The Bottom Line Susan Marvin April 15, 2005 Career opportunities, like gifts, come in packages of many shapes and sizes. MBA graduates are often drawn to the curb appeal of public companies and turn a blind eye to the rewarding opportunities offered by family owned businesses. I encourage you to expand your search. Family owned businesses form the bedrock of our economy, comprising more than 80 percent of all firms and employing the majority of the American work force. According to a study conducted by John Ward of the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, family controlled businesses generate greater returns on investment and more perceived quality by the marketplace than public and non-family controlled firms.Family businesses can be great places to apply your critical thinking skills and live out your personal values in a meaningful way. The business world is under constant change, the pace of which will only accelerate. A well-run family business, as any well-run business, recognizes the need for enthusiastic talent and new skills to strengthen the company, sharpen its ability to compete and continue its legacy. Simply put, we need you.Minnesota serves as the headquarters to thousands of family businesses, from small technology start-ups to global giants such as Cargill. In my opinion, as well as in my experience, family businesses have a great deal to offer:Corporate character providing long-term vision. Family businesses are fundamentally different because the family members control both the ownership and the direction of the company. The family is a definable, constant and passionate group that can fashion a compelling corporate mission and supply the strengthening values necessary to achieve it.Well-run family businesses focus on legacy and long-term performance rather than on near-term expectations of disparate and uninvolved owners who “rent” stock. Family business owners are here to stay through the ups and downs, striving to make strategic choices that support the long-term prosperity of the business. We are committed to maintaining a secure business platform from which our employees can develop personally and professionally in their jobs instead of wondering whether they will have jobs.Recognition of the irreplaceable value of our employees. The success of the business is only possible because of our employees and managers. At Marvin, we continually invest in our employees’ personal and professional development. We are not unique in that regard. We recognize and reward performance, innovation and loyalty. There is a powerful, reinforcing consistency between business strategy and family beliefs.Fierce brand loyalty. Family businesses typically display an unswerving commitment to quality that, in turn, generates a loyal customer following. Reputation and family are virtually inseparable. Marvin windows and doors are featured in buildings worldwide. We stand behind our products, not only because it is the right thing to do but also because it is consistent with our family values. Because the owners and the company leaders genuinely believe in them, we have the courage of our conviction, even when the circumstances are difficult.Family businesses value thoughtful people with exceptional skills and talents who can expect to be rewarded, but also can expect to contribute to a legacy and a broader community. Also, family businesses can offer unique career opportunities and flexibility that their public counterparts may find hard to match. Don’t limit your career options to just public companies. You may find that the right opportunity for you is more like family than you ever thought possible.