SOUTH PORTLAND — The future weighs heavily on Scott Brown, co-owner and sixth-generation operator of Maine’s oldest retail business, S.L. Wadsworth & Son, as he imagines the next steps for his 195-year-old family business.

But for one night, he got to celebrate and pay tribute to his family and predecessors.

S.L. Wadsworth in Eastport, the nation’s oldest ship chandlery, Monday won the Institute for Family-Owned Business’ Maddy Corson Award, which recognizes a superior family-owned businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

Including Brown’s son, the business has had seven generations of family members stock the shelves and work the cash register of the hardware, general merchandise and gift shop.

“It’s really hard for me to think about the future,” Brown said. “It would be emotional for me to see it end.”

S.L. Wadsworth was one of several family-owned businesses highlighted by the Institute for Family-Owned Business during Monday’s awards ceremony at the Marriott at Sable Oaks, which drew about 300 people.

Other winners Monday included the Morong automotive dealership in Falmouth, which won the Leon Gorman Award for businesses with more than 25 employees; Industrial Roofing Cos. of Lewiston, which won a customer service award; Portland chocolatier Dean’s Sweets, which captured the community service award; and Hurley Travel Experts of Portland, which got the First Generation Award.

Family-owned businesses represent about 80 percent of all businesses in Maine, yet less than 30 percent survive to the second generation and only 13 percent make it to the third generation, according to the institute.

Downeast Energy is one Maine family-owned business that recently changed hands to an outsider. Last month, Downeast, one of Maine’s largest oil dealers, was sold to an Oklahoma company, ending three generations of ownership by the Morrell family of Brunswick.

Deborah Delp, president and a second-generation co-owner of Yankee Marina and Boatyard in Yarmouth, credited the institute for helping her family tackle issues big and small, from succession planning and corporate governance to simply setting boundaries when needed.

“Take a dysfunctional family and have a successful business and they can destroy that business. All families have their issues,” Delp said.

Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: [email protected]