Family-owned Business – Insights from Seth Rosenblum

Family-Owned Business executives
Left to right: (back) Jonathan Phillips, David Hollander, Seth Rosenblum, Thomas D. O’Connor, Jr., Niladri Ghoshal, (front) Dawn Abbhul, Stefanie Wiley, Kimberly Adams Russell (Photo by Donna Abbott-Vlahos for the Albany Business Review)

In March, Seth Rosenblum joined a panel of family-owned business executives convened by law firm Hodgson Russ and the Albany Business Review for a roundtable discussion about the unique challenges and opportunities of family enterprise.

Seth, who took over as CEO of The Rosenblum Companies from his father, Jack, in 2012 after working at the company for a decade, shared insights about his experience in a family-owned business including succession, growth and hiring:

On succession:  “(When) my father founded our company, he was in his mid 30s at the time…and he built until he was in his early 60s, which was the mid-nineties when he finished Great Oaks Office Park. And I think things reached a certain point where he felt like he had more than enough to keep his plate full, time-wise, financially, everything else, and it was a successful enterprise. Then there was sort of this lag, and then when I got involved about 12 years ago, it took a few years just to sort of absorb the operation, get to know what we had, start to work on refinements, start to put the right people in place. Then we did the generational transfer, succession of leadership, and from 2008 to 2012, we were working through that.”

On growth:  “…it’s only really in the last three years that we put a strategic growth plan in place. So we were no longer focused on the succession aspects or absorbing the operation, but merely focusing on how we’re going to grow, who we need to put in place on our executive team, who we need to put in place on our management team.

We’re on a path towards doubling in size this year. We’re actually taking a plan that we wrote two years ago or finished two years ago, and that was a 10-year plan. And we’re hoping to see that through this year in terms of achieving that growth. So we’re hiring for our accounting department. We didn’t even have an accounting department three years ago. Now we’re adding a second person in it. We’re adding building maintenance engineers. My experience over the first eight years that I was really day to day leading the company is we maybe hired one person a year, and that was just due to turnover. Now we have to start think about things like an on-boarding process. And again, it’s putting all those building blocks in place so we can do it efficiently and effectively.”

On the next generation:  “I would like to have a succession plan in place. I’m 35, my oldest child is nine. It’s a family-owned business. But it actually stresses me out that we don’t have a plan.  It’s almost a contingency plan or risk mitigation strategy as opposed to a succession strategy.”

Read more from all of the panelists in the Albany Business Review article.