“Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” is as old as commerce itself. Family enterprises rarely make it beyond three generations for many reasons. Today, we hear the story of the Grossman family from BEN GROSSMAN who co-operates the family business with his brother, David. They are fighting that “Shirtsleeves” phenomenon with an interesting set of tools and intention. In this podcast, we listen to their story of building the family business, managing transition and creating the conditions for success in future generations.
GROSSMAN MARKETING GROUP was founded as the Massachusetts Envelope Company back in 1910. Ben Grossman and his brother, David, are the 4th generation of family leadership 111 years later. The company has evolved into a full-service traditional and digital marketing firm.
Ben Grossman went to Princeton University. After college, Ben worked as a strategy consultant to Fortune 500 clients, as well as started and sold a sportswear and marketing firm. He went on to receive an MBA from Columbia Business School before taking the reins of the business with his brother.
The Business “Then”: The Nature of Grossman Marketing Group-
-What does GMG do?
-A Brief History and who are the players?
-What was important to your father and other family members?
-How were you and your brother “developed” and integrated in the business?
The Next Generation- The Business “Now”
-What processes do you and your brother use to run and evolve the business?
**“Start Stop, Continue” Review
-How does a marketing company survive and thrive in this day and age?
-How was your succession process different from other businesses that you see?
-What did succession look like for you father?
-Establishing credibility and not taking success for granted
-What hasn’t worked? What are the frictions? Anything you would have done differently?
The Business “Next”
How are you thinking about ownership and operational succession?
What do you think your kids’ involvement will look like? Will it be with the firm?
How do you think about the impact to other constituencies? (I.e. community, employees, customers, vendors)
GMG’s Strategy for the future
“The Letter” – Examples of Communication within and outside the family.
This is a treasure trove for families looking for good examples of value communication. They articulate an ethos that has served the family for four generations (plus!).
- Link to Ben’s great grandfather’s dollar-a-year check from the US Government: https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/6037c57f7424b4ea01ef8e45/60515ae13f381f3f1ef1ca37_Dollar%20a%20year%20man%20check.jpg
- Letter the Grossman Marketing Group sent out when Ben’s great-grandfather left to serve FDR and when Ben’s grandfather left to serve in the Army: https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/6037c57f7424b4ea01ef8e45/60515a91e1e851084c30e394_1941%20Letter.pdf
- Letter Ben and David sent out when their father left the company to serve as Treasurer of Massachusetts 70 years after our great grandfather left for public service: https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/6037c57f7424b4ea01ef8e45/60515a913f381fee04f1c956_2011%20Letter.pdf
How do we keep in touch with Ben?
Ben’s Blog: BEN GROSSMAN’S BLOG
GMG’s acquisitions page summary here: GMG ACQUISITION SUMMARY
Grossman Marketing Group: WWW.GROSSMANMARKETING.COM
Personal website: WWW.BENGROSSMAN.INFO
LinkedIn: BEN GROSSMAN