In this issue
Dublin Cleaners got its start in 1934 when Bernard Butler cleared out half his Columbus, Ohio, barbershop to open a dry cleaning store. He soon realized the cleaning operation was more profitable. Hudson Cleaners, as it was known, added a dry cleaning plant, multiple retail locations and a delivery service. By the 1960s Hudson had ended deliveries and transitioned to a primarily wholesale business, cleaning tuxedos for a tuxedo company and clothes for other dry cleaners that lacked their own equipment.
In a letter to James Madison dated September 6, 1789, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "[T]he earth belongs in usufruct to the living . . . the dead have neither powers nor rights over it." But contrary to Jefferson's suggestion, in multigenerational family businesses the earth often belongs to the dead.
Landaal Packaging Systems, a family enterprise based in Flint, Mich., focused almost exclusively on the corrugated box industry for more than half a century. After dramatic changes in both the family and the marketplace, the family began to shift its identity away from the box industry to focus more on the family itself. The U.S. corrugated paper industry was losing the battle with China, resulting in ever-shrinking margins and consolidation of firms. The family had prematurely lost three of the four siblings in the second generation.
Enterprising families are waiting too long to integrate the next generation. Even though succession is arguably the most widely covered topic in the field of family enterprise, many of my clients (and those of my colleagues) are still missing crucial opportunities to engage the next generation early in the game.
The Voice of the Rising Generation: Family Wealth and Wisdom, by James E. Hughes Jr., Susan E. Massenzio and Keith Whitaker • Wiley/Bloomberg Press, 2014 • 146 pp., $40
Attendees at Transitions West 2014 explored ways to honor their family companies' past successes while securing the future of the family enterprise. The conference, held Nov. 12-14 at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey in California, drew 220 participants; 76 families were represented.
Generation of family ownership: Fifth.
About the company: We're in 17 states, and in 2013 we sold 2,700,000 barrels. We have 1.2% of the U.S. beer market.
Number of employees: Between 290 and 300.
Years with the company: Probably 50 years, but not consecutively. For 11 years I worked in the beer distributing business, at another company.
At age 13, Scenic Root knows her way around the Root family office. In fact, she has a desk there.
Under the tutelage of her father, Preston Root—president of the Root Family Board of Directors—and her mother, Lynn Root, Scenic has been engaged in dialogue about her family's legacy and its current business activities. She participates in family meetings and has been learning about philanthropy and financial responsibility.