As we launch full steam into the first quarter of 2017, there are several opportunities to reflect on the successes, failures and more memorable moments of the family business community in 2016. There are also several opportunities to appreciate that – particularly in the ecosystem of family businesses – 2016 was just another year, with many of the same challenges faced in previous years and by previous generations, which will be faced anew with each coming generation.  

Our friends at Family Business Magazine had the great idea to compile the best of the year through a collection of quotations from the owners and managers of some of great and enduring family businesses from around the country. The Family Business Resource Center editors could not resist the temptation to cherry-pick a few of our favorite quotes and reproduce them here.

Fisk Johnson, fifth-generation chairman and CEO of S.C. Johnson & Son spoke of the tradition of stewardship that runs through so many successful family businesses.

“One of my key objectives is to ensure the family is proud of the company and feels a part of it. The moment the company becomes more of a financial investment for the family, we may as well go public, honestly. The family never sees the value of the equity because that gets passed on. We see ourselves simply as a steward of that equity as it moves from one generation to the next.”

H. Fisk Johnson, (Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2016).

  Speaking with the weight of eight generations behind him in his New England business, John Lyman III, summed up the necessary balance in an intergenerational enterprise.

“I believe that the tradition that follows a family through eight generations is extremely powerful, quite tangible and very relevant. The secret is to not let your tradition unreasonably burden you.”

John Lyman III (Family Business Magazine, September/October 2016).

  Marc Glimcher, president of Pace Gallery and son of renowned art dealer Arne Glimcher described the individual challenge quite bluntly:
You have to come to peace with the idea that you’re going to do the same thing that your father did, and your father was pretty great at it. You also have to come to grips with the fact that he started it from scratch and you are never going to do that. It’s an internal struggle that took me 20 years to untangle.” — Marc Glimcher, president of Pace Gallery (NY Times, June 16, 2016
  And, finally, J. Mark Baiada, founder of Bayada Home Health Care, spoke plainly about the challenges in the intergenerational transfer of something that requires a particular interest and skill set, neither of which one can fake.
“It’s hard to have a hereditary system that produces the competencies required to meet the demands of the public and the organization.” — J. Mark Baiada, (Philadelphia Inquirer, June 28, 2016).
  Not surprisingly, Mr. Baiada intends to donate his business to charitable interests.   To read the full article from Family Business magazine, click here.