Business partnership meeting. Picture businessmans handshake. Successful businessmen handshaking afterLast week, we were honored to have Greg Waggoner and Joanna Morrill of Leupold & Stevens, Inc. present to the Family Business Legacy Group.   Greg is a representative of the 4th generation and serves on the company’s board of directors after working in the business for 22 years.  Joanna is the manager of the newly formed family office.  The Leupold and Stevens families have been in ownership for almost 110 years.

Greg described how the family found itself at a crossroads at the end of the 20th century.  At that point, ownership and control were in the hands of the third generation, who seemed uninterested in engaging with the next generation and who only provided information on a “need to know” basis.   Greg’s generation felt unconnected and uncertain about what it meant to be an owner.  Through leadership from representatives of members of the 3rd and 4th generation, however, the family was able to come together to push forward a commitment to engagement and inclusiveness, including implementation of a family council, the adoption of guidelines for the selection of family and non-family directors and more effective and open communication.

In response to a question from the audience, Greg made clear that without buy-in from the third generation, no meaningful change would have been possible.  No number of advisors would have been able to make up for an unwillingness in the incumbent generation to change.

The work in which Joanna is involved – focusing on enhancing communications within the family – speaks well of the commitment of Leupold & Stevens’ fourth generation–its current incumbent generation– to continue the hard work.   We look forward to seeing the results.

 

Joe Weinstein represents companies in corporate structuring, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, and other business transactions. He focuses particularly on transactions involving family or closely held businesses, private equity funds, and international businesses. Joe has substantial experience in the food-related industries and assists clients with the purchase, sale and finance of such companies. Contact Joe at joeweinstein@dwt.com or directly at 206.757.8165.