According to Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business, about 40% of U.S. family-owned businesses transition to a second generation. The odds for a third generation are even slimmer, at approximately 13%. A fourth is nearly improbable, at just 3%.

“If you read the reports, it’s usually the third generation that gets it wrong,” says Todd Gilbert, CEO of Valley Companies, who is himself a third-generation owner. But Gilbert was determined—not only to succeed, making his father and grandfather proud, but to take Valley farther than ever.

“The way that I work and what fuels me is the challenge,” he says. “It was the challenge of being successful through generation three.”

Thirty-two years later, Gilbert has done more than just succeed as a third-generation owner; he has seen Valley through the transition of becoming a leading provider of customized logistics and managed transportation solutions. Now he has the pleasure of watching his company upend the odds—again—by appointing his son, Brandon, director of logistics partnerships, making him the first fourth-generation employee to join Valley on a full-time basis.

“I always had this vision of that same story repeating itself, and a fourth generation joining Valley,” Todd says. “But the family has this unwritten rule for our children. They need to go and get some experience elsewhere and go see what’s out there. Brandon did it. And he did it the right way, proving himself through hard work and personal success.”

As a teenager, Brandon’s earliest experiences with the family business included working alongside family, following his uncle Eric, Valley’s director of contract logistics, and great uncles Harry and Bob, who help in the company’s warehouse.

“I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” he says. “I also learned what it means to be a Gilbert working for the family business.”

Uncles Bob and Harry wouldn’t pass by even the smallest piece of trash on Valley’s dock without stopping to pick it up, he says, adding, “It’s about pride and understanding that the little things matter.”

He later served in an internship position at Valley as a freight broker and in the company’s warehouse solution, while earning a Bachelor of Science degree in logistics, materials and supply chain management from Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business. After earning his degree, he then served as a merchandiser for Scoular, a transportation, logistics, supply chain and storage company, where he was responsible for domestic and international commodities trading, including rate negotiations, contracts management and logistics execution. He was the first employee in the company’s history to graduate from a two-year management program ahead of schedule. In true Gilbert fashion, his focus at Scoular was on building customer and supplier relationships. And in true Gilbert style, he excelled at his position.

“Not only did Brandon have relationships with the asset-based partners that provided transportation for his prior company and its clients, but he also created relationships with his customers,” Todd Gilbert says. “With Valley, he’s going to be having those same conversations, gaining an understanding of our customers and how we can improve to meet more of their needs. Valley’s customers will benefit from his drive and his experience.”

Todd Gilbert says he always saw his son’s potential in becoming a fourth-generation Gilbert at Valley. “But you’ve still got to prove it,” he says. “It’s time. He’s ready. He’s earned it. And in him we have a tremendous opportunity.”

Is logistics in the Gilbert blood?

“I don’t know,” Brandon Gilbert says. “I tend to think it’s less about nature and more about nurture. I think I learned it from the ground up—starting at the dinner table.”