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Top 100 family businesses in North America

Family businesses are alive and well in the US, with the top 100 generating approximately $1.6 trillion to America’s $14.6 trillion GDP in 2010.

Family businesses are alive and well in the US, with the top 100 generating approximately $1.6 trillion to America’s $14.6 trillion GDP in 2010. Just under half of the top 100 are owned outright by the family, a higher proportion than in Europe, where Campden’s top 100 family business for the region found that less than a third were fully controlled by the family.

This may be because many North American family businesses are very regional – often with operations only in a few states – and consequently unlikely to use public markets to grow the business outside of their region.

Walmart dominates the list with revenues, on which the ranking is based, of just under $420 billion in 2010. The world’s biggest supermarket chain, still more than 40% owned by the Walton family, continues to expand and is focusing increasingly on emerging markets. Nearly a fourth of the size of the supermarket chain is second place Ford, with revenues of around $129 billion last year. Of course, Walmart and Ford have a publicly-listed part of their business. The top fully private family- controlled business on the list is the agricultural commodities giant Cargill, closely followed by Koch Industries.

The first Canadian company on the list is the retailer George Weston, controlled by the Weston family, which had revenues of $32 billion last year. But a number of family-controlled Canadian businesses were not included on the list because of a lack of transparency on revenues, ownership or both. These included the big mining and oil companies like the Mancal Group and JD Irving – the latter is likely to have revenues of more than $30 billion but it is impossible to quantify from any source. Other secretive Canadian family-controlled companies likely to have made this list include Kingsmill Foods and Cara Operations.

Another noticeable trend on the list is the large number of family businesses in the food sector – these include retailers like Publix Super Markets, C&S Wholesales Grocers and HE Butt Grocery, and producers like Tyson Foods and Perdue. Media family dynasties are represented by the likes of News Corporation, controlled by the Murdochs, Cox Enterprises, and Thomson Reuters.

The table lists the company, the family/families controlling the 25% or above of capital, the country where the company is based, revenues for 2010 and 2009, and how much of the company is owned by the family/families/family-controlled foundations. Many of the 2010 revenue figures were estimates because a chunk of corporate America has yet to report its results.

There are many difficulties in compiling a list like this, not least that families often channel ownership through diverse vehicles and might have multiple shareholding structures, but through our detailed research, including direct contact with many of the businesses, CampdenFB was able to compile the list.

To be included in the list, businesses must have met all the criteria listed below:
• At least one representative of the family or kin is formally involved in the governance of the company;
• Publicly-listed companies meet the definition of family enterprise if the person who established or acquired the firm or their families or descendants possess 25% of the decision-making rights mandated by their share capital; and
• The share capital controlled by the family is at least in the second generation or beyond.

Campden would like to acknowledge the help of John Ward, professor of family enterprise at Kellogg School of Management, in compiling the list, which was ranked solely on revenues and makes no judgement on the success of the companies included.







Company Family Country Sector Revenue 2010 (bn) Revenue 2009 (bn) Family ownership
Walmart Walton US Food retail $419.00* $405.00* 44.7%
Ford Ford US Automobiles $128.95 $116.28 40% v
Cargill Cargill/MacMillan US Agriculture $107.90* $115.10* 90%
Koch Industries Koch US Oil/agriculture $106.00+ $100.00 84%
Comcast Roberts US Media $37.90 $35.75 33.3% v
News Corp Murdoch US Media $32.81* $30.42* 39.7%v
George Weston Weston Canada Food $32.00 $31.82 62.5%
Mars Mars US Food $30.00 $28.00 100%
Tyson Foods Tyson US Food $28.43* $26.70* 69.8%v
Bechtel Group Bechtel US Construction $27.90 $30.80 100%
Publix Super Markets Jenkins US Food retail $25.10* $24.32* 68.55%
C&S Wholesale Grocers Cohen US Food retail $19.40* $20.40* 100%
Bombardier Beaudoin-Bombardier Canada Manufacturing $17.71* $19.36* 54.2%v
Love's Love US Retail $17.00+ $12.60 100%
HE Butt Grocery Butt US Food retail $16.20+* $15.10* 100%
Empire Company Sobey Canada Food retail $15.51* $15.01* 88.11%v
Gap Fisher US Retail $14.66* $14.19* 32%
Loews Corporation Tisch US Conglomerate $14.61 $14.11 32%
Cox Enterprises Cox US Media $14.60 $14.30 99%v
Meijer Meijer US Food retail $14.10* $14.25+* 100%
Reyes Holdings Reyes US Food and beverage $13.50+ $12.50 100%
Thomson Reuters Thomson Canada Media $13.06 $12.94 55%
Enterprise Holdings Taylor US Transportation $12.60 $12.10 100%
Fidelity Investments Johnson US Finance $12.30 $11.49 50%+
Rogers Communications Rogers Canada Media $12.18 $11.73 90.9%
Marriott International Marriott US Hotels $11.69 $10.90 36.5%
Canadian Tire Billes Canada Conglomerate $10.32 $10.02 61.4%
Cumberland Farms Haseotes US Food retail $10.00*+ $6.57* 100%
Nordstrom Nordstrom US Retail $9.31* $8.25* 25.79%
JM Family Enterprises Moran US Retail $9.30 $8.40 100%
Huntsman Corporation Huntsman US Chemicals $9.25 $7.66 37.02%
Amway Andel & DeVos US Retail $9.20 $8.40 100%
SC Johnson and Son Johnson US Retail $9.00+* $8.96* 100%
Gordon Food Service Gordon US Food retail $8.50+* $7.14* 100%
Giant Eagle Shapira US Food Retail $8.20* $8.61* 100%
Menards Menard US Retail $8.00* $6.95* 100%
Estee Lauder Companies Lauder US Retail $7.79 $7.32 83%
Advance Publications Newhouse US Media $7.30+ $6.25 100%
Jim Pattison Group Pattison Canada Conglomerate $7.20 $5.90 100%
Carlson Company Carlson US Travel & hospitality $6.50 $3.90  100%
McCain Foods McCain Canada Food $6.24* $6.10* 100%
Saputo Saputo Canada Food $6.04* $6.02* 33.67%v
Wegmans Food Markets Wegman US Food retail $5.60 $5.15 100%
Meadowbrook Meat Company Wordsworth US Food $5.55 $5.99 100%
Maple Leaf Foods McCain Canada Food $5.17 $5.44 31.34%v
RaceTrac Bolch US Food retail $5.00 + $4.70 100%
Kelly Services Adderley US Business services $4.95* $4.31* 93%v
The Washington Post Company Graham US Media $4.72* $4.38* 70%v
Perdue Perdue US Food $4.60 $4.50 100%
JR Simplot Company Simplot US Food $4.60 $4.50 100%
Sheetz Sheetz US Food retail $4.50* $4.01* 100%
Levi Strauss Haas US Retail $4.41* $4.10* 100%
Kohler Kohler US Construction $4.30+ $4.68 96%+
James Richardson & Sons Richardson Canada Agriculture & finance $4.20+ $4.08 100%
Hallmark Cards Hall US Retail $4.10 $3.72 66.6%+
Cascades Lemaire Canada Packaging and papers $4.07 $4.04 32%
Dot Foods Tracy US Food $3.70+ $3.40 100%
Gulf States Toyota Friedkin US Transporation $3.65+ $4.10 100%
Golub Corporation Golub US Food retail $3.60+ $3.30 100%
Shaw Communications Shaw Canada Media $3.54* $3.87* 79%
Hyatt Hotels Corporation Pritzker US Hotels $3.52 $3.33 73%v
Grocers Supply Levit US Food retail $3.40+ $3.01 100%
Belk Belk US Retail $3.35* $3.50* 85%+
Walsh Group Walsh  US Construction $3.34 $3.32 100%
Hearst Corporation Hearst US Media $3.25 $3.85 100%
Molson Coors Brewing Company Coors/Molson US Beverages $3.25 $3.03 42.5%v
Brown-Forman Brown US Beverages $3.22* $3.19* 67.2%v
Raley's supermarkets Teel US Food retail $3.20 $3.10 100%
E & J Gallo Winery Gallo US Beverages $3.17+ $3.00 100%
Holiday Companies Erickson US Food retail $3.15+ $3.00 100%
Schneider National Schneider US Transportatin $3.10 $2.90 100%
Gilbane Gilbane US Construction $3.05+ $3.14 100%
Rich products Rich US Food $3.00+ $2.90 100%
Drummond Company Drummond US Mining $3.00 $2.85 100%
Follett Corporation Follett US Retail $2.95+ $2.72 100%
Amkor Technology Kim US Manufacturing $2.94 $2.18 55.9%
Swift Transportation Moyes US Transportation $2.92 $2.57 62.2%
Alex Lee George US Food retail $2.90+ $3.00  100%
The Lefrak Organization LeFrak US Property $2.70+ $2.80 100%
Schnuck Markets Schnuck US Food retail $2.60+ $2.50 100%
American Financial Group Lindner US Finance $2.55 $2.41 25%
Jean Coutu Group Coutu Canada Pharmaceuticals $2.54* $2.36* 55%
WL Gore and Associates Gore US Retail $2.53+ $2.60+ 75%+
EllisDon Smith Canada Construction $2.51+ $2.39 55%
Asplundh Tree Expert Company Asplundh US Business services $2.50 $2.38 100%
Milliken and Co Milliken  US Manufacturing $2.48+ $2.27 50%
Foster Farms Foster US Food $2.47+ $2.20 100%
Young's Market Company Underwood US Beverages $2.45+ $2.12  100%
Ebsco Industries Stephens US Media $2.40+ $2.30 100%
Wilbur-Ellis Wilbur US Chemicals $2.35+ $2.20 100%
Fry's Electronics Fry US Manufacturing $2.30+ $2.10 100%
Plastipak Holdings Young US Packaging $2.10+ $2.00 100%
Hunt Construction Group Hunt US Construction $2.00+ $2.14 100%
JE Dunn Construction Group Dunn US Construction $1.90 $2.30 95%
Day & Zimmermann Group Yoh  US Construction $1.85+ $2.14 100%
Zachry Corporation Zachry  US Construction $1.80+ $1.94  100%
EA Fish Companies Fish  US Construction $1.70+ $1.70 100%
American Greetings Weiss US Retail $1.59* $1.64* 45%
Valhi Simmons US Conglomerate $1.59 $1.27 92.2%
84 Lumber Hardy US Construction $1.45+ $1.35 100%


+ Estimates
* Fiscal year
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