In this issue
Sooner or later, most family business owners will face a quandary: How can they enjoy the fruits of their labor without having to sell the company or relinquish majority control? Mezzanine funds offer them the chance to take cash out of their business, yet maintain majority ownership and management control for themselves and the generations to come.
What's in an address? Plenty, if you ask brothers Andre and David Rubenstein, co-owners of Rubensteins, the New Orleans clothing store started by their father, Elkin, and his brother Morris in 1924. Even as the once 11x15-foot men's furnishings shop grew to occupy 42,000 square feet in six buildings at the corner of Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue in the heart of downtown New Orleans, the family kept the original address: 102 St. Charles Ave.
When I was growing up, I often got ghastly looks when I said my father ran a funeral business. I would respond with comments like “it's recession-proof,” or I'd offer up a joke, like the one about why there's a fence around the cemetery (because people are dying to get in). I was always amused when someone asked if we had bodies in our basement.
Managing for the Long Run: Lessons in Competitive Advantage from Great Family Businesses, By Danny Miller and Isabelle Le Breton-Miller
Harvard Business School Press, 2005
310 pp., $29.95
Reviewed by Barbara Spector
Estée Lauder. Hallmark. S.C. Johnson. Levi Strauss. Coors. Nordstrom. New York Times. Wal-Mart. Anyone who reads the business press knows that these companies rank among the world's largest family businesses.