I recently read an article that found according to the Family Business Institute, only about 30% of family businesses survive into the second generation of owners and 12% into the third. A mere 3% of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond of ownership. My brother Jake & I are the 4th generation Hickman. This article also mentioned that most family businesses don’t continue because the next generations loose touch with the original values and inspirations.
So I asked myself what our values were as a company and family.
Recently I helped my grandparents plan an employee recognition dinner for everyone at Hickman Lumber Co. It’s the parent company to Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring. All of our lumber for flooring comes from our sawmill, Hickman Lumber. We invited all the current employees and their partners as well as some retired guys for dinner & drinks.
We recognized everyone who has been working with us for over 10 years. There were over a dozen who have been with us for more the 20 years and the longest to date is 41 consecutive years at Hickman Lumber.
At the dinner last week my grandpa, who isn’t one to really give speeches, thanked everyone for all their help over the years. He mentioned how he never really felt like a boss, but more just a part of the team. He talked a lot about how they’ve learned a lot together over the years. They’ve had some tough times as well that they had to pull together and push through. We’ve had two major fires at the mill and over the last 10 years over 30% of the sawmills in PA have been put out of business. Without their hard work we never would have been able to survive.
It was great to see the response of everyone as well. It was really cool to see how much they appreciated Pop Larry and being a part of this organization. This helped me reinforce that what is so special about a family business isn’t just the owner’s family, but it is how the whole company becomes a family. That is what truly makes it great. Stories surfaced from employees about how grateful they were of Pop Larry and the company and what it has meant to them.
I’ve always been proud of working for my family business, but after this dinner I really gained another of appreciation for my grandparents and dad who have continued and grown the company over the years. Our values are first of all offering a good product, but that’s only achieved with the help of a great team. Hopefully my brother & I can hold true to these values and continue this great business.