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A Vibrant Vision: The Entrepreneurship of Multigenerational Family Business
Richard N. Seaman. Seaman Corporation, $28.95 (188p) ISBN 978-1-73389-530-9
Seaman, chairman of the Seaman Corporation, addresses readers intent on developing a sustainable multigenerational family business in this thoughtful and well-written guide. This goal, he demonstrates, isn’t for the faint of heart—the statistics are pretty dismal, with only 3% of family enterprises surviving into the fourth generation. Still, it can be done, he suggests; Cargill, Comcast, Ford Motor Company, and Walmart are a few notable examples. The author’s family business is impressive, too—an industrial fabric manufacturer started in 1949 by his father, today it’s a nearly $200 million firm employing 350. Seaman, who acted as the company’s CEO for 50 years after his father’s death, shares eight key areas to focus on, such as investing in human capital, embracing long-term strategic planning, ensuring “customer-focused quality,” and developing effective corporate governance policies. Seaman provides plentiful anecdotes that illustrate his business strategy, such as when the company integrated R&D with marketing. He includes specific questions to drive discussion, and concludes with a crucial lesson on how family businesses can be harmed by a sense of entitlement among later generations. Considering how specific the subject matter is, this is a remarkably good book with valuable lessons for all manner of business leaders. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 02/07/2020

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