In this issue
Savannah's Candy Kitchen has been part of Rhett Strickland's life for as long as he can remember. "Every day when I came home from school, we'd come down to the candy store" where his parents, Stan and Tonya Strickland were working, says Rhett, now 22 and the production manager for the family business in Savannah, Ga. "I had to literally sleep under the table while they packed packages at Christmastime."
Earlier this year, Tyson Foods, a family-controlled, publicly traded company known for its chicken, pork and beef products, announced it would explore the sale of its Sara Lee frozen bakery business and other "non-protein" brands. Tyson also said it would acquire AdvancePierre Foods, a supplier of packaged meat sandwiches.
A poorly planned succession has the potential to derail a closely held family business. The lack of a well-drafted plan can cause financial hardship on both the business and the family. Letting the estate plan dictate how a business is passed on may cause issues, and there are numerous stories of prominent business empires that have been adversely affected by the lack of a well-designed succession plan.
You could say the Lange twins of Lodi, Calif., are intoxicated by the grape growing business. Randall and Brad Lange represent the fourth generation to farm their family's land. About a decade ago they took the next step and built a winery. Now all five of the twins' children work in the family business, LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards.
There are a lot of Is to dot and Ts to cross if you're transporting goods across the border between the U.S. and Canada. Willson International has helped importers and exporters for nearly 100 years.
William F. Willson founded the business in 1918 in Fort Erie, Ontario, serving as a customs broker for goods traveling via ferry between Fort Erie and Buffalo, N.Y. Today, the company serves a range of industries, including the food, steel, floral and automotive sectors.
Right after Stratton and Mary Leopold got married in 1995, they flew to Savannah, Ga., and headed to the Citizens & Southern National Bank.
There, Stratton unlocked a safe deposit box and showed Mary his father's recipe for the ice cream produced at the family business, Leopold's Ice Cream in Savannah.
By Barbara Spector
The Business: Founder Albert K. Hepler moved to Youngwood, Pa., from New Alexandria, Pa., in 1942, after his New Alexandria property and flourmill were acquired by the federal government for the Loyalhanna Dam and its floodplain area. Hepler purchased a small feed and hardware store in Youngwood. Later, the family bought the 19th-century Stanton family mill in New Stanton, Pa., and relocated there.
Generation of family ownership: Third.
Revenue: Approximately $65 million.
Number of employees: Approximately 53.