Global's heavy leadership transition featured by Corp! Magazine

Tragedy causes daughter to alter her life's path, take control of family business

Back in 2020, Bill Korreck was happily running his successful environmental cleanup business, Global Environmental, a remediation service provider and contractor primarily performing pollution cleanup, out of its Holly, Mich., headquarters. Meanwhile his daughter, Alaina Zeigler, was forging her own path, running a real estate investment and development company a couple of hundred miles north in Traverse City. While she had dabbled in the family business a little, Zeigler was perfectly content to be on her own journey and saw no real long-term role for herself at Global.

But in October 2020, Bill Korreck died suddenly, and Zeigler found herself fighting and soon giving in to a sense of responsibility that eventually led her into the owner's chair at Global Environmental. "I'd been involved in varying capacities throughout the years, both in the field and in the office... It didn't feel like it was going to be my path forever," said Zeigler, now Global's owner and president. "My dad was always really supportive of pursuing other opportunities and passions, so I did that for a time. When he passed it ultimately came full-circle, and I kind of brought in all my outside experience and my experience with Global previously to this role as the owner and president."

Korreck left what Zeigler said was "a stable job" to establish Global Environmental in December 1992. He and the "few other partners" immediately started searching out clients and projects, deciding to put off things like a company health insurance policy until they could get up and running. Zeigler calls it "ironic," because she was born less than a year later. "Things were really in their infancy with the company," Zeigler said. "He used to joke to me I was the $10,000 baby" because none of the founders had health insurance at the time. So, I was an out-of-pocket baby."

Immediately following her dad's passing, Zeigler said, there was "a really big void that was created." Korreck had always been at the helm of his companies since 1992. While he had other key people, he was "always the end-all-be-all decision maker," his daughter said. His sudden loss left a "really big gap," and forced a temporary pause where, even though everyone was capable and worked on their projects independently, there was this "who makes decisions now?" kind of pallor over the operation. "I was able to immediately put some of my side work and my independent work on hold... I stepped in immediately," Zeigler said. "I sat with everyone and said, "I'm going to need a beat to get things figured out and get my feet wet again... but I'm here, and rest assured I'm going to be here to help navigate this insane path we're now all on." There were ways to get it done other than buying the company herself. She could have sold it outright, put together an employee stock-option plan or found a private buyer. Ultimately, she decided, the best decision was to buy it herself.

"It took really six months to get my arms back around everything that was going on... It's a complicated business," Zeigler said. "It took some time for me to feel confident I was going to be able to do this long-term. It took awhile for me to feel comfortable and confident in doing that. "It was really that six-month initial period, plus just dealing with the loss of my father," she added. "We were really close, so that was difficult in its own right. It was difficult trying to navigate it... nobody tells you how to buy a family business from a probate court in college."

Zeigler took the time to talk about her ascent at Global Environmental, and other issues:

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