All in the Family
Third-generation CEO takes company to new heights
According to studies by Family Business Review, only 12 percent of family-owned businesses will be viable into the third generation, and just 3 percent will operate at the fourth-generation level and beyond.
Third-generation company Moorehead Communications, however, has soundly beaten those odds. Current CEO Scott Moorehead (BSM ’01) has grown his family’s business by more than 750 percent since taking the helm in 2008.
How did Scott and his forefathers succeed when so many other multi-generation family businesses fail?
What is now Moorehead Communications began as Moorehead Electric in 1937 — founded by Scott’s grandfather, Edward Moorehead, in Marion, Indiana. Scott’s father, Steve Moorehead (BSM ’62, BSEE ’62), took over in 1969 and changed the name to Moorehead Communications to include phone service. The company’s cellular division was launched in 1991 and today the company is operating under the parent company RoundRoom LLC as the largest Verizon Premium Wireless retailer in the U.S.
Boiler from birth
Growing up in a Boilermaker family, Scott was never a stranger to the West Lafayette campus. So, when it came time for him to choose a university, he says the decision was easy.
But attending the Krannert School was a bit more difficult. Scott admits that he didn’t quite fall in love with business during his first year. “Some of the prerequisite coursework is meant to weed you out, and they almost got rid of me because I was losing interest,” he says.
But something his parents said the summer after his freshman year kept him going.
“They had contracted with a local area networking company and had me working pulling cable,” he says. “They told me that if I didn’t get my degree from Krannert, I might end up doing it for the rest of my life. So I decided it was time to study harder.”
It was just the wake-up call Scott needed, and once he got into upper-level management courses, he found his passion. “The foundation that Krannert built gave me a jump-start and put me on a path to success,” he says. “It gave me a competitive advantage.”
Scott’s Krannert education wasn’t the only thing that prepared him for running a business ranked among the 500 fastest-growing private companies by Inc. magazine.
He needed to prove himself not only to his parents, but also to the employees of the company. His parents assigned him the challenge of working in every position in the company so that he could have a strong understanding of each job and how it affected the bottom line.
“I worked in nearly 30 different positions for one week at a time,” Scott says. “I learned the challenges of each job and better understood the perspective of the employees.”
After gaining an understanding of the value of employee feedback and taking over as CEO in 2008, Scott implemented a program connecting team members directly to the owners so they can post opinions online and get responses directly back from the executive members of the team.
“The bottom line is that happy employees make happy customers — both of which make for a healthy business,” he says.
Scott doesn’t just concern himself with making his employees and customers happy — he also makes sure his company is working to improve health and education in local communities, including pledging more than $1 million to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and starting a program to give away backpacks full of school supplies for children across the country. Throughout the year, TCC stores also participate in a program where customers can round up their transaction to an even number, the difference benefiting teachers in the local community.
“Our ability to form a social contract and run our business with strong ethics and citizenship is part of our success,” he says. "It definitely has a Purdue factor to it.”