It’s one thing to run a business on your own. Along the way, there are challenges, setbacks, victories, celebrations, pride, and a whole lot of other emotions and milestones. 

It’s quite another thing to run a family business as a couple. Every victory dance, unexpected disappointment, and nerve-wracking moment spent lying awake at night wondering if you made the right business decisions takes on a whole new flavor. 

It is, among other things, wonderful. 

This is a brief taste of how Scott and Meredith Keating, owners of Randall Beans, found their footing as a power couple in charge of a century-and-a-half-old family business and catapulted it to success. 

What It Really Means To Own A Family Business

Neither Scott nor Meredith came into the company knowing what to expect from owning the business. Yes, Scott was a long-time MIT professor who taught students impactful lessons on running businesses. And sure, Randall Beans had been in Meredith’s family since her father, W.O. (Bill) Mashburn, took it over in the 1970s from the original Randall family owners. On paper, they were already experts. 

But knowing, teaching, and growing up around successful business practices was just the first step. The real life lessons began when the couple acquired their first business loan and purchased the company from Meredith’s father’s estate in 2011. 

You can read about the history of the company in more detail on our About Us page, but for now, suffice it to say that the couple almost immediately started making positive changes to policies, practices, and technology that modernized and streamlined many aspects of the business. 

However, it is the impact they made on the company’s culture that Scott and Meredith speak of with the most satisfaction in their voices. As they learned and grew as company owners, they also grew closer to their employees who keep the factory running day in and day out. 

Below are some of the cultural aspects Scott and Meredith are most happy to have cultivated in their close-knit family business. 

Teamwork and Partnership 

Have you ever built a piece of Ikea furniture with your significant other? If so, then you understand a microcosm of how relationships can thrive—or fall apart—under stress. 

Fortunately, Scott and Meredith are a couple that draws closer together during challenging times, rather than pulling apart. Their partnership is and has always been the backbone of their success. 

In the early years after the couple purchased Randall Beans, Meredith handled the sales and marketing aspects while Scott was primarily in charge of the day-to-day managerial decisions and administration. Scott was doing this at the same time he was still teaching at MIT, so the juggling act was significant, but rewarding. 

Together, they deployed new accounting and cloud-based enterprise management systems that made it much easier for Scott and Meredith to run the business remotely. They also improved their packaging, made several efficiency upgrades, and cemented their ongoing partnership with Kelley Bean, Randall’s one and only supplier. 

This partnership had to be rock solid; Scott and Meredith tried other suppliers, but Kelley was the only bean supplier to meet their strict standards for quality and reliability. 


When Scott and Meredith first took over the business, they were blessed to walk into an already functional, experienced team. Most of the staff had been there a long time and were well-equipped to keep the factory running at full steam while Scott and Meredith adjusted to their new roles. 

In fact, it took a while before the new owners realized just how much the rest of the team was actually handling. 

Every Thursday, Scott had a weekly check-in call with the team to see how things were going. And every Thursday, he received the news that everything was great and operations were running smoothly. 

This was either the best, most well-oiled machine Scott had ever encountered, or his team was simply handling everything that needed to be done and deciding not to bother him with the details when things broke down and needed to be repaired. 

Upon further investigation, Scott realized that he wasn’t actually the owner of the most perfect manufacturing facility in the world. His team was just very good at fixing whatever needed to be fixed and getting back to business! 

While these are certainly admirable qualities, Scott knew better than to think it would always be this smooth. At some point, his experienced team would retire, and he would need to know the ins and outs of the manufacturing processes so he could guide future employees to fill his previous staff’s shoes. 

Slowly, Scott and Meredith convinced the team that it was perfectly okay to come to them with problems. They were there, happy to help, and ready to get hands-on when necessary. Little by little, the communication channels opened until Scott and Meredith became immersed in the day-to-day work lives of their employees, as well as the challenges they faced and the instances of (sometimes ingenious) problem-solving that happened every day on the floor.

Now, they do a conference call with the team every single day and encourage each individual employee to come to them with questions, concerns, and ideas. It’s a world away from how most employees of the previous generation expected to do business, but Scott and Meredith are very pleased by how the team has responded. 

Traditions—Old and New

Whenever new owners take over a company, it’s natural for employees to feel a little apprehensive. After all, when a company has passed through several generations within a family and is then taken over by an entirely new family, employees often assume this means other significant changes will be coming down the pipeline. 

Will their jobs stay the same? Will they have new responsibilities? Is everyone going to get along?

In other words: Will work become more or less enjoyable under the new ownership?

Meredith had grown up around her father’s business, and she understood that some people had been working there for decades. She knew, therefore, that she and Scott would have to strike a delicate balance between completing all the changes and upgrades they had planned, and leaving room for employees to stay in their comfort zones in regard to traditions that really mattered. 

Some aspects of the business—such as the antiquated accounting system that required paper checks to be hand-signed in person every payday—had to go. Some family-style traditions—such as always turning to Randy when the pipes needed to be fixed instead of hiring someone new and unknown—could stay. 

New traditions, and the trust that comes with them, needed to be built. Again, the primary goal was to create a culture of mutual respect and understanding. 

Ultimately, this took the form of in-depth conversations with the staff where Scott explained why specific changes were happening—and what things would be like in the future. Just as Scott and Meredith expected their employees to communicate with them when a process went awry or something needed to be addressed, Scott did his very best to convey his knowledge of running a business back to the employees. 

Meredith fondly recalls how, at least once a week, Scott would make a point about some aspect of the business that had everyone saying, “Oh, I never would have thought of it like that.” 

So, slowly but surely, Scott has shared his wisdom and guidance, Meredith has shared her empathy and love for her father’s business, and the rest of the team have shared their goals, their ideas, and tidbits of their daily lives. If you think about it—doesn’t that sound a bit like a family?