Family business takes centre stage on TV

By Giulia Cambieri

There is no doubt that family businesses have gained prominence on TV lately. First it was Alex Polizzi’s new BBC show that focused on family-controlled firms. Now, a California-based family-owned vinery has made headlines for participating in the latest episode of CBS's Undercover Boss.

Rick Tigner, president of family-controlled winemaker Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, was featured on the episode that aired in the US on 29 January.

Despite not being a member of the founding family, Tigner has been working at the Santa Rosa-based winery, which in 2010 was the US's top-selling brand for bottles over $15 (€11.50), for the past 20 years, becoming president in May 2010.

For Undercover Boss, he stepped out of his office and visited different parts of the vinery, meeting employees and getting a deeper understanding of how the family business works.

At the end of the episode, Tigner established a new annual lifetime achievement award, and offered money and vacations to the best employees he met.

"Going on Undercover Boss was a terrific opportunity to look, listen and learn," Tigner said in a statement. "[It] let me both pay homage to the legacy of founder Jess Jackson, while also learning some good lessons about how to continually improve the company he built."

Jess Jackson and his wife Jane Kendall founded Kendall-Jackson in 1982, after turning an 80-acre pear and walnut orchard into a vineyard. Today, Jess’s son-in-law Don Hartford sits on the board.