PLEASE NOTE: there is adult language in this episode. It’s only 1-2 words, but if you are listening with little ones, you may want to use headphones.
Mitchell Kaneff is the 3rd generation Chairman and CEO of his family’s company, Arkay Packaging. If you’ve ever purchased lipstick, moisturizer, or fragrance in a box, the packaging was likely created by Arkay. They’ve been in business for more than 96 years. Today, they send high-end packaging all over the world from their three locations on the east coast.
Mitchell assumed leadership of Arkay in 1996 when he was 30 years old. He gained notoriety 14 years later following the release of his book, Taking Over: Insider Tips from a Third Generation CEO. The book shares his personal story, including a letter he wrote to his father asking him leave the business, along with stories from other families who struggled through leadership transitions. The media headline at the time was Why I Fired My Father From the Family Business.
In this episode, Mitchell and I talk about what it was like to fire his dad—someone he describes as both a seagull manager and a larger than life living legend in the packaging industry. Spoiler alert: Mitchell and his dad made it through the transition unscathed, in fact, they remain best friends today. We also discuss Mitchell’s leadership style, the keys to his success, and how he is introducing the family business to his teenage sons.
Fun fact about Mitchell: He’s not only a fantastic leader, but also a rockstar! Outside of the office, he’s a bass player and vocalist with The Young Presidents. They are releasing their fourth album soon!
Topics discussed in this episode:
- About Mitchell and Arkay Packaging (2:12)
- About the book (4:27)
- Working up the ranks (9:10)
- Preparing for leadership (12:35)
- Firing dad (and remaining best friends) (19:34)
- Mitch’s leadership style: Engage, empower, share (29:03)
- Monitoring vital signs (35:57)
- Outside specialists and consultants (41:57)
- Starting succession planning (49:46)
- Having hobbies as a leader (1:02:06)
- Health, wellness, and balance for leaders (1:08:36)
- How to find Mitchell (1:11:34)
- Bonus questions (1:13:07)
Mitchell Kaneff, author of Taking Over: Insider Tips from a Third- Generation CEO, is the Chairman/CEO of Arkay Packaging, a 96-year old, family–owned and operated leader in the folding carton industry.
Under Mitchell’s direction, Arkay continues to be a market frontrunner in providing companies, such as Revlon/Elizabeth Arden, EsteeLauder, Procter & Gamble, and L’Oréal, with cutting-edge product packaging solutions. Mitchell’s appreciation for customer satisfaction and his understanding of the industry has solidified partnerships with key customers, earning Arkay “Supplier of the Year” awards several years running.
In addition to locations in Hauppauge, New York and New York City, Arkay built a manufacturing facility in Roanoke, Virginia 22 years ago and in 2008 underwent an expansion to twice its size, a testament to leadership and the quality of the Arkay product.
Mitchell lives in New York City with his twin 17-year old sons, Max and Josh, and his wife, Amy.
Notable & Quotable:
Succession planning for dummies didn’t exist, so I wrote a book. —Mitchell Kaneff #successfulgenerations
Some millennials look at a mountain and just want to go to the top. The expedition from the base to the top is all part of what you deserve when you get there. The journey makes you a strong and inspiring leader. —Mitchell Kaneff #successfulgenerations
I was coming into an organization where my dad was a living legend, an iconic figure in the industry and a pillar of confidence and strength. To step into his shoes was a challenge. —Mitchell Kaneff #successfulgenerations
In God we trust, all others bring data. —Mitchell Kaneff #successfulgenerations
You can’t start succession planning early enough. —Mitchell Kaneff #successfulgenerations
Leadership is bringing out the best in the people around you. —Mitchell Kaneff #successfulgenerations
Resources mentioned in this episode:
FREE excerpt from Mitchell’s book: Insider Tips from Mitchell Kaneff
Taking Over by Mitchell Kaneff on Facebook
American Management Association: Fundamental of Finance for Accounting for Non-Financials Managers
Taking Over: Insider Tips from a Third Generation CEO by Mitchell Kaneff
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty by Julia Flynn Siler
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