In this issue
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.
Eric Allyn knows his way around an operating company.
Born into the family that owned the Welch Allyn Inc. medical device company in Skaneateles Falls, N.Y. for 100 years, Allyn could tell you all about ophthalmoscope design when he was in elementary school. In adulthood, Allyn ran company business units, headed specialty markets in Japan and served on the board of directors for seven years. “I was raised to be a good steward of the family business,” Allyn says.
If you don’t think onboarding new family members is important, you may want to ask Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for a second opinion. In January 2020, a year and a half after their wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced they were stepping back from their roles as senior members of the British royal family. The move was unprecedented, put a controversial spotlight on the expenses and income of royal family members, and shook the foundations of the 1,500-year-old monarchy.
Few people could have anticipated the year we’re having. We’ve experienced substantial oil price cuts, liquidity issues in the bond market, a dramatic stock market correction and ongoing economic concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thirty years ago, I was faced with a typical family business crisis. My father, the founder of our family-owned industrial fabrics company, Seaman Corporation, had passed away prematurely at the age of 55. The management team and I ran the company out of our headquarters in Ohio, while my mother and siblings worked in one of the company’s divisions in Florida. For several years following my father’s death, I had the support of my family.
Like some of you, we at MLR Media have been working remotely for months and consider ourselves fortunate that we are able to do so. A silver lining during this difficult COVID-19 pandemic has been spending additional time with my two daughters during weekdays. Both of them, for better or worse, are becoming increasingly adept with technology.
Nick Rhomberg is Denver district manager at Crescent Electric Supply Co., based in East Dubuque, Ill. In that role, he oversees five locations in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.
Rhomberg is a fourth-generation member of the Schmid family, which owns the company. He is also a member of the Schmid Family Council and is the only member of G4 working in the family business.
Bill Buchholz Jr. is a third-generation member of the family that founded Buck Services Inc., a West Chicago, Ill.-based cleaning and maintenance company that serves the school and church market.
David DeStefano has been appointed chairman of the board at Vertex Inc., a family-owned provider of tax software and solutions based in King of Prussia, Pa.
DeStefano, a non-family executive, will continue to serve as president and CEO of Vertex. He was named to those positions in 2016.
He joined Vertex as vice president of finance in 1999 and later became chief financial officer and executive vice president. Prior to joining the company, he was principal and vice president at The Mid-Atlantic Companies Ltd.
Generation of family ownership: Third.
Revenue: Approximately $2.5 billion.
Number of employees: 8,000.
First job at this company: Shredding profit and loss statements for my grandfather from as young as I can remember, probably age 5. My first official job was when I was in eighth grade. We were on a family vacation in France, and I spent two weeks working at one of our warehouses there.