The Secret’s in the Sauce: Multigenerational Construction Industry Successes

May 2, 2024|


Only 30 percent of family-owned businesses in the U.S. survive into the second generation, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Only 12 percent make it to the third generation. A mere 3 percent endure into the fourth generation and beyond.

Bear these statistics in mind as you read the multigenerational construction company success stories in the pages that follow. Each is a testament to surviving – and thriving – to defy the odds.

Of the companies (and industry associations) you’ll soon read about in our special

April 2024 MultiGen Construction Company Successes edition of CNR Magazine, five have surpassed the 100-year mark. Another five have been in existence for more than 75 years. Another five have been operating successfully for more than 50 years. And the rest have been around for more than 40 years.

Not only is every one of the following companies and associations bucking the odds, but they’re also thriving. Why is that? In other words, what’s their secret sauce?

The answer is definitely multifaceted.

Ingredients in each of these multi-gen recipes for success include family connectedness, shared values, intentional actions as stewards to their generation and the next (investing the profits back into the firm), humility, professionalism, transparency, a rock-solid work ethic, effective communication, collaboration, philanthropic generosity and much more.

Each of these companies had a first-generation founder with extraordinary vision and pluckiness. He began with perhaps a pick-up truck, a mule and a whole lot of courage. Among our 100-year-old company success stories, you’ll find founders who launched their family business just a few years after the end of World War I. Several of the stories of companies celebrating 75 years in existence hail from entrepreneurs who had just returned from serving in WWII; similarly, both trade associations featured in these pages got their start in the mid-1940s as the war was coming to a close.

As each family increased in numbers and the business increased in complexity through the years and decades, these family-operated companies developed higher levels of organization and honed their focus, adapting to what construction technology and the market made possible. Some opted to extend ownership shares to non-family members who seemed like kin due to the loyalty they’d shown to the business for years.

These stories impress and inspire me greatly. Five months ago, I acquired this 55-year-old, continuously publishing construction industry magazine as its first non-family owner. As I write these words, I’m in awe at the accomplishments of the multi-gen companies whose incredible stories fill the pages you’ll read.

May these stories inspire all of us to wake up and head to work every day with a renewed commitment to building this industry for the better for generations to come.

Kerry Smith is president and chief executive officer of Construction News and Review.




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