Sometimes a succession plan involves champagne and bruschetta at Del Frisco’s swanky steak house in Center City. And sometimes it involves throwing a chair against the wall. William A. Graham 4th, 76, chairman of the Graham Co., has had it both ways in a three-generation, father-and-son saga that’s about love and rivalry and the need for each generation to make its own way.

 There’s no question that Graham preferred the champagne party at Del Frisco’s to the tense handoff that accompanied his buying the insurance company his father started in 1960.“Everybody was so excited and so exhilarated,” Graham said about the Del Frisco party March 2, when he told company employees that they would become Graham’s future owners.

Under an employee stock-ownership plan, the company will use some of its profits to buy the firm from Graham, his son and daughter, and his 36 top executive shareholders, paying them gradually over the next 10 to 12 years. Meanwhile, the rest of the profits go into a retirement fund for the firm’s 180 employees, owners as of March 1.

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