In this issue
Family businesses are often referred to as “the backbone of a community”—and for good reason. According to 2003 research by Joseph Astrachan of Kennesaw State University and Melissa Shanker of Loyola University Chicago, family businesses contribute between 29% and 64% of the U.S. gross domestic product (depending on how broadly “family business” is defined) and employ between 27% and 62% of the U.S. workforce (J.H. Astrachan, M.C. Shanker, Family Business Review, vol. XVI, no. 3, September 2003).
At the recent Wharton Economic Summit, stock guru Jeremy Siegel, Wharton's Russell E. Palmer Professor of Finance, noted that in the coming years the Baby Boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—will be approaching retirement. This development will dramatically change the retirement landscape for a long time to come. With the average retirement age dropping to 62 today from 67 in 1950, this cohort will face a variety of issues, such as how to support themselves through an extended retirement period and, as Siegel posits, who will buy their goods and assets when they are ready to sell.
Sam Herzfeld is 29 years old, and, though childless now, he happily envisions a future that includes fatherhood. As a fourth-generation principal of Guardian Service Industries, a New York City janitorial and building-maintenance company, Herzfeld participated in and supported a critical business decision made last year that extends far beyond dollars and cents to include the family he hopes someday to have.
Guardian’s gone green.
Most family businesses encounter publicity, good or bad, at one time or another. The trick is to capitalize on or cultivate what’s positive and avoid or at least minimize what’s negative. In other words: to plan for and manage your company’s public relations.
It’s certainly logical to dodge bad publicity, but many family businesses shun favorable notice as well.
“Family businesses are private and secretive,” observes Craig E. Aronoff, the author of a college textbook on public relations and principal of the Family Business Consulting Group in Marietta, Ga.