In this issue
When asked why they prefer to patronize family businesses, many customers say it’s because these companies represent tradition and continuity. But even among those who value the past, change is a force that must be reckoned with.
Demographics shift. Technological developments occur. Interest rates change. Parents and their children age—and so do buildings and machines. Relatives marry, bringing in-laws into the picture. A new generation is born—and so is a new group of shareholders.
Aside from a URL and the government-mandated Nutrition Facts chart, there isn’t much to indicate that the iconic box containing “JIFFY” baking mixes has changed since Mabel White Holmes created the first mix in 1930.
The word “salary” comes from the Latin word salerium, a payment made in salt. In ancient times, salt was a valuable commodity, used not only for seasoning but also to preserve food. According to Roman historian Pliny the Elder, soldiers were paid in salt, hence the term “worth one’s salt.” Pay scales presumably were set by the Emperor of Rome.
The late Robert B. Wegman may well be emblematic of a shift that is taking place in family businesses across the country. When he passed away in April 2006, Weg-man, then chairman of Wegmans Food Markets Inc., was 87 years old. Until shortly before his death, a company announcement stated, he “kept a full schedule working in the office and enjoying his favorite pastime of visiting Wegmans stores.”