Family Business Longevity: Leveraging History and Values to Evolve and Grow

LNWM is a subsidiary of the Laird Norton Company, a family business whose legacy dates back to 1850. Now in its seventh generation, Laird Norton Co. continues to thrive as a holding company invested in a wide variety of ventures. What has led to this ongoing success? Part of the answer can be gleaned in a recent article by Paul Sullivan, the Wealth Matters columnist for The New York Times. In When Affluent Families Dig Up their Past, Paul included an interview with Debbie Brown, Chair of the Laird Norton Company, about the benefits of using family history and values to guide difficult business decisions.

As Debbie points out in the article, history and values can be particularly useful when things don’t turn out as planned. Even bad results can be positive if they lead to new realizations and ways of operating. For Laird Norton, having a well-documented family history let the company and the family look at similar events from the past to help guide them forward. According to Debbie, “part of our success was to reflect and learn from those moments and apply them to future investments.”

The same can be said for many of the clients we work with at Laird Norton Wealth Management. Values play an important part in financial planning. They help define a family’s relationship with money, for example, including whether they tend to be risk-takers or conservative in their investments.

Over time, being able to look back at what’s worked, what hasn’t, and how someone has responded offers a valuable history that can help drive decisions, settle disputes, improve communication and keep everyone moving forward in the same direction.

For Laird Norton, history and values have led to sustainable success. We’re fortunate to be part of that legacy and proud to be able to draw on such a wealth of expertise for the benefit of our own clients.