Family Business Magazine Blog

A recent article in The Practitioner -- an online publication of the Family Firm Institute, an organization for professionals who advise and study family enterprises -- pointed out the difference between "firm survival over time" (continuity of a family business through the years) and "longevity of a family enterprise" (a family's ability to create wealth and value over generations).

The Practitioner article -- by Pramodita Sharma, the Sanders Professor for Family Business at the University of Vermont's School of Business Administration and a visiting scholar at Babson College -- argued that family enterprise success can be defined in ways other than leadership transfer from one generation to the next. "Both the creative destruction of firms and pruning of the enterprising family are integral parts of longevity of an enterprising family ....," Sharma wrote. "Recent reviews of the research on succession, governance, professionalization and performance all point in the same direction -- that one size does not fit all and the overarching numbers of ‘success' are insufficient to capture the complexity and heterogeneity of family enterprises and their pathways to success."

Family Business Magazine's cover subjects for May/June 2014, the Power family, sold J.D. Power and Associates to McGraw-Hill in 2005....Read more

Free Feature Article

America’s oldest distiller has gone from privately owned to public and back to private. What started as a favorite Colonial drink became a working-class staple. Today, the brand has gone upscale and is used in craft cocktail recipes.

When you’re the ninth generation leading a family business that served George Washington, you don’t want to be the one who screws it up, says Lisa Laird Dunn, executive vice president and global ambassador at Laird & Co. The Scobeyville, N.J., company is America’s oldest distiller and leading producer of applejack and apple brandy, an American-original drink enjoyed since before the colonies became the United States.

Laird & Co. is one of the country’s oldest family-owned businesses. Though its official founding date of 1780 makes it the 26th-oldest U.S. family business, William Laird Jr. began distilling apples into spirits in 1698. The company even survived Prohibition; in 1933, it received Federal Liquor License #1 under the Prohibition Act to distill apple brandy for medicinal purposes.

No pressure, right?

Putting pressure on the next generation is not the way Larrie Laird, the eighth-generation CEO, and his daughter, Lisa, operate. Although Lisa is an only child, Larrie never insisted she join the company. Neither will Lisa pressure either of her own children, Gerard or Laird Emilie, to take over someday.

Animals, cars and alcohol
A passionate animal lover, Lisa originally planned to be a veterinarian but changed her mind in college.

“I...Read more

Feature Video


Todd Immell, Principal, Ernst & Young LLP discusses robotics processing automation operating models for family offices. Final installment in a 4-part series.