There was always a job for a ÆF family member at SteinW¡ berg Inc. Perhaps too many. 1 Sam Steinberg immigrated to Montreal with his mother Ida % from Hungary and in 1920 she opened a small grocery store in
the heart of the city’s Jewish district. He took over in 1930, and Steinberg Inc. eventually grew into a giant grocery retailer with annual sales of $1.5 billion. As it grew, Sam Steinberg involved dozens of relatives in the company—including his daughters Evelyn, Marilyn and Mitzi. He died in 1978, and in 1986, after leaving the helm of one Steinberg’s troubled subsidiaries, Mitzi threw herself into the operation of the family trust funds, which were being run by Evelyn and Marilyn. Their disagreements were immediate and came to a head when Mitzi proposed to sell the cornpany. Outraged, Evelyn and Marilyn wanted her removed from Steinberg’s board of directors.Mitzi dragged them into court in a
battle for control. As they fought, the firm began to lose money. Stores were closed and employees dismissed. Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa called for an end to the layoffs. But as the firm’s troubles mounted, pressure to sell increased. In 1989, a group of investors led by the province’s powerful Caisse de dépôt et placement du Quebec purchased the supermarkets for $250 million. But the wounds within the family may take years to heal. “I’m a fighter,” said Marilyn, “and Mitzi is a fighter, too.”
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