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Growing family business

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Produced by the Oregon Business marketing department


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Susan Webb-Grimmett and Henry Grimmett, winners of the Small Family Business of the year award in 2008. 
// Photo by Jason Kaplan

When the Portland-based manufacturing company Glass Alchemy, Ltd. was first nominated for an Oregon State University Austin Family Business Excellence in Family Business award in 2004, husband-and-wife team Henry Grimmett and Susan Webb-Grimmett, were honored and optimistic about their chances of winning.

Since Glass Alchemy’s initial nomination nearly a decade ago, the company had gone through the application process three times before being selected as the Small Family Business of the year in 2008. In the years since its initial nomination, the family has been able to review their business with assistance from the Austin Family Business Program and make impactful changes for a more sustainable future. When the family won the award in 2008, it was after the next generation, siblings Thomas and Jodi Grimmett, had joined the business, and the two generations were able to work together with the transition of the business at the forefront. “When we completed the first nomination process, our perspective was altered. It was a real grounding experience,” Webb-Grimmett says. “The business was no longer just about us; it was about the future of our entire family, which would be healthy and strong with a well-planned succession.”

The Austin Family Business Program’s annual awards event, set for Nov. 21 this year, does more than honor family-owned Oregon businesses. Webb-Grimmett learned, as have many other families who have participated, that the event reflects the program’s educational mission: to provide the resources family members need to manage and grow their businesses.

“The application process and the recognition event have been successful for years because they provide an opportunity for families to measure their business relative to practices that support longevity,” says Sherri Noxel, Austin Family Business Program Director. “Going through the application process is a valuable educational opportunity.”

The Austin Family Business Program offers year-round and in-depth business education specifically for family enterprises. Through university courses, publications, networking opportunities and the newly launched Family Business 360° series, the program offers a complete range of resources.

The recognition event itself is built upon an educational foundation. Since the Austin Family Business Program hosted its first awards ceremony in 1988, the selection process has continually become more rigorous. Candidates undergo a peer-reviewed process that provides feedback based on an in-depth application.

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