Family businesses are a foundational element of the global economy and will play a key role in its continued recovery. What keeps great family businesses going strong generation after generation? To steal from Mr. Shakespeare, “that is the question.”
I recently had the privilege to ask true experts the question at the Washington Family Business Awards. The inaugural event, sponsored by our firm, celebrated standout family businesses in our community that demonstrated smarts, tenacity and vision to not only survive but to thrive during the recent economic recession.
Real family business leaders in the Northwest, honored at the event for their companies’ success, talked about smart succession planning, about the importance of holding true to core values, about the older generation mentoring the up-and-comers, and about incorporating creative ideas from the younger generation to modernize their firms.
I was really struck by their stories of sustained success.
These companies don’t have the market capitalizations of other Northwest companies, like Amazon.com, Starbucks, Costco or Microsoft. But they have something these higher-profile companies have yet to achieve: remarkable longevity.
They have stood the test of time, many of them for more than a century. For instance, Goldfinch Bros. Inc., a paint and glass supplier based in Everett, has been in business for 118 years. Run by fifth-generation family members, business continues to grow even in the teeth of the recent recession. Brothers Greg and Geoff Goldfinch, who lead the company, report that sixth-generation Goldfinches are now quickly learning the business.
Another great story: Justin and Edward Taylor currently run the enterprise that their great-grandfather founded in the Puget Sound area in the 1880s, Taylor Shellfish Farms. Through the generations, the family has grown its business into the largest producer of shellfish in the U.S., providing jobs to nearly 500 employees. They have earned success by both managing and operating the day-to-day activities at the business and keeping an eye on the future. Preparing the next generation of business leaders and smart estate planning continue to put the family in a position to sustain their prosperity for generations to come.
Congratulations to them!
See the full list of family business award winners in the categories of small, medium and large-sized companies, Legacy Award, Cross-Generation Transition Award, Growth Award and Business Transition Award in a package of Seattle Business Magazine articles.
Their stories inspire us.