31673039. The Success Gene

31673039. The Success Gene - THEFOUNDEFI In iH. y ins plow...

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THEFOUNDEFI In iH. y ins plow ilisi^ii on a farm in Maiite. The coinptmy he started riowsclis $6() million of stadium vVK/iii^i; and bleachers a year. 82 INC. MAGAZINE APRIL 2008
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Why some family businesses thrive year after year after year EVEN SUCCESSFUL FAMILY BUSINESSES tend to resemble fireflies. They flicker brightly for a brief moment, then die away. Consultants call this the rule of thirds: Only about a third of businesses make it to a second generation, a third of those live to see a third generation, and on and on. A precious few family businesses, though, do manage to beat the odds. They are passed down, revived, and reinvented from generation to generation, while all the others have long since gone bust, been bought, or just slowly faded away, done in by family feuds, hard times, or changing tastes. We have taken a close look at half a dozen fifth- and sixth-generation family businesses. It turns out they are a very special breed. They tend to make and sell products that last: guitars, pool tables, fiirniture. They have managed to keep much of their manufacturing in the United States. And they are able to put today's challenges—globalization, say—in perspective. "You think this is bad?" they might say "You should have seen what happened during the Great Depression!" These families have a lot of pride in their forebears' accomplishments, yet they are unusual in the business world for their modesty They are quick to credit the hard work of previous generations yet speak humbly of their own contributions. That's awfully refreshing in our modern gilded age of high-fiving tycoons shuttling between their private jets and megayachts. Then again, these families are about a lot more than just material success. They have a powerful sense of duty both to the past and to the future. By ADAM BLUESTEIN Photographs by RACHEL WATSON
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Hussey Seating Company FOUNDED:1635 North Berwick, Maine Tim Hussey, 5?, Sixth generation We started as a plow company and grew to be a good-size ag- ricultural implement business in the 19th century. The third generation started to diversif^' into all kinds ot" structural steel prod- ucts—fire escapes, ladders, ironwork, and steelwork for building construc- tion. My grandfather came into the business right after the first World War. He and his father got into ski equipment^ski jumps and chairlift towers—and we had a whole line of waterfront equipment—docks, diving boards. In the 1950s, when the school boom really started to take off, we got into indoor retractable bleachers, and that's when the company really grew. "'Ihe business followed the school boom and then the civic center boom and then the stadium boom. Over a period of about 15 years, starting in the late '80s, we did about half of the major league stadium and arena new construction in North America. We were doing maybe a million dollars in 1960 and $80 million by 2000. "When the stadium boom ended,
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31673039. The Success Gene - THEFOUNDEFI In iH. y ins plow...

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