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.

  • At the Helm: Mitchell Kaneff

    Generation of family ownership: Third.

    Company revenues: $50 million (2011).

    Number of employees: More than 200.

    Years with the company: 30.

    First job at this company: Working on the glue line at our Hauppauge facility. I’d build skids, or pallets, and label them for shipment.

    At what age? 16.

  • September/October 2012 Openers

    A recent survey of Canadian family businesses found that although about half the respondents expect a generational transition in the next five years, few have plans or governance structures in place to smooth the handoff. But the good news uncovered by the study is that next-generation members are aware of the challenges they face—and they have insightful suggestions about how their elders can help them.

  • The spice of life

    Every business has its special set of challenges, which become even more complicated when the “family factor” is added. When the family business is a restaurant, family members must be able to stand the heat or get out of the kitchen. Our cover story profiles the Bozzi and Ganzi families, who have operated the famed Palm Restaurant Group in a two-family partnership since 1926. Third-generation members Wally Ganzi and Bruce Bozzi Sr. now run the steakhouse chain and are contemplating succession.

  • Moving forward

    I have a confession to make: Change makes me uncomfortable. Doing things in a new way involves extra effort and inevitable mistakes, and I mourn the time that’s wasted during the learning curve. But if I’d never learned to embrace change, where would I be today? Sitting at a typewriter waiting for the correction fluid to dry? I prefer progress, thank you very much.

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