Getting the Next Generation Ready to Run the Family Business

 by Dr. Patricia A. Frishkoff
Past Director, Austin Family Business Program, Oregon State University

You’ve built a successful business – let’s say it’s a nursery – and you hope to pass it on to the next generation.But you’ve seen succession fail, down the road and across town. So you wonder – why does the transition work in some family businesses, and not in others?As with nursery stock, success grows on strong roots.

Passion.Does the next generation perceive and understand the passion of the senior generation?

We used to visit businesses on our vacation trips when I was a child.That was due partly to our family farm: my Dad and Grandpa knew a lot of people, plus we really couldn’t afford to pay admission to amusement parks. I loved those visits.It was partly about the interesting work that the people did.But, it was more about the performance that the owner gave as he (sometimes she) showed us around.For the eyes, gestures and voices of those owners exuded passion – deep love for the business and their work.  More…

This Family Farm is Here to Stay



Family Business Quarterly

Northeastern University Center for Family Business

Interview with Jim and Don Wilson

 By David E. Gumpert

Gumpert Communications, Inc.

In our fast-paced online and wireless world, we can easily forget that there was a simpler time in the early and middle twentieth century when Lexington, MA and the surrounding towns were family farm communities. Those farms were mostly unable to cope with the emergence of suburbia and have disappeared, their lands turned into suburban homes. Except for Wilson Farms. In its early days a nondescript member of the community of small farms, Wilson Farms is today planning for involvement of the fifth generation of Wilsons. It is at once an agrarian artifact and a retailing powerhouse. In an average week, 16,000 customers seek out its fresh produce, flowers, and prepared foods. In this interview with Family Business Quarterly editorial advisor David E. Gumpert, two generations of the Wilson Farms family, Don, (72) and his son, Jim (49), ponder the richness of the farm’s history and the challenges associated with preserving that history for future generations of the family. More…