In this issue
Young people prefer to work for a family company rather than a non-family company—so long as it is owned by their family. However, a recent survey indicates that many students—even those whose families have businesses—have reservations about joining family firms. Highly qualified graduates, the survey suggests, often equate family firms with limited career opportunities, lack of objective performance reviews, and competitive weaknesses.
Sale of the family business is an event that frequently precipitates unexpected feelings and outcomes. Often owners who put their companies on the market have different goals and perspectives than their sons and daughters. And often they do not realize how strongly their offspring may want to hang on to the legacy the business represents. A surprising one-quarter of the children of family business owners who sold their companies in the 1980s have tried to buy them back, according to a 1993 study of 400 scions by Prince & Associates in Stratford, Connecticut.
William Bergstein was determined that his plastic lawn-ornament business ultimately wind up in the hands of flesh and blood. Bergstein started ArtLine Inc. in 1963 with financial help from three outsiders and expanded the Chicago firm into a thriving concern. Twenty-one years later, when he was 55 years old, he had a major heart attack. He realized he needed to plan for succession.
In the past two decades a new type of professional has been knocking at the door of the family business market, offering to lead struggling family firms toward the Promised Land of business continuity and family harmony. The rise of the family business consultant has been baffling to many business owners who might want professional help but are puzzled about just what a family business consultant does and how to find one who is qualified and right for their family.