the past shady actions of Duke with utility regulators, one wonders do they really need such a huge amount? Concerned regulators not protecting ratepayers from the aggressive Duke monolith.

  4. I thought that had to be the way it was but had to ask because I wasn't sure. Thanks Again!

  5. I could be wrong, but I don't think Butler views the new dorm as mere replacements for Schwitzer and or Ross.

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