It seems a good while ago when two young sisters, Megan and Cassidy, entertained themselves sorting bolts at the Ace Hardware Store in Portales, NM, while their parents worked. Today, those two girls and their husbands operate that Ace Hardware Store, two Ashley Home stores, one in Portales, one in Clovis, Enchantment Vineyards in Portales, and real estate. They now represent the third generation of the Merrick Family business. The Merrick family most recently opened Enchantment Vineyards, a wine production facility and tasting room in Portales.
The Parker Center for Family Business has recognized The Merrick Family of Portales, New Mexico as one of its businesses of the year. The Parker Center is affiliated with the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management. The award will be presented to the Merrick Family at the Parker Center’s Annual Symposium held November 2, at the Hotel Andaluz, in Albuquerque.
The Parker Center judged the New Mexico business nominees on the basis of the nature of the business, the extent of family involvement, planning for the future, governance, communication, family equity, leadership, succession, and challenges. The Parker Center was founded to help family owned firms with issues ranging from succession to management and leadership. The Parker board has a wide-ranging expertise, from law, banking, advertising, tax, insurance and accounting. Each board member has committed to a number of free hours of service to family-owned businesses.
Although the Merrick family business interests are wide ranging, their management is concentrated in leadership of sisters Megan Hamilton, who works with Rustin Self, and, and her sister Cassidy Self who works with Robert Hamilton. Although involved in different businesses, communication about cross selling, and day to day problems are handled easily by these teams. Once a month, cell phones are put away, and financial results are analyzed in a family meeting. While these can be tense situations, communication is free and open.
The Merrick family’s grandfather, Charlie Horn, began Surplus City store in 1958, which later became Trader Horn’s True Value. Max and June Merrick took this business over in 1984. In 1992, the family began a licensee store with Ashley Home stores, replacing a Factory Direct Store that they had operated for 14 years. An additional Ashley store was added in Clovis in 2013. A new direction and management challenge began in 2015 with the planting of five acres of grapevines and the ground breaking of Enchantment Vineyards. The tasting room opened in March, 2018, serves 17 varietals of wine, and now ships to 43 states. The wines won awards at the Finger Lakes International Competition in 2018. Max Merrick says that “our whole family is passionate about this business and of all the compliments and awards in our first year validates the good feelings we have about it. It’s been a pipe dream for quite a long time.”
Megan Hamilton is a NM licensed general contractor, and, is now enrolled in the wine program at the University of California at Davis. She has a passion for the construction and hardware businesses, which she runs with Rustin Self. The furniture businesses are run by Cassidy Self and Robert Hamilton. A good portion of the family business is in construction and real estate. The Ace Hardware stores supply all types of premade and measured cabinets, flooring and all types of hardware. They enjoy the fact that the Ace Hardware Store represents the core of the Portales community, but they have products in furniture retailing that have a wide market area from their retail base in both Portales, and Clovis, NM.
It can be noted that the third generation of the Merrick family does not take their responsibilities lightly. About leadership and succession, Megan Hamilton wrote, “We all know that success is never certain, while change is inevitable. Our generation has accepted full financial responsibility and there is an absolute understanding that if at any point, the businesses can no longer fund the buyout, we are personally responsible…we view the business as our parents’ retirement, one that they have worked tirelessly for and fully deserve regardless of our personal decisions, successes or failures.”
The Parker Center will also award two other New Mexico family owned firms with similar honors. Hasse Contracting Company is in its fourth generation of family leadership and employs over 100 in bridge construction and maintenance, cement, polyester cement, and pile driving. It is headed by Travis and Christian Hasse, and it is headquartered in Albuquerque, NM.
The St. James Tea House of Albuquerque is a second-generation business headed by Mary Alice Higbie and her son Daniel Higbie. For over l8 years, they have worked to create an award-winning spirit of excellence in their 66 employees. They have instituted a guild system, where each employee can track progress from apprentice to Master, an open book system to report financial results to managers, and Cornerstones, where for l5 minutes prior to a shift, each employee is required to dig into their aspirations, and details of the day.
For more information on the Parker Center, please visit https://parker.mgt.unm.edu
For more information on the Merrick Family, please contact Scott Knauer at Sknauer@mac.com
or (505) 693-1957.
By /Charles Padilla
PCFB 505 660 2855