KCFE News

George Garvin Brown IV Globe and Mail Interview

May 2015

A recent Globe and Mail article featured an interview of 2014 KCFE Leadership Award Winner George Garvin Brown IV.

The article shares Brown Forman's history and discusses Mr. Brown's strategy after becoming chairman in 2007 after decades of turmoil and consolidation in the spirits industry. The company has had to adapt to changing tastes and global trends - and the challenges of governance of a family business in its fifth generation.

While ninety per cent of family businesses don't make it successfully to the third generation, Mr. Brown and company chief executive officer Paul Varga created a "family engagement" committee to avoid the conflict that has brought down other family firms, and left them vulnerable to takeover.

"They had such a unique approach to things," said Lloyd Shefsky, co-director of the Center for Family Enterprises at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

"(Family is) their biggest asset; it's what makes them unique," Prof. Shefsky said. "But there has to be something more for people to go through the extra effort, and sometimes trauma, of continuing family ownership of the business. ... Families generally don't work on that enough."

Click here to read the Globe and Mail article.