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Clogs to Clogs

If you have ever heard the expression clogs to clogs then you will know that it is an old proverb which originated in Lancashire. The same expression as saying shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations. It means that what ever you do once you rise up within three  generations the family would have lost it all again.


The expression originated out of Northern England as the factory workers all wore clogs to work and by saying clogs to clogs it means that your family will go through a cycle of rags to riches and back to rags within 3 generations. The proverb was first noted in writing by J Kelly in 1721 in England. Over the years many people thought that this could be avoided and many stated (1938 R. G. Collingwood Principles of Art v) that the curse of God rested on idleness and those who inherit become idle and pushes their family back into rags. Family businesses therefore are always watched for this.

The BBC noted the comment from Nigel Nicholson, “Families who think they can outsmart the gene pool by grooming  junior to take over are making their businesses hostages to fortune” . There are a number of reasons why this occurs and it not so much that the business becomes mis-managed but that there is sentimental value which can create a problem.

1. Your father started a business selling boots. Today nobody buys boots, but instead of letting it go you try to save that which you cannot save even though the market for them is dead. You expend your last life savings try to save it pushing yourself and the business into debt instead of changing the items you sell.

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2. Fights over money or brand and the whole saga of Adidas and Puma are well known and documented. Sibling rivalry is always a problem. Two brothers had a dispute and they made two brands in the end. Today Adidas is no longer German, but French.

Now this can all be avoided IF the parties take outside advice with regards to their business and will ensure that they do not go from rags to riches or clogs to clogs in three generations.

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