Family Business

The sandwich generation: when one is not given the opportunity of ownership and leadership


3 min




Watch the Woodmans, a third generation business family in the food industry operating Woodman's of Essex based in Massachusetts, USA, with employees in the 5th generation, explain how the 4th generation may skip their opportunity for leadership and ownership.


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Maureen Woodman
The first generation started in 1914 and let us say Chubby had that business until the 50s. So that is putting him around forty years. Dexter, taking over the business in the 50s, he passed away in 1987. And then his son Larry took the business, he had the business for another twenty-two years. Usually they say you have about a thirty-year run before it goes off because the person in front of you will live and usually the founder or the owner they will not let go.

We do not have the business set up right now that there is a successor in place, that is how Dougie and Stevie have chosen to keep the business for now. We have a weird situation where my husband’s sister and my husband are nineteen years apart in age, so it is really interesting to see ... View More what is going to happen. Because Stevie being sixty now and Doug being fifty-four, if Doug or Stevie lives a proper life, chances are very good that the ownership could go from third to fifth and skip this fourth Generation because the G fours are going to be too old to take it over and the G fives will be in their forties.

Generation five, they are all the way up to twenty-seven years old, eleven of them work here. The two elders are doing the catering and working in the catering business. They have worked in our function hall, they have worked in our restaurant in New Hampshire, they have worked downstairs in our restaurant here. So they can wear many hats.

Kristi Swett
I think that the people that it would affect are all in the same age group, not necessarily the same generation, that I do not even think it would matter which generation was running it or which generation was in charge. I still feel like, we all just look at each other as cousins anyway like I do not refer to the fourth generation as my second cousin or, we are all just cousins, aunts, uncles, you know siblings in that respect.