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Last Update: Monday September 20, 2021

Key Idea: Keep On Keeping On

When Eddie died, Darlene was ready, willing and able to lead the company.  Their son Jesse runs the recycling division.

Key Question:


Darlene ready to take over the leadership role when her husband died because she had been by Eddie's side since the startup.   While she worked with him, he was open and taught her about all of the operations.

How do you go about the task of letting others take over?

A: Pam McNair, founder of Gadabout Salon and Spas says we need to delegate with design. By this she means prepare. Think hard about the job to be delegated and about the person to whom you will delegate.

Using the same analytical skills she developed as a hairdresser, Pam is able to turn jobs over to people on her terms who are best suited to the task. Just like she used to make her clients look good, Pam studies her employees then designs jobs that will make them not only look good but feel good too.

What is the ultimate delegation task?

A: Putting a succession plan in place which means you eventually replace and fire yourself. Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's -- the company that makes the best pretzel you have ever tasted in your life -- said she wants her company to out live her. She has acted on her goals by recruiting Sam Beiler and naming him President of the company.

He is qualified first because she trusts him. They both used this most important word when talking about the success they have had at passing the leadership torch. The inability to place trust in another person is probably the biggest reason entrepreneurs fail to put a leadership succession plan in place.

Most companies die with their founder or they die when the founder decides to quit working. Some would throw these types of companies into a category called "lifestyle companies." In other words, the company was a vehicle for the founder to live a certain kind of life. We disagree. Most small businesses would-could-and-should have a life separate and apart from the founder. If the founder would first learn to trust, it opens the way so the founder could find people in which to place that trust. And the business, with all its customers, suppliers, and employees, should continue to perfect relations, systems, and their contributions to their community and world. Happily this is the case with Anne.

Before he became president of Auntie Anne's, Sam spent years in the field. He and his wife became Auntie Anne's franchise owners in 1989, and then he became an employee of the corporation working with franchise owners. He was perfectly groomed. You might wonder about his last name being the same as Anne's. The two are cousins. The fact that Anne and Sam are related could bring up the seemingly endless discussion around family-business issues. Our observation of this situation is that endless communication internally at headquarters and externally to the franchisees has made the family relation a non-issue. Sam worked his way to the top. He was not given anything that he did not earn simply because his last name is Beiler.

Think about it

When was the last time you delegated a task? Are you happy with the results? What could you do to improve? What keeps you from passing the torch? Do you have someone you are training that can move into your place soon? Are you nervous that if you pass the torch, you won't have anything to do? Do you think your life might feel empty if you don't have to be in the office everyday?

Clip from: Jet-a-way

Host-producer, Hattie Bryant, with Jesse Jeter, the son of the founders

Boston: In this episode of the show we take you inside Jet-A-Way, a recycling company for construction and demolition waste, commercial waste, and recycled paper. They are also a transportation company to pick it all up and, then when it is all sorted, to bring it to refinement centers and sanitary landfills.  You'll meet Darlene Jeter and her family. 

Darlene and her husband have been recognized by their community and by the nation for their achievements.

With over $10 million in sales and 50 employees, this business has been in  operation since 1969.  Darlene has endured enormous setbacks -- the death of the love of her life,  her husband and business partner -- and major swings in the construction business in Boston. It is a dusty, tough industry. There is a lot of heavy metal -- trucks, tractors, and front-end loaders. Darlene not only survives, she thrives with grace and dignity.

Darlene Jeter has tenacity. No moaning, blubbering, sniveling, whimpering or whining; she gets the job done and then gives back to her community.

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Jet-A-Way, Inc.

Darlene Jeter, CEO

47 Kemble Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

Visit our web site:

Business Classification:
transportation, waste management, recycling

Year Founded: 1968

Keep On Keeping On

HATTIE: (Voiceover) When Eddie died in 1991, Darlene had to step into the top position at a time when the company was in trouble.

DARLENE: If it wasn't for Jet-A-Way, I don't know what I would have done. I needed that. I needed something. I was still young. Then the construction industry took a turn in the early '90s. We were getting, I think, $700 for a 30 yarder. Now it's down to like $350, $400.


DARLENE: Way down at fixed debt whereas before it was variable. So anyway, what a challenge, but it was OK. You know, I...

HATTIE: Could you sleep at night?

DARLENE: Some nights I missed. I would be here at 4:00. When the trucks started at 4, I was here with them. And I'd go over with John at the cashier's office and talk to him and watch the trucks until we opened this office. But it's like it gave you the energy to keep going.

JESSE JETER (Darlene's Son): We're pretty proud in this operation because at this point, we're dealing with the international market, unlike the other parts of our operation.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Jesse, one of Darlene's four sons, shows us the paper operation.

JESSE: We are sorting here the white ledger out of the material ...

HATTIE: Now what if it has lines on it like this? Is that OK?

JESSE: Not a problem.

HATTIE: This looks like somebody's study notes from Harvard.

JESSE: You know that's no good.

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