OCTOBER 2013. As one of the larger and older family-held companies in the US, the J.M. Huber family business had strategically repositioned itself several times since it was founded in 1883. Visionary family leaders and a committed senior management team had transformed the group into an international player with leadership positions in niche markets in its various business portfolios. In 1993 the fourth generation of the family took over leadership of the company: Peter T. Francis became Chairman and CEO. He set a lofty goal for his tenure: “By the year 2010 J.M. Huber will be acknowledged as one of the best run companies in the United States”. But times were not always kind. Several years after the company had levered up its balance sheet to complete the largest acquisition in its history, the economic crisis of 2007 hit many of its key markets hard, putting the group under pressure. With the crisis in fl bloom, Huber also faced another significant milestone in its 125-year-old history: the succession of Peter Francis. But true to form, the family rallied behind the company and turned this difficult moment into an opportunity to show its mettle. The Board of Directors did not shy away from the process and selected a non-family executive, Mike Marberry, as the next CEO. How did the Board support him as he took the reins in the midst of the global recession? And how did the family engaged fully with him and, based on his skilful execution, came to trust his vision for the future? After all, the firm had always succeeded in hard times, and they all wanted it be the case again.
Managing the family business and education of the next generation; owner’s roles, family governance, family council, inclusiveness, succession process.
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