Dealing with the Founder’s Dream: The Key to Bridging Generational Change in Family Companies

Dealing with the Founder’s Dream:Northeastern University
The Key to Bridging Generational Change
in Family Companies

Family Business Quarterly
by Jacques Leger

You don’t have to be a management guru to know that fast-paced change is an inescapable component of doing business today. The challenge for family businesses is dealing effectively with change as the business shifts from one generation to the next.

How can the second or third generations engage the founding generations in a process of change? With great difficulty in too many situation. The most severely limiting factor is often in the dreams of the new generation.

The business foundation. Consider the process of starting and building a successful family business. The launch begins with the entrepreneur’s dreams. The business evolves as a combination of the entrepreneur’s taste for risk early on, and the dreams of a brighter future for generations to come. Those dreams are reflected in the culture, the values, and the operating philosophy of the family-owned business.

Unfortunately, this business foundation often forms a solid core around which many business issues are seen as undiscussable. The problem is that the realization of the entrepreneur’s dreams, while at the center of pride of ownership, is often the key cause of intergenerational conflict in family businesses. As many of the dreams become realized, the taste for risk may dissipate, with the result that the appetite for change from the original success formula may wane. More…

Family Focus: The Mennel Milling Company

Family Focus:

The Mennel Milling Company

AFamily Focus: The Mennel Milling Company   n interview with the current president of Mennel Milling, Donald L. Mennel and his father the Retired Board Chairman addressing small family business issues such as, succession, competition and family roles.

Since its establishment by bankers in 1886 and through its development, The Mennel Milling Company has overcome typical family business challenges. Succession, competition, and family roles have all played a part in the company’s growth and success.Problems between banking families provided the opportunity for the Mennel family to gain control.Also typical in family businesses, the first job in the company for Donald M. Mennel (D.M.), retired Board Chairman, was emptying coal cars.As his education progressed, he was able to carry feed bags and use the broom in the mill,Due to other family business issues, D.M.’s reign as head of the company really began in 1958.

The Mennel Milling Company is currently the tenth largest flour milling company in the country with nearly $100 million in sales.There are four mills within the operation, located in Fostoria, Ohio; Dowagiac, Michigan; Roanoke, Virginia; and Mt. Olive, Illinois.The business and the Mennel family continue to tackle typical family business challenges. Donald L. Mennel (D.L.), the eldest of Don’s three sons, took over as president of the company when his father retired at age 65 to enter law school–graduating three years later from Ohio Northern University.Another son, John W. Mennel, Executive Vice President, is in the sales end of the business. More…