In this issue
Anyone in a multigenerational family business has profound responsibilities centering on the concepts of "birthright" and "duty." Let's break it down.
I define "birthright" as an individual's right to identify and assume his or her own values. Our actions are based on our values—what we believe is important. Through our actions we share our personal legacy, whether we are conscious of that or not. This "birthright" and opportunity come laden with responsibility—to yourself and to others—to be intentional about your personal legacy.
Innovation in the Family Business: Succeeding Through Generations, by Joe Schmieder • Palgrave Macmillan, 2014 • 124 pp., $23
Many family business owners recognize that long-term sustainability of the enterprise depends on the family's ability to innovate. But what can a family company do to encourage and nurture innovative thinking? Joe Schmieder, a principal consultant at the Family Business Consulting Group, offers some suggestions in Innovation in the Family Business.
The Business: Turner's Fine Furniture was founded in 1915 by M.W. Turner Sr., who originally sold hardware in Pelham, Ga. He and his son began selling used furniture during the Depression and later transitioned to new furniture sales. Today, there are four Turner's Fine Furniture locations and six Turner's Budget Furniture locations in South Georgia.
In most privately owned family businesses, the chairman of the board is a family member. But for some family ownership groups, an executive from outside the family is the best choice for the chairman's job. Several multigenerational families, for example, have found that a non-family chairman can best manage the boundaries between the family and the business, while meeting the needs of both.
Generation of family ownership: Sixth.
Company size: In the U.S., we have four mills, a stationery factory and a printing facility in Massachusetts; manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and a security technology business in Georgia. In Sweden, there is a bank note printing plant, a paper mill and a passport business.
Number of employees: Approximately 1,500.
Years with the company: Thirteen years on the board of directors, two years as CEO.
In today’s increasingly competitive and global corporate marketplace, strategic planning has become a valuable tool for companies as they strive to balance the varied interests of key stakeholders —shareholders, employees, customers and community members. In family-owned businesses, managing these potentially competing interests becomes even more complex owing to emotional attachments and individual financial interests.
Business families are under increasing pressure to strengthen their position in today’s competitive marketplace, and to find ways to maintain relationships as family members move farther away from each other —even halfway around the world.
One factor that has distinguished family firms from their publicly traded counterparts, provided them with a competitive advantage and ensured a strong family bond is the unique set of values each family brings to the table. These principles have shaped family companies for generations.
Wayne and Steve, brothers in their late 40s, had just celebrated the tenth anniversary of Profitable Companies Inc., their management firm. The next morning, Wayne suffered a heart attack while jogging and died. Steve suddenly lost his longtime business associate. What’s more, after the estate was settled, he found himself with a new co-owner—Wayne’s wife, Betty.