University of Pittsburgh
December 11, 2007

Owners of Kennywood Accomplished What Few Family Businesses Ever Achieve, Says Pitt Business Expert Ann Dugan

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PITTSBURGH-"Any time a region loses family ownership in a business, it loses a lot," says Ann Dugan, founder and executive director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence and a renowned family business consultant.

Family business owners tend to be more active in a community and more devoted to the long-term health of a region, says Dugan. They often demonstrate a commitment to their region by serving on local nonprofit boards and offering philanthropic support to area organizations. They also may be more likely to retain employees long-term, Dugan adds, and slower to cut staff as a result of market fluctuations or short-term swings in the economy.

"The Henninger and McSwigan families have been pillars of our community and devoted regional citizens," Dugan says, adding that the families had worked very hard to maintain family ownership across generations, and said it remains to be seen how many family members will continue to reside in Western Pennsylvania and devote time and resources to the region.

The family owners of Kennywood have accomplished what few family businesses ever achieve, says Dugan. Only 40 percent of all family businesses survive to the second generation, 12 percent to the third generation, and 3 percent to the fourth. The Henninger and McSwigan families were in their fourth and fifth generations of ownership, respectively.

Dugan, nevertheless, is optimistic about what new ownership might be able to do for Kennywood Park.

"Obviously the international company bought into what was there and the values that have made the organization successful for so long," Dugan says. "In addition to retaining all the great things the family owners have created, Parques Reunidos has the potential to add more resources to the park and further enhance it."

Created to foster the growth and development of family businesses and entrepreneurial firms, seed innovation, and promote technology transfer, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence engages the enterprising community with teaching, research, and outreach to a range of organizations through its many initiatives and programs. Dugan is an accomplished author, lecturer, and family business consultant with more than 20 years of experience researching, developing, and writing in the areas of family business, strategic planning, development of the franchise system, and the dynamics of the entrepreneurial firm. Dugan is also an associate of the Family Business Consulting Group, an organization that provides leadership in the field of education and consulting to the closely held or family firm.

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence is part of Pitt's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.