By Pat Soldano, published in the Seattle Times.

It is unlikely you will see the worry on their faces. Yet, they know something is coming for them.

It came for people like Casey Roscoe, a former marketing executive for family-owned Seneca, a lumber company in Oregon, and Mark Peters, son of the founder of Butterball Farms in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It specializes in products made from butter.  

You would never know they faced the fear of existential threat, but it’s inside them, and yet they are the lucky ones. Hard work, a lifetime of risking their savings and some smart decisions allowed them to make it in America. So, why worry?

You could ask George Bartell the same question, the former chairman of Seattle’s own Bartell Drugs, the iconic 67-store chain founded in the Central District in 1890 by George’s grandfather.

The common thread between these three people is they own, or owned, a family business. Bartell’s was sold to Rite-Aid two years ago.

It could be a drugstore company, a coffee shop chain, a machine parts firm or even a newspaper. And, equally, they all know one day this family livelihood, often multigenerational, will likely have to be sold off and vanish forever. Why? It’s a complicated and old story, but it often comes down to death and taxes. And, selling is often the only logical answer.

Research shows that family enterprises make up $7.7 trillion of our annual GDP and represent 59% of the country’s private workforce. Family businesses in America consist of 23.7% in manufacturing, 10.4% in construction/facilities and 9.75% in real estate.


Family Enterprise USA Family Enterprise USA promotes family business and job creation, growth, viability, and sustainability by advocating for family businesses, their lifetime of savings, and the issues they face running their businesses every day. The issues we fight for or against with Congress in Washington DC are high Income Tax Rates, possible elimination of Valuation Discounts, increase in Capital Gains Tax, enactment of a Wealth Tax, and the continued burden of the Estate Tax (death tax), and with the possible elimination of Step up in Basis. Family Enterprise USA represents and celebrates all sizes, and industries of family businesses and multi-generational employers.

Family Enterprise USA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Family foundations can donate.


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The need for fact-based reporting of issues important to multi generational businesses and protecting a lifetime of savings has never been greater. Now more than ever, multi generational businesses and family businesses are under fire. That's why Family Enterprise USA is passionately working to increase the awareness of issues important to generationally-owned family businesses built on hard work, while continuing to strengthen our presence on Capitol Hill. The issues we fight for or against with Congress in Washington DC are high Income Tax Rates, possible elimination of Valuation Discounts, increase in Capital Gains Tax, enactment of a Wealth Tax, and the continued burden of the Estate Tax (death tax), and with the possible elimination of Step up in Basis.

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