Next Generation Leadership

Creating Family Business Sustainability

March 5, 2013 By Kristina Magnuson

Derrick Lund, BSBA ’15, recounts a visit from Michael Mangum, Senior VP of Saulsbury IndustriesMike Mangum

On Wednesday, February 13, 2013, Michael Mangum visited Kenan-Flagler’s Family Business weekly lecture. Mr. Mangum, the Sr. Vice President and Director of Saulsbury Industries, spoke to the class about his experience as a non-family executive with the engineering and construction firm after being Chairman of C.C. Mangum, a highway contract and asphalt producer founded by his grandfather in 1927.

From the beginning of his lecture, Mr. Mangum stressed his premise for the day: sustainability. He emphasized that success is necessary for a business to continue, but “just because you are great does not mean you are sustainable.” In family businesses, he witnessed many factors that can derail success: lust for money, using the business to serve family, and lack of communication. Mr. Mangum highlighted the ability to attend to the needs of each person (owner, family, or worker) as key to moving from success to sustainability.

A lesson that resounded with me came from Mr. Mangum via the film, Field of Dreams. One particular scene from the movie refers to expecting the unexpected (“He’s not gonna wanna load the bases, so look low and away…But watch out for in your ear.”). Over Mr. Mangum’s career, he expected to find the relationships between family, ownership, and the workforce of a firm to be quite separate from one another. The reality, he found, was that the interrelationships among these groups are more like the Family Business Three Circle Model, where any one person can be a part of one, two, or even all three of these groups.

 On behalf of the Family Business class at Kenan-Flagler, I want to thank Michael Mangum for providing his unique and inspiring perspectives and lessons to all of us.