Family Business In Crisis When Everyone Quits

The year was 1989. Mark Moeller was in the process of buying out his father's ownership stake in the family's store—R.F. Moeller Jeweler, St. Paul, Minn. Mark, then 37, had big plans. He firmly believed the store—then an eight-employee operation that generated about $750,000 annually in sales—could become the preeminent jeweler in its region. And he was convinced that a new way of motivating employees would ensure the business's growth. With the help of Boston consultant Robert Sprague, whose speech at a St. Paul business association meeting had helped him envision the future, Mark revised the store's compensation system. The new pay policy made the employees uncomfortable. To them, the risks seemed too great. They were being shifted from a base salary (ranging from $16,000 to $25,000) with an annual Christmas bonus to a much smaller base ($12,000) plus 20% of the gross profit

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