September/October 2012

  • September/October 2012

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In this issue

  • Your story is important

    This spring, a diverse group of family business leaders from across the country converged in Washington, D.C., for Family Enterprise USA’s (FEUSA) Capitol City Family Reunion—the first time a representative body of family enterprises has ever done so. It was educational, enlightening and energizing as we shared our personal stories, successes and challenges. Despite our many differences, we found many common characteristics and identified several shared values.

    Codes of conduct bring families together to listen

    Families have a natural tendency to fragment over generations. But when a family shares ownership and oversight of—and dependence on—shared investments, they must stem this tide. Enterprising families must work continually to head off and manage conflict within an ever-enlarging pool of family members.

    From one long-term investment to another

    When R.D. Merrill came to the Pacific Northwest from the East Coast in the 1890s and started amassing timberlands, he wanted a long-term asset for his family.

    Merrill “believed strongly in the continuity of family and also in the ultimate value of timberland investments,” says his great-grandson Charlie Wright, 57. “He recognized that it was a long-term investment, but he also recognized that families are long-term entities.”

    Tips on finding the right mix of board members

    The percentage of family businesses with a board of directors is on the rise. In fact, many of the most successful family businesses use boards. Yet companies without a board tend to struggle with the idea of creating one because the task can seem daunting. Many family companies have never had a non-family member involved “behind the scenes” at their business, and that scares some families. There are also a number of questions that need to be answered:

    • How should the board be structured to ensure we’re getting the most out of it?

    • Who should serve on the board?

    Your story is important

    This spring, a diverse group of family business leaders from across the country converged in Washington, D.C., for Family Enterprise USA’s (FEUSA) Capitol City Family Reunion—the first time a representative body of family enterprises has ever done so. It was educational, enlightening and energizing as we shared our personal stories, successes and challenges. Despite our many differences, we found many common characteristics and identified several shared values.

  • All stakeholders' interests must be considered

    Understanding and properly addressing family dynamics—the “softer issues” between family members—is key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of your family business. Unfortunately, frank consideration of family dynamics is often postponed by senior family members, ignored by corporate boards and deferentially avoided by the succeeding generation.

  • The power of the family bank

     

    Are you interested in creating a family legacy while encouraging entrepreneurial spirit, accountability, self-sufficiency and good governance, all within the context of your family’s core values?

  • Bertazzoni cooks up exciting designs

    Thinking of Italy usually involves thinking of food. The Bertazzoni name has been part of that tradition since 1882. Founder Francesco Bertazzoni evolved from making scales for cheese makers to crafting wood-burning stoves in Guastalla, near Parma in the Northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna. Today the company makes luxury ranges and cooking appliances.

  • September/October 2012 Toolbox

    Family councils from soup to nuts

    The Family Council Handbook: How to Create, Run, and Maintain a Successful Family Business Council

    By Christopher J. Eckrich and Stephen J. McClure

    Palgrave Macmillan, 2012; 370 pp., $55

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