Family Unity: An Evening About Glue & Beer

I was honored to speak recently at a “Lasting Legacy” seminar sponsored by The Miles Foundation and Tailwind Philanthropic Advisors as one of two presenters. My topic was “In Search of ‘Family Glue’: Improving the Odds of Multi-Generational Success.” So there’s the “glue.” Where’s the beer come in? The other presenter was the Coors beer family, a real-life example of multi-generational success and keeping the business in the family.

The event kicked off with a Q&A session with sisters Melissa Coors Osborn and Carrie Coors Tynan, two Generation 5 (“G-5”) descendants of Adolph Coors who founded The Coors Brewing Company in 1873 in Colorado. Adolph passed the company down to G-3: grandsons Joseph and William. Joseph’s 5 sons and William’s son (all members of G-4) all work in the Coors business. Now G-5 is taking up the mantle. Melissa heads up the Coors Family Office. Carrie heads up the Adolph Coors Foundation.

Melissa and Carrie gave an enlightening peek behind the curtain to illustrate how the Coors have preserved family glue for five generations. They credit their ancestors for setting a clear vision, not just for the company, but also for the family.
Many business owners cultivate a solid business culture; the Coors have also cultivated a solid family culture.

The Coors cohesiveness is no accident. Melissa and Carrie revealed how their forefathers intentionally created a governance system. Their ancestors also instilled in them a strong work ethic. Their father made it clear that career choices needed to generate sufficient income for their needs. There would be no “trust babies” relying on a trust distribution to cover their lifestyle.

At family meetings, the sisters shared how they mix business and fun. To provide levity when things get too heavy, there’s a variety of stuffed animals down the center of the table. Each symbolizes a different behavior trait. One example that stuck with me was tossing a donkey at a relative who was acting like a you know what. Laughter erupts, and the tension subsides. Every family needs a system to address conflict—this was a new way for me.

Selecting Melissa and Carrie for their governance roles makes an important point when selecting a successor manager: don’t overlook the females in the family. Statistics show that females fare extremely well in taking over a family business. According to a Merrill Lynch study:

  • Women make more values-based decisions rather than just going for the bottom line. They see money as more than a way to finance the life they want to live but also as a way to meet commitments to themselves and to people and issues they care about.
  • Women live, on average, five years longer than men. Women may be around longer to run the business.
  • Women graduate in higher numbers from college and graduate school today than men (57% of recent college graduates).
  • 42% of women ages 18-64 have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • A mother typically spends a lot of energy maintaining the emotional cohesiveness of a family and keeping the peace among family members. This mindset can be a positive force in a business.

So that’s the “beer” story. The Coors example is inspiring. Next week’s post will focus on the “glue” as I share tips on how to create some “super glue” to keep your legacy intact for future generations.

Marvin E. Blum

Marvin Blum was honored to share the stage with members of the Coors family at a “Lasting Legacy” seminar. The program discussed how to create “Family Glue” and celebrated the Coors family legacy, a prime example of multi-generational success.