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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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