Babson Professor Leonard Green, Case Director

Larry and Sheryl Overlan, Case Writers

Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship

© Babson College, 2001.


For over 100 years, three generations owned and operated a successful cutlery company avoiding most of the common problems experienced by multi-generation family businesses. The company withstood acute financial and management problems along the way. The biggest threat to the company's survival becomes the successful transition from the third to the fourth generation.

Family members, with great difficulty, finally assemble a new management team that satisfies members of both generations. However, after the succession is resolved, past legal problems resurface forcing the family to consider a buy-out. But the members of the third and fourth generation are shocked by the low offer and the demand that several family workers would have to leave the company. The century old family business faces extinction. Since the statistics show that 70% to 80% of first generation, and 80% to 90% of second generation companies do not survive, the case centers on how this company achieved three generations of successful succession.

Location of the company: East Coast, USA

Years spanned by the case: 1900 to 2000

Industry segment: Manufacturing

Stage of the company: Mature

Age of the entrepreneurs: 30's to 60's

Key Words: Family business, family succession, generations, manufacturing, buy-out


There is no DVD available for this case.

Teaching Notes

A two page case teaching package, written by Leonard Green, is available for this case. The teaching package includes strategies for case presentation, key concepts, solutions to the assignment questions in the case, and suggestions for the most effective ways to work this case into a course.