- Jul 10, 2018
Achieving long-term success as a family-run company is not a task for the weary. Around half of all businesses no longer exist after five years and only 3 percent of all family businesses operate at the fourth-generation level and beyond. However, you can run a successful business if you identify and leverage the value that comes from being family-owned.
As a member of the fifth-generation of the Gilbane family I have the privilege of blending our family values with our company core values. One of the unique features of being a private, family business is that the family’s values still inform the company even as we have grown to over $5B in revenue and over 3,000 employees. Whether it was our humble start as two Irish brothers building homes in Providence or our experience helping our country through World War II, we have never compromised those values. These values are still present in every go/no go decision or every person we hire. I would be naïve to think that we have cornered the market on company values. After all, the construction industry is filled with family businesses.
One of the other tangible benefits is our long-term view of the business. Our leadership and our family shareholders all seek accountability for growth and generating value year over year. However, because our family owners see the business as a cherished asset, they provide leadership with the freedom to make long-range decisions. Our strategic vision, our level of investment and our approach toward clients do not come with unrealistic time constraints. It is this environment that allows our large global business to feel very entrepreneurial and nimble. As one colleague said “Gilbane is the biggest small business.”
So, we have long lasting family values and a long-term view of the business, what else is there? Our 145-year-old family business has evolved to be so much more than my cousins’ and uncles’. It is about our people. Our culture is now about our employees feeling like they are a part of the Gilbane family. In the Mid-Atlantic we have multiple families with two generations of employees working for Gilbane. Across the enterprise we have upwards of three generations of employees’ families who have worked here. We encourage people to feel that connection to the company and we think our culture enables it.
This is the next stage of Gilbane’s history. We are leveraging family values and a long-term view, driven by shareholders who cherish the business; to foster a culture where family is something you can feel. We are not perfect. It takes a lot of work, but when it clicks it is special.