A Historic Rite Of Passage

viable model for black businesses — especially family-owned and -operated BE 100S companies — where founders grapple with issues of management succession and continuity. According to management consulting firm Grant Thornton, about 70% of family-run businesses never make it to the second generation and 90% don’t make it to the third, even though there is a genuine desire by most owners to see continuation in the family. The reasons: poor succession planning and an inability to separate generational issues from business objectives. We know of such horror stories among black-owned companies. For years, we have covered such tragedies on the pages of this magazine. However, from the beginning, Butch and I were always on the same page.

You see, I have planned for this event since I first took my boys to the printer to witness the first issue of BE rolling off the presses. I knew back then I was creating something historic, an institution worthy of preserving. As the magazine gained traction and grew in influence, I made sure that Butch was properly trained for his new role as well as the complexities of American industry. I made sure that he received the best education, graduating from Yale University and Harvard Business School. I encouraged him to serve on boards and be active in industry organizations, ranging from the Magazine Publishers Association to the National Association of Investment Companies, which furnished him with fresh ideas and valuable contacts. I emphasized giving back and helping others achieve success, encouraging his involvement in organizations such as the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. I challenged him to embrace new technology — even some I didn’t know how to use — to increase productivity and expand our business services. I taught him the rudiments of the magazine business in the early days and helped him make key business connections along the way. Since the day Butch walked through our doors as an employee, I’ve exposed him to every sale, negotiation, and major business decision I’ve made. In the process, he became one of my most trusted business advisers and confidantes.

Butch’s achievements coincided with the evolution of the company. He has been our key driving force and has developed into a true visionary. On numerous occasions, he has introduced me to this next generation of entrepreneur and BE reader, some of whom operate in unconventional business modes or run cutting-edge ventures. Overall, his efforts helped take Earl G. Graves Ltd. from a single-title magazine publisher to a thriving multimedia conglomerate. During his tenure, the circulation of our award-winning magazine has grown from 200,000 subscribers to more than 500,000, and he pushed our editorial thrust to focus on wealth building and homeownership. He championed the development of blackenterprise.com, a Website that enables users to access information and make financial and business transactions. He created the concept of our private equity firm, Black Enterprise/Greenwich Street Corporate Growth Partners, which primarily invests in established, minority-owned businesses. He pushed us into broadcast media and syndicated radio with the launch of The Black

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