A power shift at a family-owned Rochester operation has new leaders charting the course forward.
Joe Powers, the well-known founder of Powers Ventures, recently announced that his son Nick Powers is taking the reins as president, with Joe Powers stepping back into a less hands-on chief executive role.
The elder Powers also established a leadership team to support the new president. His son Joseph Powers Jr. is now the vice president of Powers Ventures. Melissa Powers Walker, Joe's daughter, continues to serve as director of sales and operations at Mayowood Stone Barn.
Nick Powers said he is well-prepared for the new role.
“The big thing is the way he (Joe Powers) set up training me. I started in the prep kitchen, went to the cook line, bartended, catered ... Basically worked in every facet of the business. It was a tremendous gift …,” he said.
The Powers family worked with the OPUS College of Business at the University of St. Thomas and the Family Business Center to map out the succession plan..
After watching Nick Powers lead the company through the difficult year of 2020 and make difficult decisions, he talked to Nick’s siblings about promoting him to president.
“I wouldn’t make that decision without their blessing. They both said, ‘“Absolutely. He deserves it. He’s the one that should lead the company,’” said Joe Powers, sitting with Nick in their Canadian Honker restaurant.
The new role places Nick Powers in charge of the six businesses under the Power Ventures umbrella – Canadian Honker Restaurant, Canadian Honker Catering, Rochester International Event Center, Pinnacle Catering, Mayowood Stone Barn and J. Powers at the Hilton. The businesses employ 110 full and part-time employees, along with seasonal workers.
What will Joe Powers' role be now that his three children are leading the company? Still sitting in the leadership meetings now run by Nick Powers, will he still have final say on decisions?
“I’ve been in food service for my entire life, since 15. About 40 years of working 60 to 70 hours a week … I’ll never retire. I love what I do. I'm looking at other ventures … to plant some new seeds with some other people,” said the 59-year-old Powers. “I would prefer to not have the final word in company decisions. I’m not afraid to get out-voted, but I will challenge people.”
The 34-year-old Nick Powers said his father and the rest of the family set a good example to follow. After his father learned the hard lesson of putting work first, the leadership team keeps work separate and puts family first. For Nick, that means his wife, Kelly, and their four children.
“The foundation is how I was brought up. My parents taught me about hard work,” said Nick Powers. “I was taught that money shouldn’t be the motivator. You need to love what you do.”
He also learned from the example of his grandparents, James and Bunnie Powers, who stressed the importance of faith, family and giving back to the community.
Of course, Powers Ventures is more than just the family. Both Nick and Joe Powers credit their employees for their success.
“It’s all about good food and good service. Take care of your employees and your customers. Our model has always been that our employees are first, even before our customers,” said Joe Powers.
Acknowledging that taking over in the wake of such a traumatic year might seem like a tough time for a transition, it doesn’t bother Nick Powers.
“The timing couldn’t be better, in my opinion. We’re really in a rebuilding stage. That’s basically what we’re focusing on for 2021 – rebuilding, getting stronger, doing what we do,” he said.