Case Detail

Case Summary

What's in a Family Legacy? Balancing Family Emotions and Business Growth at Luse Holdings

Case Number: 5-416-758, Year Published: 2017

HBS Number: KEL994

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Authors: John Ward

Key Concepts

Family Businesses, Growth Strategy, Leadership, Succession Planning


After decades of continuity, Luse Holdings faced a new challenge in 2015. The company needed to pivot in a changing industry context—specifically, Luse had lost a bid to a non-union competitor for the first time—and CEO and fourth-generation member Steve Luse was considering three primary options: (1) continue as is, while also adding non-union services; (2) sell part of the business to reduce family risk; or (3) sell the entire business to fund other family interests. A fourth possible option was a maximization-of-growth alternative.

This decision involved more than business considerations alone. The family's legacy as an industry champion and community philanthropist also required considering all relevant stakeholders, including immediate and extended family, employees, and community. Complicating the situation was the lack of an immediately identifiable successor in the next generation of the Luse family, though several fifth-generation members had completed internships with the business—including Steve's daughter Ashley, a recent MBA graduate. Students will step into Steve's shoes as he considers what recommendations to make to the advisory board six months from now. Students can also take the perspective of Ashley, a rising next-generation member: should she join the family business?

Learning Objectives

Students will discuss the fundamental paradox of family business and how personal dreams and family factors affect business strategy; examine the role of a family business versus an "enterprising family" in perpetuating a legacy; evaluate the purpose of growth for a family business and how this differs based on the family and its specific set of values; explore the opportunities and necessities of growth for a mid-sized private business; and assess the typical constraints on growth for family-owned businesses.

Number of Pages: 14

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Family Business, Strategy

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: United States, Illinois, Chicago

Industry: Construction

Organization Name: Luse Holdings, Inc.

Organization Size: Medium

Decision Maker Position: CEO

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 2015