Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Women In Family Business

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As you might imagine there are a hundreds of blogs, Linkedin groups, websites dedicated to family businesses.  There are several that I follow and sometimes get really caught up in. 

Recently there has been lots of discussion on women in family business.  Of course there have been books written on this and research done on this etc.  However I have been having a hard time grabbing onto it.  I keep wondering why is there so much to talk about?  How different is a capable women from a capable man?  Shouldn’t the question be is the person qualified not what gender is the person?  I know I know in a perfect world right?  I guess my real question is what is all the talk about?  From what I see of the NYFBC membership we have just as many women as active members as men.  In fact five of our board members are women in family business. 

I guess I need to keep following these blogs and threads on Linkedin to understand more of the differences as it has been suggested by someone that I start a women in family business roundtable at the NYFBC (this suggestion came from a man though) but I just don’t have enough information to pull it off.  And I am not sure that I would want to separate the women and men as they seem to communicate and interact very well in the current roundtable situation.   Okay, so maybe I should just try one event and see what happens right?  Here goes, I am preparing to have a family business luncheon in April for just women.  Next item, what are we going to talk about?

The research is proving to be interesting as I read the comments from other countries.  It seems the one I am following now which was started over a month ago is talking about the women having the soft skills for the family business.  Well that seems like a touchy subject. 

Anita from United Kingdom starts this thread with -  In my opinion it's the women that make things happen in the family business when it comes to ironing out conflict and inter family relationships. So long as they have had a strong parent to mentor them as youngsters.

Several days and comments later from Kathleen in Louisville - I would caution against making too many generalities about the "nurturing" and relational qualities or "soft skills" of women. Not only are many women not possessive of these qualities, but many do not want to feel pushed into these types of gender roles simply because they have been told that all women are/should want to and be well suited for the role of counselor, nurturer, facilitator, etc,

While men and women commenting from different cultures does make for interesting reading I still don’t see the difference between men and women in the family business?  What am I missing?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Largest and Oldest New York Family Businesses

The Family Business Magazine publishes a list of America’s 100 oldest family businesses and 100 largest family businesses.  This list represents information about the family businesses that have made it through economic downturns, recessions and depressions.  A few have fallen off the list due to the economy and other situations but some are still going strong and stronger than ever.

Of course what I look for immediately is the New York businesses that may be included.  The list represents businesses that are over 155 years old.  I see nine of them from New York and yes some are agriculture and most based towards the New York City region.  However one we would all recognize is Harden Furniture Company coming in at #65.  In 1844 Charles Harden purchased a saw mill on Fish Creek and started bridge construction, today 5th generation Greg Harden is the CEO. 

A New York business that fell of this list recently due to it becoming less family controlled is Corning. Founded in 1851 and went public in the 1940’s and according to  this issue of the Family Business Magazine the Houghton family’s ownership stake is down to only 2%.

Now on to the largest Family Businesses on this list once again I turn to New York. Thirteen this time!   Again of course downstate is represented pretty extensively.  But a few I know we enjoy are listed and one of our favorites and a sponsor of the New York Family Business Center Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., which comes in at #50.  #75 The Golub Corp  (Price Chopper), Constellation Brands Inc. out of Victor and #84 Rich Products out of Buffalo.   Hats off to New York State Family Businesses!

I know,you want to know the #1 for both lists. 

Walmart comes in as the largest family business in America with Ford not to far behind but of course they are both public companies.  For privately held family businesses according the Family Business Magazine would be Cargill Inc. coming in overall at #3.  Cargill founded in 1865, located in MN and controlled by fourth generation.

I bet you would all guess the oldest family business would be agriculture.  Well you are close that would be #2 in Virginia, and #3, 4 and 5.  However the number one oldest is a Cymbal maker out of Norwell Mass.  Avedis Zildjian Co. (don’t ask me to pronounce that) founded in 1623.  The fifteenth generation is involved in this company.  Wow. 

Well I’m not sure if all of you are interested in more information but I find it very interesting and would be glad to share more information out of this issue with you.   Maybe we should play trivia at one of our events.

Give thanks to all our Veterans today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Strength In Numbers

This month our next generation roundtable was facilitated by Mike D’eredita from The Leading Element.  He led a conversation on how important collaboration is in all business but possibly maybe more so in upstate New York.  Since we have started the NYFBC I have seen some new collaboration and probably some rekindled ones.  Quite frankly this basically is the building blocks of the New York Family Business Center.  The  NYFBC believes our biggest resource is you.  We offer the opportunities for peers in different industries come together and talk about anything they want.  Mike talked about taking it further then the roundtables and meetings and possibly lunch one on one and talk about ideas.  You never know where the next big idea comes from!  

“Are there really any new ideas, how are ideas formed, where do they come from how do they develop?  All questions that bring us back to collaboration.  Take four minutes and watch this video it says it all.  Maybe this will start some new conversations of your own.

 Business is increasingly competitive and requires all approaches to connect.  We have all spent so many years establishing connections now it might be time to decide who else you need to connect with, or how you want to capitalize on the connections you already have.

Join in the conversation Wednesday, November 16th Family Business Breakfast Forum at Justin’ Tuscan Grill.  Navigating Awkward Conversations!  See you there!