Family businesses have been a key pillar of the global economy for centuries. By passing down traditions from generation to generation, these enterprises preserve local customs and establish unwavering customer loyalty over the course of decades.

In the U.S. alone, there are more than 5.5 million family businesses. However, not all of these businesses survive the test of time.

Of all family businesses in America, only about 13% are passed down to a third generation, and only 3% are passed down to a fourth generation.

There are unique advantages to working with a family business with a 100-year history—namely, the knowledge and experience that comes with over a century of operations.

Let’s dive deeper into the unique value these long-standing tenets offer their customers.

Historical Legacy and Trust

When a business has a 100-year legacy, it comes with an aura of trust and reliability. It takes more than mere luck for a business to achieve this type of longevity. In most cases, it’s the result of consistent dedication, quality customer service, and a strong understanding of product and industry dynamics.

Each new generation that operates a family business accumulates invaluable experience and insights. This creates a rich foundation for the business to continue building upon for decades to come.

Consider the likes of Ford in the automotive sector or Brooks Brothers in fashion. Both family businesses have operated for over a century. Their enduring presence is a testament to the trust they’ve cultivated, not just among their clientele but within the community at large.

Consistency and Dedication

In order for multi-generation family businesses to succeed, they need consistent core values and an unwavering commitment to their mission. While the business landscape evolves over time, family businesses use their rock-solid foundational principles to offer high-quality products and excellent customer service.

This doesn’t mean that family businesses are resistant to change, but rather that they are highly dedicated and resilient. Over the course of a century, any business will have navigated economic ups and downs and industry disruptions. The ability not just to survive but to thrive during trying times speaks volumes about a business’s perseverance and strategic foresight.

When you work with long-term, enduring family businesses, you get the peace of mind that comes with a proven track record of stability and dedication.

A Personal Approach

In an age dominated by automation, the value of a personal touch cannot be overstated. Family businesses often stand out for their deep-seated commitment to warm customer service. Clients aren’t just numbers on a ledger—they’re relationships nurtured over years or even decades.

Consider a local family-owned jeweler, for example. They might remember a grandfather’s specific taste in watches or a mother’s preferred gemstone, and now curate selections for a younger generation. Multi-generation B2B businesses can also build decades-long relationships with their clients.

When family businesses embed memories into their services, they transform transactions into meaningful interactions. They offer an experience that’s increasingly rare in today’s fast-paced market.

Innovation Driven by Tradition

In today’s fast-paced economy, a lack of innovation can quickly turn into stagnation. In order for family businesses to succeed for decades, they need to balance cherished traditions with modern innovation. This special balance often results in the highest quality products and services for customers.

From L to R: Don Goodwin (5th Generation), Don G. Goodwin (3rd Generation), and Tom Goodwin (4th Generation) 

For example, many of today’s family businesses continue to sell products they have perfected over decades but have used technology to make operations more efficient. They might implement automation in the manufacturing process to speed things up, but still use the same high-quality materials and construction to create excellent products. Combining reverence for tradition with forward-thinking innovation helps these family businesses succeed in the long term.

Community Involvement and Responsibility

Another advantage of working with an established family business is their connection with the local community. These businesses have not only watched their communities evolve and change but often play integral roles in shaping that journey as well. With this longevity also comes a unique sense of social responsibility.

Because of this, many family businesses give back by sponsoring local events, supporting local educational programs, or even establishing charitable foundations. For example, many family-owned bookstores have initiated literacy programs in their communities. In fact, a whopping 81% of family businesses contribute to their local community in some way.

Employee Benefits

Family-owned businesses offer a variety of benefits for employees in addition to the incredible service they provide their customers. Many of these multi-generational businesses offer long-term employment opportunities for their staff. In today’s chaotic job market, this level of stability is very attractive for many employees.

Working with a family-owned business also provides a sense of belonging and purpose that nurtures loyalty. Partners and suppliers also relish the ongoing reliability that these businesses offer. Long-standing contracts and collaborative approaches result in mutual growth and shared successes.

Ultimately, family-owned businesses value tradition, relationships, and collective prosperity.

100 Years of History and Innovation

Family businesses that have operated for over 100 years offer unique experiences for clients, partners, and employees. Their rich history and reputation are a testament to their hardworking dedication, close personal relationships, and commitment to the community. Family businesses also combine tried-and-true approaches with new innovations in order to succeed.

Circa 1950’s. From L to R: Don G Goodwin ( 3rd Generation), Charlie Garcia (Goodwin’s first employee), Maurice Goodwin (2nd Generation). This facility is in downtown Los Angeles, the first facility we built. 

In a world that has rapidly shifted to automated, impersonal transactions, family businesses provide a more genuine, customer-first experience. Next time you’re selecting a business to work with, consider a storied multi-generation family business.

About the Author

Don Goodwin is the president and fifth-generation leader of Goodwin Company, a chemical contract manufacturer with operations in California and Georgia. Don has led Goodwin Company through both domestic and international growth in liquid blending and filling solutions.