A Tradition of Excellence
November 08, 2019
By Melissa Gottleib
The oldest family-owned, continuously operated, highly diverse food services company in the United States is Lessing’s Hospitality Group -- which is located right here on Long Island. The company was founded in 1890 and today represents six generations of Lessings. Starting out with coffee shops and lunch counters, then moving into corporate dining in lower Manhattan, building a catering empire, and finally venturing into franchise agreements, Lessing’s has proven time and time again success can come from within.
At the EisnerAmper Long Island Business Summit, Michael Lessing, president and COO of Lessing’s, sat down to talk with Lisë Stewart, principal-in-charge of EisnerAmper’s Center for Family Business. Michael said the secret to a family owned and run business that has lasted six generations is careful succession planning.
Michael discussed the issues inherent in the “cousin consortium” – the period where the third generation enters an organization, creating new concerns and perhaps broadening business processes, values, and leadership. At that point, the Lessing family had already been focusing on the different skill sets each of the individual family members had and had hired an outside consulting firm to analyze both the family dynamics and the company. He cited two important points: The business has a board, members of which are both family members and non-family members; and that family members who wish to join the company must first work with a non-Lessing’s entity to learn the food industry.
Michael is very confident about the future of the company; their most recent expansion is into Florida, but he stressed the family’s motto of loving what they do and their home here on Long Island.