According to Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business, the average lifespan of a family-owned business is 24 years. Meanwhile, about 40% of U.S. family-owned businesses transition to a second-generation, the college reports. Approximately 13% are passed to a third generation, while 3% survive to a fourth. San Antonio-based Steves & Sons Inc. has upended those odds many times over—not only succeeding for 158 years, but now transitioning to a sixth generation of leadership.

“Our great, great grandfather started a lumber company in 1866, and we are proud to say it is the oldest family-owned company in our industry,” said Edward Galt Steves, CEO. “Entrepreneurism was passed on generation to generation.”

Now Edward, and brother, Sam Bell Steves II, president and chief operating officer (COO), are stepping down—passing the torch to a sixth generation. Both will continue to play an active role, serving as co-chairs of the company’s board of directors. 

The new leadership team will include Gloria Galt Steves, as vice-chair of the board of directors, Sam Bell Steves III (Tres), as CEO, Doug Gartner, as president, and Scott Lovett, as COO.

“We certainly consider this good news for this family and this company,” Sam Steves said.

Edward and Sam “have been instrumental in guiding Steves & Sons to its current position as a leader in the industry,” officials said. “Their leadership and vision have been pivotal in the company’s growth and success.”

As co-chairs for the company’s board, both will remain actively involved, overseeing operations of the company’s new molded door skin plant in Athens, Georgia.

As for new leadership, Gartner previously served as vice president of branch operations. With over 36 years of industry experience and what officials describe as “proven performance [that is] second to none in the Steves organization,” he brings valuable insights and leadership to the role of president, they said.

Lovett, who previously served as vice president of operations and now takes on an expanded role as COO, will “leverage his ability to enhance both the customer and employee experience at every level,” company officials suggested. “His focus on operational efficiency and fostering a positive work environment for team members will further strengthen Steves’ commitment to excellence at all levels,” they added.
“I am excited to continue my partnership with my cousin, Tres, and we are proud to announce this leadership transition as we continue to build on the strong foundation that my father Edward and my uncle Sam have established,” said Gloria Galt Steves, newly appointed vice-chair of the board. “Our focus remains on maintaining the high standards of quality and service that our customers expect, while driving the company forward with new and exciting opportunities.”

Tres Steves, incoming CEO, said he’s honored to head a sixth generation of leadership.

“I am honored to step into this role and lead our dedicated team,” Tres said. “We will continue to uphold the values and traditions that have made Steves & Sons the trusted name in the industry, while embracing innovation and growth. We are excited to have Doug and Scott join our senior leadership team. Their combined expertise and leadership will be invaluable as we continue to grow and innovate. Together, we are committed to driving Steves & Sons forward, ensuring we remain at the forefront of the industry.”

Officials said a strategic succession plan ensures that Steves and Sons will remain a family-owned and operated business for generations to come.

“I am mindful that we have all been entrusted with a legacy passed down from generations of our family before us,” Sam Steves said. “We are confident this next generation will take care of this company during their watch, just as we were charged by our own father 36 years ago when we took over leadership.”

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