Family Business Stories & Quotations

They look upon retirement as something between euthanasia and castration.
Leon A Danco, President, Center for Family Business
ATTRIBUTION: On company founders who view “giving up” as tantamount to planning their own funerals, NY Times 11 Jun 86

Successors can’t learn from their mistakes if they’re never allowed to make any.
Leon A Danco, President, Center for Family Business

Stew Leonard owns a very successful food retailer in Connecticut. More than one of his children has worked in the business at one time or another. Several years ago one of his sons was employed in the produce department, but was not a good employee. The manager of the department informed Stu that his son was not meeting the standards expected of all employees. Stew told the manager that he would handle it.

He invited his son to the family home and told him to bring his bathing suit so they could get in the hot tub and talk. When in the tub Stew put on a hat, said it was his boss hat, and told his son he was fired. He then removed this hat and put on another saying it was his father hat. “Son, I’m very sorry to hear you’ve lost your job. Is there anything I can do for you?”
The legend of Stew Leonard

When you get to my age you don’t so much regret the things you did and failed. No you regret the things you were going to do and never got around to trying.
Stew Leonard’s mom

Our Policy:
Rule 1: The customer is always right!
Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, re-read rule 1!
Carved in stone outside Stew Leonard’s dairy store

-A successful business is often the best thing that can happen to a family – and the worst.
-There often seems to be nothing scientific about the management of a family company. Much of what goes on is rooted in emotion, and succession is the most emotional issue of all. Business professors hate this kind of situation; psychiatrists thrive on it.
-The biggest challenge in family businesses is the patriarch who lingers too long.
Gordon Pitts – “In the Blood – Battles to Succeed in Canada’s Family businesses”

-Keeping a family business alive is perhaps the toughest management job on earth.
-Optimism and idealism and enthusiasm and denial of reality may be essential to success.
John L. Ward

Wealth doesn’t last more than three generations.
Chinese Proverb

Peter Drucker’s three rules for survival of the family business into maturity:
1 – Family members do not work in the business unless they are at least as able and work at least as hard as any non-family employee.
2 – No matter how many family members are in the company’s management and how effective they are, at least one top job is always filled by an outsider. (À la Tom Hagen, the non Sicilian consigliere in the Godfather.)
3 – Family managed businesses, except for the very smallest ones, increasingly need to staff key positions with non-family professionals.
Peter Drucker, Managing in a Time of Great Change

The final test of greatness in a CEO is how well he chooses a successor and whether he can step aside and let his successor run the company.
Peter Drucker

Our most basic common link is we all cherish our children’s future.
John F. Kennedy

The great art of governing consists of not letting men grow old in their jobs.

Families are from Venus, businesses from Mars.
Alan Barker

Look after the employees first, the customers second, and the shareholders third.
Herb Kelleher

If you have a favourite story or quotation about families in business please email it to me.

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