Ref: IMD-7-2056

Case study

Reference: IMD-7-2056

Order this case study


J.M. Huber: A family of solutions (Abridged): In the midst of the leadership transition

By Denise H. Kenyon-Rouvinez, Professor Benoit F. LeleuxBenoit F. Leleux and Marta Widz

J.M. Huber, one of the largest and oldest family-held companies in the US, had strategically repositioned itself several times since it was founded in 1883 as a dry-color business. Visionary family leaders and a committed senior management team had transformed the group into an international player with operations in more than 20 countries and about half of its 4,000 employees based outside North America.

A portfolio management company (PMC), J.M. Huber became one of the key players in hydrocolloids, specialty chemicals and minerals, and engineered woods, and in 2017 it booked sales of US$2.3 billion. In 1993, Peter T. Francis, a fourth-generation family member, became chairman and CEO. For the fifth time in J.M. Huber’s history, the family took complete leadership of the company. The years ahead were not always kind. In 2004 the firm had levered up its balance sheet to complete the largest acquisition in its history. Then, 2006 brought the collapse of the US housing market, and the economic crisis of 2007 hit many of J.M. Huber’s key markets hard, putting the group under pressure.

In the midst of the crisis, the company faced another significant milestone in its long history: Peter T. Francis had already announced in 2004 that he planned to retire in 2009. He was well aware that leadership succession was one of the most delicate moments for a family business, even in the best of times.

How did the family and the board of directors support Peter T. Francis’s decision to step down from his dual leadership function in the middle of the global recession? How was the succession engineered? What came first: CEO succession or chairman succession? Who was chosen for the CEO and the chairman positions: internal or external candidates, family or non-family members?

Learning Objective

Managing leadership succession in family business:

  • CEO succession and succession on the board (Chairman succession)
  • crisis management
  • family business values
KeywordsChairman, Chief Executive Officer, Conglomerate, Corporate Governance, Crisis Management, Family Business, Leadership Succession, Leadership Transition, Succession, Hydrocolloids
SettingsNorth America, United States of America
J.M. Huber Corporation, Materials
2009
TypeField Research
Copyright©2019
LanguageEnglish
Order this case study

Reference: IMD-7-2056

IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Fax +44 (0)1234 751125
Email [email protected]

The Case Centre Babson College

Babson Park Wellesley MA 02457, USA
Tel +1 781 239 5884
Fax +1 781 239 5885
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way Boston, MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

Case Center Japan

2nd Floor, Toranomon Jitsugyokaikan,
1-1-20 Toranomon, Minato-ku,
Tokyo 105-0001 Japan
Tel +81 3 3503 6621
Fax +81 3 3501 0550
Email [email protected]

Copyright information

IMD retains all proprietary interests in its case studies and notes. Without prior written permission, IMD cases and notes may not be reproduced, used, translated, included in books or other publications, distributed in any form or by any means, stored in a database or in other retrieval systems. For additional copyright information, please contact IMD's Information Center Copyrights Services.

Contact our Knowledge Center for additional information on IMD publications

Contact our Media Relations team to republish

Case study

Reference: IMD-7-2056

Order this case study

Looking for something specific?

Keep reading

Back to top