Family Business Blog Archive

Convenient way to keep up with

family business blog archive


An Obituary Printed in the London Times:

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: – Knowing when to come in out of the rain; – Why the early bird gets the worm; – Life isn’t always fair; – And maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death -by his parents, Truth and Trust, -by his wife, Discretion, -by his daughter, Responsibility, -and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers: – I Know My Rights – I Want It Now – Someone Else Is To Blame – I’m A Victim – Pay me for Doing Nothing.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

Government Regulators Out of Control

“Government regulatory agencies may be the biggest threat to American entrepreneurship and family-owned businesses,” according to family business expert Don Schwerzler.

A just released report documents the scope of out of control federal regulatory agencies:

Federal Agencies Missed 1,400 Regulatory Deadlines

Collectively, federal agencies missed 1,400 deadlines in the past 10 years, a new R Street Institute study finds. That amounts to nearly half the deadlines Congress set in law. •The Food and Drug Administration was late in developing regulations for food sold in vending machines.

•The Department of Commerce was slow in issuing regulations to reduce accidental deaths of bottlenose dolphins from commercial fishing.

•The Department of Transportation was dilatory in finalizing rules to suspend the licenses of truck drivers convicted of safety violations.

•The Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies missed half the Obamacare regulatory deadlines.

Missing a regulatory deadline is a violation of federal law. Inevitably, regulations have costs and benefits for whomever is being regulated. New rules also affect agency operations by adding tasks to their workload. Knowing what a regulation will require, and when it will take effect, helps affected individuals, businesses and authorities prepare for the changes.

Remarkably, Congress itself has no system to oversee all the regulatory deadlines it assigns. When drafting a bill that imposes new deadlines, members have no way to see how many deadlines already have been assigned to an agency or whether they\'ve been met. Committee staffs try to follow regulatory policy, but it\'s very much catch-as-catch can.

With about 2,700 new regulations issued and another 4,000 finalized each year, there simply is not enough manpower or hours in the day.

Source: Kevin R. Kosar, "Federal Agencies Missed 1,400 Regulatory Deadline," Roll Call, August 5, 2015.

If you are a family business owner, we extend an invitation to voice your concerns and insights in our Family Business Forum – simply click on

Chip-enabled Payment Card Deadline – Oct 1st

One problem we find in so many family businesses is their “risk management awareness”, notes Don Schwerzler, a family business master strategist. The owners are either unaware of potential problems – or they understate the potential threat to their business.

So many family business entrepreneurs are already working in a stressed environment caused by the scarcity of time and money – “potential” problems can easily become a backburner issue – out of sight and out of mind!

When we start working with a family business client, one of the first things we do is a “risk assessment” – to see what threats might be a “mission stopper” for that business. Potential litigation is a paramount concern – the family business owner is exposed from all quarters, 24-7! One lawsuit can destroy a family business that has taken years, even generations, to grow into a successful business – and the family’s wealth is at risk as well.

Technology changes in the market place can also be a hidden threat – a ticking time bomb for the family business owner.

For instance, Oct 1st is the deadline for the conversion to the new chip-enabled payment card – and the new card readers. According to an article by Amrita Jayakumar published in the Washington Post (July 24th):

American consumers are beginning to receive in the mail new credit cards that add a security chip to the traditional magnetic strip that processes their payments. The hope is the new cards cut down on credit card fraud but many small businesses do not appear ready for the change.

A deadline for phasing in secure, chip-enabled payment cards across the country kicks in on Oct. 1. That’s when banks are supposed to finish distributing the new plastic to customers. Businesses will need to install new card readers to process the information on the chips. Those that do not have the new technology in place by then will be on the hook for any security lapses or fraudulent transactions, instead of payment-processing firms.

But four months before the deadline, more than 28 percent of small business owners who process payment cards are not even aware of the new technology or how it affects their business, according to a new survey by Manta, an online small business community site.

The survey polled 1,609 business owners and asked them whether or not they planned to adopt the new payment card technology by Oct. 1, with a margin of error of 2.44 percentage points.

Of those who did accept cards, the majority did not even know about the new payment technology, or why they needed to install it, the survey found. More than 16 percent of owners also said they had not seen customers using the new chip cards.

Savvy family business entrepreneurs include routine risk assessments as part of their operational protocols. To learn more about Risk Management – go to

Family Business Security Alert – Business Families Held Hostage

The media has been reporting on the gruesome murders of a Washington DC business family - owner Savvas Savopoulos, his wife Amy, their 12 year old son Philip and the family housekeeper. Police are still investigating – but $40,000 in cash was delivered to the residence prior to the murders and that suggests that the family was being held hostage for ransom.

Another incident happened just a few days ago in Fort Wayne, Indiana. According to the Fort Wayne Police Department, a business family was taken hostage at their home when 6 to 7 armed individuals entered the home, bound the 4 members of the family and put cloths over their heads. The hostage takers then forced the son and the mother into the family minivan and drove them to AJ's Locker Room, which is owned by the family. The father and daughter were taken in another vehicle. The mother told police that she and her son were threatened multiple times that they would be killed if they didn't comply.

While extortion activities are not new, family business owners should be taking steps to minimize the threat to their families as hostage for ransom crimes are expected to increase.

“More than ever, business families are at risk for being held hostage for ransom,” said Don Schwerzler at a family business security workshop. A nationally recognized family business expert, Schwerzler has been consulting with family-owned businesses for more than 40 years.

The workshop presenter was family business security expert Harold Copus who directs the security division of the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute. Harold gained significant experience dealing with threat analysis as a Special Agent with the FBI.

According to Copus, “heightened awareness” is key to reducing the threat for being a victim of a hostage for ransom situation. In most situations, there are/or have been warning signs that were either ignored or inadequately handled.

When a family business owner calls us with a concern about kidnapping or extortion – Copus uses a PIP (Protective Intelligence Program” approach.

There are at least four components - Counter-surveillance, Investigation, Analysis and Liaison.


Techniques are employed to detect the criminal surveillance activities. Counter-surveillance looks for criminal suspects and is watchful of moves made after the potential victim(s) begins their daily routines.


From data gathered from counter-surveillance, photos, descriptions of cars and the homes of the criminals are located. Backgrounds checks gather information of prior criminal behavior.


The counter-surveillance information is evaluated and compared to criminal histories. The company's management team may identify the criminal suspect as being previously employed or has relatives at the company.


Once a subject profile is completed, the information is provided to the proper law enforcement agency and then we will coordinate between the family business and law enforcement.

Concerned about security for your business family? For more info go to

Environmental Issues Can Impact Family Business Succession Planning

One of the critical risk factors for a family business at succession time is dealing with environmental issues – they can become an Environmental Mission Stopper to the exit strategy of a family business owner.

“But environmental issues should also be considered as part of a family business’s risk management strategy,” suggests leading family business strategist Don Schwerzler.

AP reported that federal environmental officials and a New Jersey homebuilder have settled claims that the firm failed to control stormwater discharges, which possibly polluted rivers in the state.

Garden Homes will provide 108 acres of land for preservation within the Highlands Preservation Area in Morris County, protecting it from possible future development. This includes about 23 acres of wetlands adjacent to the Berkshire Valley Wildlife Management Area, one of the state's critical drinking water protection areas. The company also will pay a $225,000 fine.

In June 20, 2012, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Toll Brothers Inc., one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, will pay a civil penalty of $741,000 to resolve alleged Clean Water Act violations at its construction sites, including sites located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Both examples are larger-sized businesses – deep pocket businesses that were able to deal with the economic consequences of the settlements.

What about smaller-sized family businesses who are developers and home builders?

Alan Hahn, a nationally recognized environmental expert, points out that several years ago, the EPA reduced the “threshold” for those requiring Construction General Permits from 5 acres to 1 acre. “I believe it is often overlooked or poorly executed by developers, so they would be easy enforcement targets,” suggests Hahn.

“In general, the EPA is keenly focused on water and water runoff issues lately. The EPA, just in the last week, passed a very significant change to the Clean Water Act (often referred to as WOTUS) that is receiving sharp criticism as it potentially gives EPA expanded authority under the Clean Water Act.”

When we are working with a family business client, we see three categories of threats: issues that are known; unknown issues that are partially known; and issues that are unknown. Environmental risk issues can be found in all three categories.

If you are a family business owner concerned about environmental regulatory issues – our environmental experts can answer (confidentially) any questions you may have. Simply click on

Advice to family business owners – Dream Big (again)!

“Many family business owners who come to us for help complain that they always have a scarcity of time and money,” according to leading family business expert Don Schwerzler. “In fact, that is why many family businesses never achieve their true potential – they get so caught up in the “tyranny of routine” that they fail to “Dream Big”! “When that happens, it is a type of ‘entrepreneurial burn-out’- where the business is no longer producing the intellectual satisfaction for the business owner,” says Schwerzler. “The business is no longer fun…”

That could be a major reason why so many Merger & Acquisition firms seek out family businesses for investment – they know that family businesses tend to be “under-performing assets”.

One of our goals when we start working with a family business client is to understand what would be required to grow the business quickly and significantly. What we discover in this process is that the business has many potential growth opportunities – many of which are “low-hanging fruit” that inspire strategies that can be quickly executed and produce excellent results. To get started we pose this question: if the family business owner were to identify the factors he/she perceives are constraining the growth and profitability of the business – what would result? Some of the usual answers include: Expand the work space to be more efficient

Purchase new machines and upgrade their transportation fleets

Expand the customer base and territory – by acquiring other businesses

Install an ERP system to better understand and manage the business

Hire executives who have experience in exponentially growing a business

Develop strategic partnerships for horizontal and vertical integration strategies

According to Schwerzler, it doesn’t take long for the family business owner to start getting excited about his/her business – a re-invigoration that comes with “dreaming big”.

How to make those dreams a reality?

One of the resources many family businesses do not have as part of their professional service team – a family business financial expert. I am not talking about an investment advisor to help manage the owner’s portfolio. I am talking about a financial expert who can understand how to apply new capital (money and expertise) into a business – and who has the contacts in the investment and banking communities to match the needs of the family business.

If you are a family business owner and would like to learn more about how our family business financial expert can help you grow your business, click on

South Africa - Family Business Succession

Family Business Experts South Africa recently participated in a survey of family-owned businesses and the findings should be of interest to every family business in South Africa.

Interviews with inter-generational members of family businesses suggested that if innovation is going to come to a family business, transformational change requires both generations working together in the succession planning and succession management processes. In one third generation family business, the Nexters suggested “that new brooms sweep clean” – but the senior generation were quick to point out that the “old brooms knew where the dirt was”!

It is estimated that 80% of businesses in South Africa are family owned or run, but very few make it through the transition between generations. Succession planning is put on the procrastination pile - much like the stack of paper on your desk that you'll get to someday. Conceptually it sounds simple, transition the business from one generation to the next. Yet research in the US indicates that only about 30% of family business successfully transition to the second generation; only about 12% successfully transition to the 3rd generation and only about 4% successfully transition to the fourth generation. Globally these numbers don't change significantly and similar trends are found in South Africa.

Global best practices show that the opportune time to explore new innovations in a family business is during the succession planning process. The window of opportunity is widest right at the beginning of the process, long before the keys are handed over.

If you are in a family business owner and have not started thinking about succession planning and succession management, you may find yourself in a minefield of problems that could wreck the business and destroy family relationships. Ultimately, the aim of any family business is to thrive today and survive for multiple generations. You may fall short of this aim by burying succession planning in the procrastination pile.

Family Business Experts South Africa is based in Johannesburg. If you are a South African family business and would like to learn more about our work with family-owned businesses – go to

When Kids Say No to Owning the Family Business

More family businesses are finding out that their children are not interested in taking over the family’s business.

Unfortunately, the parents become aware of the intentions of their kids later rather than sooner - after the business has fewer options for the owner’s succession plan.

Recently it was reported that a shoe business that started over a hundred years ago will not be transitioning to the next generation of family business owners.

The current owner of the six store chain, the grandson of the founder, said his children are not interested in taking over the business. He has gone outside of the family to find a business partner for the business – someone who shares the values of the family.

When a family business owner is planning for retirement, a profound and basic decision must be made: whether or not to pass the business on to the next generation. For some family businesses the transition period from one generation to the next is positive and productive while other family businesses experience significant problems that can wreck the business and destroy family relationships.

“If the decision is made to not transition the business, then there are three primary options for the business owner: selling the business to internal parties (family members and/or employees), closing the business (liquidation), or cashing in by selling the business to an external entity through an acquisition,” says leading family business expert Don Schwerzler, Founder and CEO of the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute.

If you are a family business owner and starting to think about retirement planning, take a few minutes to read more about “cashing in” for some great tips and smart strategies – simply go to

Ask The Family Business Expert

Ask The Family Business Expert is a free resource for family-owned businesses.

Supported by the Family Business Experts Help Desk, family businesses are able to get a rapid and confidential response to any questions they may have about family or business issues.

“Conflict issues in a family business rarely get better by being ignored. In fact, just the opposite is true. The longer family business issues go unaddressed, the more difficult and destructive they become – where they can wreck a business and destroy family relationships,” notes family business expert Don Schwerzler.

The Atlanta-based Family Business Institute was organized in the early 80’s – the very first multi-disciplined family resource exclusively serving family-owned businesses. They have a three-fold mission:

Help family businesses to grow, significantly

Help maintain healthy family relationships

Help transition the business to the next generation or to prepare the business for sale if that is the better option for the family business owner.

Their website Family Business was launched in 2001 and is the highest-ranked full-service family business resource site on the Internet.

If you are involved in a family business and want to pose a question for our family business expert, simply use the form at the bottom of this Blog or call us at 770.237.9818.

Family Farms - A Crucial Part of US Economy

According to the Economic Research Service, small family farms dominate the total U.S. farm count and occupy more than half of U.S. farmland. Midsize and large-scale family farms account for the bulk of agricultural production.

The total farm count is dominated by small family farms―those with annual revenue below $350,000. Small family farms comprise 90 percent of all farms and account for 52 percent of the land operated by farms. Farms where operators report off-farm work as their main occupation account for 47 percent of small farms, which helps explain why many continue to exist even when financial performance is poor. Retired farmers still operating on a reduced scale make up another 18 percent.

Larger family farms, however―those with $350,000 or more in annual revenue―contribute the bulk (60 percent) of agricultural production, although for specific commodities the small-farm share of production is substantial. For example, small farms account for more than half of poultry production. Farms with sales of $1 million or more account for nearly half of total farm production. Economic Research Service

When it comes to succession planning, family farms face many difficult challenges because so often most of the family’s assets are tied to the land. This makes succession planning crucial to the survivability of farm and ranch operations.

For instance, if the senior generation dies without having a viable succession plan in place, the family may need to consider selling some/all of the land, livestock and equipment to pay the death taxes. This is often the case for smaller-sized operations that may be only marginally profitable or viable “stand alone” businesses.

There is also another serious stress point that can impact family relationships – between those family members working the farm and those family members who have moved on to other careers.

Typically, each family group will have widely different financial needs, goals and objectives.

According to family business expert Don Schwerzler, “when facilitating family business meetings with farm and ranch family businesses, the divide between family members often comes down to the question – ‘are we a family-first business or a business-first family?’”

The key to succession planning for Ag operations – create a succession plan for the family – then create the succession plan for the business.

For more details on this succession strategy, go to

A Fun Definition of an Entrepreneur!

An entrepreneur is defined – as someone who leaps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down!

For more than 40 years our founder Don Schwerzler has been helping family business entrepreneurs to grow their business, to help maintain healthy family relationships – and then, when the time is right to help transfer wealth and wisdom to the next generation, or to help prepare the business for sale if that is the smarter option for the business owner.

Yesterday we received a short note from a client we worked with in 2010 - a large marina operation in IL. The owner had been re-reading the Family Business Assessment we performed – and thanked us for our straight-forward, hard-hitting comments that resulted from the Assessment process. Most of our recommendations have been implemented.

He reports that his business has turned around from where the business was losing money to where he has been producing higher profits each year since our consultation; and the plan to bring in the next generation of family management has been implemented - a 180 degree turnaround! His note made my day!

We would like to wish our friends and clients a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

A New Year Resolution - An invitation is extended to visit our Family Business Resource Center to help brush up on some of the basic success strategies for families in business together.

Paying It Forward - If you know a family business that could benefit from an objective outsider who is a highly experienced family business expert – please forward this link

2015 - Ready or Not!

At a recent workshop for family business owners the major topic for discussion was defining an effective strategy for 2015.

The workshop was conducted by family business strategy master Don Schwerzler. For more than 40 years, Schwerzler has been advising family business owners on how to avoid the many pitfalls associated with a family in business together.

One of the important recommendations from Schwerzler was that the family first creates a strategy for the family – and then have the strategic plan for the family drive the strategic planning process for the family’s business. “So many family business owners address the needs of the business in their strategic planning – and then force-fit the needs of the family into the results generated by the business,” said Schwerzler.

"This can be an especially difficult problem for those family businesses where the family needs are growing at a faster pace than the growth of their business.

“So often the needs of the family take precedence over the needs of the business and in those cases, the business are deprived of the resources needed to maximize the true potential of the business.”

Another recommendation was that a successful family business strategy should address three critical questions, each with their own sub-strategies:

How best to grow the family’s business, significantly?

How best to maintain healthy family relationships?

How best to deal with the succession issues?

To learn more about developing a successful strategy for your family business, go to

Internal Theft – How Secure is Your Store?

Employee theft may be a more significant contributor to inventory shortages than a store owner might think.

Richard Hollinger, a criminology professor at the University of Florida, has been studying why and how employees steal for more than 25 years.

Hollinger says retailers lose 41 percent of their inventory because of internal theft. Employees rationalize stealing: They don’t get paid enough or don’t get benefits.

To track all of this, there’s an annual report called The Global Retail Theft Barometer. The study released last month shows employees steal a lot more than shoplifters. Ernie Deyle is a co-author.

“It’s become pretty complex from taking product out of a store by concealing it, a kind of a shoplifter type of means all the way to a more sophisticated means where employees or associates partner with vendors that are bringing product into the store,” Deyle says.

Deyle says “discounting” or “sweethearting” is the most common type of theft.

“If you’re a cashier, my roommate, my friend can come in and I will ‘hook them up’ is the terminology that’s used. Where they will only ring up certain aspects of the order. And the other stuff will just get bagged and they don’t pay for the full order,” Deyle says.

Harold Copus, security director for the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute, concurs with the report – and makes this observation.

“One of the characteristics of a start-up family business is to employee family members, people who the business owner can trust.”

"The problem, from a security perspective, is that as the family business grows in size and complexity, the ‘span of control’ of the family members is simply inadequate. The business should create a system of ‘checks and balances’ to act as a deterrent against employee theft.”

Copus is a CPA and a former Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and an expert in retail store security.

For more information on family business security issues, go to

“Buy Local” Helps Family Businesses & Community

As we come into the shopping season, family businesses should consider promoting a simple lesson in economics – “Buy Local”!

According to the American Independent Business Alliance, on average, 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses was recirculated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance conducted perhaps the simplest study of the local multiplier effect in several small Maine communities in 2003. The study examined how much of a dollar spent at a local independent store is re-spent in the local area as payroll, goods/services purchased from area businesses, profits spent locally by owners, and as donations to area charities. The study found each $100 spent at local independents generated $45 of secondary local spending, compared to $14 for a big-box chain -- nearly identical to later results across the many Civic Economics studies.

A good example of a family business that is promoting “Buy Local” is Jim Sajdak, the owner of shoe stores in the Milwaukee area. His three Stan's Fit For Your Feet and two New Balance stores have a combined 65 full and part-time employees.

Local First Milwaukee, a metro Milwaukee business alliance of independent, nonprofit organizations and locally-owned businesses cites, “For every $1 you spend at a locally owned business, more than $0.68 remains in Milwaukee, compared to the $0.43 that stays here from national chains. Nonprofit organizations also receive on average 250 percent more support from small business owners than they do from large businesses.”

Jim posted his “Buy Local” message on the Biz blog – which also provided him the opportunity to promote his family’s third generation business that includes family members - David, Ben, Andy, Megan and Susan.

It is not too late for other family businesses to consider a similar strategy – to promote “Buy Local” and to promote their business.

This is an excellent example of one of the 4P’s of a basic marketing plan - promotion.

The 4 P’s of a successful marketing program: Product, Place, Promotion & Price.

To learn more about these important building blocks of a successful marketing plan, go to

Work Force Violence or Terrorism?

A potential threat to every family business is workplace violence, according to family business security expert Harold Copus.

“Over the past 5 years there has been a significant increase in workplace violence not only in terms of the frequency of occurrences but also in the severity of the violence,” states Copus.

The beheading incident in an Oklahoma food processing plant certainly underscores that observation. Alton Nolen, a recent Muslim convert who goes by the name Jah’Keem Yisrael on his hate-filled social media sites, attacked a worker with a knife and beheaded her and then was shot by the company president while Nolan was in the act of stabbing a second employee. Nolan had been suspended from work for harassing other employees with his extreme religious and racial views.

Copus, a former Special Agent with the FBI, is a family business security expert who is experienced in both work place violence and terrorism, offered these “warning signs” that can indicate a problematic employee:

Employee has a personal history of violence and/or a preoccupation with weapons

Harasses other employees with his/her personal beliefs – religious, political, unionism, racism

Makes statements about his/her intention to hurt someone

Challenging authority figures and demonstrating intimidating behavior to other employees

Personal stress triggers (romance rejection, financial problems, dysfunctional family, job loss)

Low self-esteem – blames others for his problems

Socially isolated from others (family, friends)

Changes in mood or behavior

Drug or alcohol abuse

In retrospect, certainly more than one of these “warning signs” was evident at the business where the beheading took place.

As an employee and you have workplace violence concerns about another employee, don’t hesitate to talk to your manager or your human resource manager – you could save someone from being hurt or even killed!

If you are aware of a problematic employee who might represent a workplace violence threat, and wish to remain anonymous – contact the Family Business Help Desk (770-952-4085) to have a confidential conversation with family business security expert Harold Copus.

To learn more about workplace violence, click on

9-11 Security Tip – Situational Awareness is Key

Harold Copus, a retired Special Agent with the FBI and our Family Business Security Expert makes some security observations on the eve of 9-11:

You can no longer believe that if you are located in a small town America you are 100% secure - but high-density populations in metropolitan areas are at increased risk.

Our biggest concern: Car bombs will most likely be the latest weapon used by terrorists. Car bombs by definition are not limited to cars but can be deployed in any vehicle.

Situational Awareness - After the Boston attack, individuals should always be suspicious of any package or box that is left unattended. Business owners in and around busy streets or shopping malls have to be aware of their circumstances. Anything out of the ordinary should be reported. It is far better to call the police than assume that something out of the ordinary may not be of concern.

Shopkeepers have been trained to be on the alert when someone takes an item and leaves their store. Harrods, London, reversed that procedure a number of years ago by carefully watching what customers “brought” into their shop and left unattended.

Become suspicious of those who appear to be “casing” your business operation. We have known for some time that those who wish us harm go into malls and shops and are seen counting tile squares in the ceiling, taking measured steps as if they are walking off for scale and paying attention to unattended bathroom facilities.

Authorities may be hamstrung by “political correctness” regarding profiling - but private citizens can know and understand that a terrorist is not likely to be an 80 year old grandmother.

September 11 is a day of remembrance for many of us for the lives that were lost but it also remains a significant date to our foes for other reasons.

There is no reason to avoid shopping malls or large crowds but one has to have “situational awareness.” It is trite, but be alert and report suspicious activity. Individual citizens may be the best defense against a terrorist attack.

If you have a security question for our Family Business Security Expert, click on this link for a free/confidential response:

Differentiators Create Competitive Advantage for Family Businesses

When we begin our work with a family business client, the first step is to conduct a Family Business Assessment.

This helps us to better answer three key questions:

What is needed to help grow the business?

What is needed to maintain healthy family relationships?

What is needed to successfully transition the business to the next generation – or to prepare the business for sale (depending on what works best for the owner)?

When we are considering the growth strategies for our family business clients, one of the areas we analyze are their branding and brand awareness strategies and then auguring down to their differentiators.

According to one expert, “A differentiator is something that makes your firm meaningfully different from other firms. It separates you from competitors and helps you stand out in the marketplace.”

According to one market research study, high-growth firms were three times more likely to have significant differentiators than firms of average growth!

One barrier to growth for many family businesses is that they do a poor job of branding and brand management - they hide in plain sight! They don’t identify and emphasize their differentiators – touting what makes their firm better than the competitors.

“For family businesses, the most obvious differentiator is that they are a “family business” explains family business branding expert, Don Schwerzler. “It is not enough just to state that the business is family-owned, but to demonstrate how the values of the family guide the decision-making process for the business.”

If you have questions about branding strategies for your family business, you can contact the Family Business Help Desk for a free consultation:

Schwerzler has advising family business entrepreneurs since 1967 and is the founder of the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute.

If you would like to learn more about the Family Business Assessment, go to

Family Business Troubleshooter

When a family business owner gets caught up in difficult circumstances, where can he/she go for help?

The professional service providers who already work with the business and the family can offer opinions but often these opinions may conflict. The CPA offers one set opinions, the lawyer another and the family therapist yet another. The family business owner ends up getting “sequential” solutions but the main problem has not been resolved.

That is when a call should go out to a family business expert, someone who can troubleshoot the problems and get them resolved.

Don Schwerzler is a family business troubleshooter. He has been helping family business entrepreneurs for more than 40 years. He is the founder of the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute.

Here is one of their client stories:

We are a third generation building products business with 37 locations.

My younger brother and I took over the business when my dad died. My mother was active in the business into her later years until her health started failing.

I did not have any children in the business but my brother had three of his sons in the business. Two of their wives worked part time in the business.

My brother and I each owned 50% of the business. The plan was for my brother to buy me out when I decided to retire.

When we started talking about my retirement, we ran into a lot of problems in terms of what the value of the business might be. My brother and his family felt the business was worth much less than I thought it was worth.

I started working on a part-time basis - started to get out of the business. We never got the problem resolved.

My brother died unexpectedly and as a result of an old agreement worked out by our dad, I became the sole owner of the business.

My brother's family had their lawyers and accountants and I had mine. It was a terrible time - perhaps the worse time of my entire life. It seemed the financial security I had planned for was falling apart.

I had read about Don Schwerzler and called for help. He was able to help us find fair and equitable solutions. Don was professional and objective – and most importantly, he did not take sides in any of the disputes.

I only wish we had brought him in before my brother passed away - it would have saved us a lot of time, money and hard feelings.

To read more about reaching out to a family business troubleshooter, go to

Family Feuds Can Wreck the Family’s Business

Fred and his wife Susan took over the family’s construction company started by Susan’s father. Fred had worked in the business for 20 years helping to grow the company into a medium-sized regional business.

They had three married adult children – two sons and a daughter. The younger son and the daughter had college degrees related to the business and worked well together.

The problem was older son who did not work in the business. He was the type who was always chasing a “big opportunity” – and never making it work. Something always went wrong – and it was never his fault. His parents had to bail him out of his financial difficulties.

But he was never shy about telling his family how conservative and small-minded they were and how badly the family managed their business. It seemed that whenever the family got together, it always ended with lost tempers and hurt feelings.

The problems finally came to a head when the oldest son, who did not work in the family business, told the family that he was rightly entitled to own a third of the business – it was the legacy he expected from Fred and Susan as they planned for their retirement. The problem became emotionally charged and had stalled the succession planning process.

Don Schwerzler, leading family business expert and the founder of the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute, says this is a common problem for many family business owners. “One of the tough issues that surface at succession time is how to be “fair and equal” to all of the children – those who work in the business and those who do not.”

Conflict of any kind within a business family is often exponentially more influential in the decision making process, forcing family business owners to choose between what is ideal for their family relationships and what is best for their business.

When entangled in a tug-of-war between family and business – bringing in an experienced family business expert may be the best course of action as these types of family feuds rarely resolve themselves without outside intervention.

In fact, if the family relationships continue to degrade, the next step can be expensive litigation amongst the family members.

To better understand how conflict can impact a family business, click on

Ask The Family Business Expert

Running a family business is challenging work. The family business entrepreneur will have a working understanding of every department in the company – accounting, marketing, sales, operations, finance, HR – the whole shebang!

It’s easy to understand that according to one expert, family business owners tend to “drink their own bathwater”! Meaning that the time they have for “thinking” and for innovating is limited and in some cases, non-existent. They get caught up in the “tyranny of routine” – and that imposes a glass ceiling on the business reaching its true potential.

When anyone in the company has a question, the boss is expected to have an answer. But when the boss has a question – where can they turn?

The ASK THE FAMILY BUSINESS EXPERT is a resource sponsored by the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute – an easily accessible help desk for families in business together. If you are involved in a family business and have a question about the business or family relationship issues, we can help.

It’s quick, easy and confidential. Simply go to

Succession: Whose Job is It?

For some family businesses the transition period from one generation to the next is positive and productive while other family businesses experience significant problems that can wreck the business and destroy family relationships.

Tensions and disagreements in a family business are often the result of organizational overlap – where responsibilities are not clearly understood by the family members, the non-family managers, employees and sometimes even vendors and customers!

So when it comes time for succession, whose job is it?

We think the responsibility for preparing the business for transition from one generation to the next should be assigned to the future leaders and owners of the family's business!

Don Schwerzler, leading family business expert and the founder of the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute has more than 40 years of experience helping family businesses with succession issues.

“When we are doing our Family Business Assessment, rarely do we encounter a Nexter who does not “know” the family business – most have been “in-training” most of their lives, if not directly in the business, certainly by osmosis around the dining room table! The discussions about the business become the discussions of the family.”

To learn how best to energize and organize the Nexters into the succession planning and succession management process, click on

“Future Proof” Your Family Business

As we travel around the country speaking with family business leaders, one of the most common concerns is the atmosphere of “uncertainty” that has been created by the growth and reach of the federal government.

Especially frightening is the expansion of the regulatory agencies such as the EPA, the politicization of agencies like the IRS and the general incompetence of agencies like the Veterans Administration where system-wide practices help to deceive the American public.

In general, our political leaders, at all levels of government, have failed to take effective action to reduce government spending and to eliminate debt. Not hard to understand when one realizes that more than 50% of the people in the US do not pay taxes; entitlement programs are out of control; borders are not secure from illegal immigration and other security threats.

Frankly, the leadership failure has been so bad, the problems endemic at every level of government, that it is hard to imagine that the same political apparatus that caused the problems – is going to solve the problems! Case in point, the “weak-willed” options put forward to engage our country's current economic problems that amount to symbolic platitudes and political posturing that will have the same results as trying to save the Titanic by re-arranging the deck chairs.

“So don’t expect your government to protect your family business – every family business should be taking immediate action to “future proof” their family business,” notes Don Schwerzler, founder of the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute.

To learn about specific steps a family business owner can take to “future proof” their family business, go to

Planning for Retirement: Time to Sell the Family Business?

When a family business owner is planning for retirement, a profound and basic decision must be made: whether or not to pass the business on to the next generation.

For some families, selling the business may make more sense than passing the business to the next generation. In fact, studies indicate that the best way to create and increase the wealth of the family, selling the business and passing the money (rather than the business) to the next generation is the better option.

For some family business owners, creating the business legacy for the kids and grandkids is a powerful fantasy, one that is not shared with the next generation. The "nexters" may prefer to cash out the family business so they can re-invest the money in a new and exciting venture, one that may have more potential than running the family's business.

When the decision has been made to sell the business, the next step is to insure that the sale price of the business is maximized – and that is when the family business owner needs to get expert advice. While family business entrepreneurs have a notion that they can do most anything, not having expert help when getting the business ready for sale is tantamount to risk fumbling the football on the goal line with no more time on the clock!

For more information on maximizing the sale price of your family business, go to

Brand Management & the Family Business

At a recent workshop for family business owners, one of the topics for discussion was brand management.

Each of the participants talked about marketing the products and services produced by their family’s business.

The discussions ranged from the first effort (when grandpa decided to get business cards to better market the business!) to more sophisticated techniques and strategies, including websites and the use of social media like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Interestingly enough, not one of the business owners talked about marketing the “brand” of their family business.

Why is this important?

First, the “familiness” of the family business should be embedded in the marketing of their products and services. Research shows that being recognized as a family-owned business builds trust and confidence with customers and vendors alike.

Secondly, we think it is a significant problem for many family businesses - their entire marketing effort is focused on promoting products or services and little or no attention is paid to promoting the company in a way to create interest from potential buyers for the business, including the M&A experts.

When planning for retirement, the exit strategy most favored by family business owners is to pass the business to their kids.

But when it comes to creating wealth for the family, selling the business may be a better option!

To learn more about the M&A option as a strategy for family business owners planning for retirement, click on

Addiction in Family Owned Businesses

Lisa Frederiksen is an expert on alcoholism and drug abuse, blogger, author of several books dealing with addiction issues, a consultant and speaker.

“Helping families understand alcohol or drug use vs abuse vs dependence, aka addiction, can be a key first step for the family members seeking help for a loved one,” suggests Frederiksen.

“This is not to be confused with an intervention, where the objective is to send the loved one to rehab following the session. Rather this to provide an information session so that families (with or without the loved one whose substance use is of

In a recent blog, family business expert Don Schwerzler talked about addiction being a major contributor to family business crisis and turmoil. To read the blog, click on the link

Scary New Relationship - OSHA and NRLB

As part of their Risk Management practices, family business owners should review this “Client Alert” sent out by the Labor & Employment Counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.

On May 21, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") began a joint-referral program with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") that will assist whistleblowers who fail to bring their claim in a timely manner pursuant to OSH Act's Section 11(c). Section 11(c) establishes a 30-day statute of limitations for any employee who instituted an action under the OSH Act to bring a claim of discrimination. However, OSHA estimates that 300 to 600 complainants each year either decline to file charges or their charges are dismissed because they failed to adhere to the 30-day limit.

The NLRB asserts that many of the complaints arising under the OSH Act may also give rise to unfair labor practices that violate the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), which provides for a six-month statute of limitations. Specifically, the NLRB points to the potential for handling claims involving employer retaliation for group complaints concerning unsafe working conditions. To address these situations, OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels signed a memorandum agreeing to notify all complainants who file an untimely whistleblower charge with OSHA of their right to file a charge with the NLRB.

Furthermore, OSHA intends to educate its agents on the NLRB and to provide contact information for use in telephone or in-person conversations with complainants with untimely whistleblower claims. OSHA will also provide information regarding the NLRB and the potential for claimants to file timely unfair labor practice claims in their letters administratively closing claims that are untimely under Section 11(c). The NLRB will also track the number of contacts received as a result of OSHA referrals and provide a separate toll-free number for use by those referred by OSHA.

The agreement builds on a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1975 between OSHA and the NLRB for handling workers' safety retaliation complaints that stated such claims should be primarily handled under the OSH Act rather than the NLRA. The agreement is indicative of the NLRB's continued attempts to expand its regulatory function over protected concerted activity claims, regardless of whether the parties were involved in any union-related activity. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the referral agreement, please do not hesitate to contact your Labor & Employment Counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.

This client alert is intended to inform clients and other interested parties about legal matters of current interest and is not intended as legal advice.

To learn more about Risk Management for family-owned businesses, click on this link

Buy-Sell Agreement Can Save A Family Business

Family Feud: How a buy-sell agreement can save a family-owned business is the title of an article written by Philip M. Perry in the May edition of RV PRO magazine featuring Don Schwerzler, the managing director of Atlanta-based Family Business Institute. The on-line digital edition is available at

Developing infrastructure is key to formalizing the management style of a family business – and the family is wise to consider partnership agreements, one of which is the buy-sell agreement.

Buy-sell agreements are critical to the family business as part of the succession planning process. As a family business transitions from a single owner to a sibling partnership, the family business dynamics get more complicated and even more so if the business becomes a cousin consortium.

To read more about buy-sell agreements, click on

Family Succession Plan Drives Succession Planning for the Business

Sometimes the failure of the flawed succession planning process is recognized only after the death of the parents when the "plan" is sprung on the family during the reading of the will - and the legacy the parents were trying to create for their children and grandchildren is destroyed because of greed, misunderstandings and the lack of involvement in the family succession planning process.

The family succession plan should recognize and accommodate the needs, goals and objectives of each family member. "The family's goals and objectives then become the basic building blocks for the development of the succession plan for the family's business," according to top family business expert Don Schwerzler.

"It is extremely important to first develop the family succession plan and then the succession plan for the family's business. Otherwise the business owner will spend a lot of time and money developing a business transition plan that will almost always fail to reach the desired results."

For more information go to this link

29 Key Leadership Practices

29 Leadership Practices have been identified by Professor Kenneth Mackenzie, one of the world's leading experts on leadership and organizational design.

In today's fast-paced business environment, successful organizations are those organizations that can adapt to change, RAPIDLY. The key to change management rests on these key leadership concepts.

Effective leadership enables an organization to be better aligned and clearly, competitive advantage is gained when an organization is aligned for success.

These 29 Leadership Practices are the primary "indicators of interest" we use when diagnosing an organization.

To learn more about the 29 Leadership Practices, go to

Risk Management Insurance

Risk management insurance offers protection against a broad spectrum of litigation threats.

Unfortunately, many family businesses have a false sense of security about liability litigation - a problem that would likely not befall them.

A common thought amongst many family business owners is that litigation/lawsuits are something that happens to other businesses…

The reality, however, is that even when the family business owner is “right”, defending against lawsuits can wreck years of hard work building a family business, endanger the family’s wealth and destroy the financial security of the family business owner. To read more about risk management insurance click on


Conflict in a family business is one of the most serious categories of problems that impact the growth and success of family businesses – problems that keep the family business from reaching its true potential.

What are the major categories or sources of conflict in a family business? According to a survey conducted by a large accounting firm, family business leaders reported:

• 30% - Discussions about future strategies

•27% - Performance of family members active in the business

•22% - Decisions about reinvesting profits vs paying dividends

•19% - Decisions about who can or who can't work in the business

•18% - Compensation for family members in the business

•15% - The business role in-laws should play or not play

•13% - Failure to consult the wider family on key issues

In fact, conflict can jeopardize the “survivability” of the business, especially when the business is transitioning from one generation to the next.

For instance, succession studies show that only about 30% of first generation family businesses successfully transition to the next generation. It is not difficult to understand that a primary contributing factor to this stunning statistic is - family business conflict.

Of all the relationships we build throughout our lives, none are more complicated, yet delicate, as those within our families. It is the complexity of these relationships which can tip the scales between success and failure of a family business.

“Ask the Family Business Expert” is a service provided by Atlanta-based Family Business Institute and their web organization Family Business

If your family business seems paralyzed by conflict or indecision in trying to maximize the true potential of the family’s business, we offer a free and confidential consultation – just use the Ask the Expert form at

Family Business Feuds

When a family business owner contacts us for help, one of the most frequent problems is how to deal with ongoing “family feuds” amongst the owner’s children.

One of the fancy words to describe this situation is “cognitive dissonance” which refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors.

One client we worked with in the construction industry, the dad had two sons working in the business. Both brothers had engineering degrees, were in their mid 30’s and got along very well. The dad had begun to transfer stock to the boys – and everything seemed to be on track to turn the business over to the sons so the dad could retire.

The older brother preferred to be working on the construction sites managing the work force while the younger other brother preferred working in sales, bid preparation and administrative duties. This created an ideal environment as each brother had their own area of responsibility.

Problem – the wives of the brothers did not care for each other! They each brought a different set of values to the equation.

They were quite different – one had 4 kids and enjoyed doing home-related activities just like her mother-in-law (cooking, baking, sewing, gardening, etc.) while the other daughter-in-law was a professional engineer who did not want children and did not care to participate in the activities of the family.

One can only imagine how much fun the family was having on their weekly Sunday dinners where dad and the two sons talked business!

One daughter-in-law talked and had fun with the mother-in-law while the other daughter-in-law remained behind closed doors so she could work on her computer (she worked for an engineering firm) and did not want to be bothered by her young nephews and nieces!

If you are involved in a family business, it is important to take action on dealing with family feuds – they rarely get better by being ignored, they generally get worse and up hurting the family business and wrecking family relationships.

We help solve family feuds – simply contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

To learn more about dealing with family feuds, click on

Future Proof Your Family Business

2014 is going to be a challenging year for many family businesses. For some, the strategic focus of the senior generation has shifted from succession to survival.

ObamaCare will impact every family business – increased costs for medical insurance along with new taxes that target family-owned businesses.

As family businesses do their year-end planning, we suggest they take steps to “future proof” their family’s business and to protect the family’s assets.

To get some ideas and tips to consider for your family business, go to on

APICS Certification for Veterans at Fox Valley Tech

Keith FitzPatrick (CPIM, CSCP) is a member of APICS Atlanta and he is a global supply chain leader & Veteran advocate.

“Fitz” brought our attention to a program offered by Fox Valley Tech that could benefit many veterans who are transitioning from military careers to the civilian sector.

If you work in or worked in a combat service support, supply chain, materials management or logistics MOS, you probably already know the concepts important to the private sector. Earning a Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) certification from APICS, the Association for Operations Management will show employers that you are a supply chain expert. Earning this certification demonstrates your operations management and supply chain expertise, giving you a competitive edge when seeking a job in the private sector.

Earning a CPIM certification can be difficult for those currently serving in the Armed Forces, but one program exists that can help you reach your goal. Fox Valley Tech is the only college authorized by the Veterans Administration to accept GI Bill benefits to pay for APICS CPIM certification classes. (Certification testing is covered for all eligible veterans).

Fox Valley Tech is also the only training facility authorized by APICS to offer CPIM certification training on-line. This unique combination training and funding means that veterans anywhere in the world can earn their CPIM certification. If you prefer the classroom experience, you can take classes at Fox Valley Tech in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Please note that students will need to pay tuition and books in full prior to enrolling. If eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, students will be reimbursed once the college receives the Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition payment. All other GI Bills will pay the student directly based on number of credits/rate of pursuit. While this is a great way for active duty service members to earn this certification, all veterans can use their GI Bill benefits to participate in this program.

For more information on taking CPIM classes at Fox Valley Tech, go to

For more information about Fox Valley Tech’s veterans’ programs go to

For additional assistance, feel free to contact APICS Atlanta at

To learn more about Southern Business Research and how they help clients improve profits by developing the necessary infrastructure for operations management, go to

Wreaths Across America

Family Business Profiles is a section on our web site ( dedicated to recognizing successful family businesses – hoping they may be an inspiration to other family businesses.

One of the most heart-felt Profiles is the Worcester Wreath Company.

The company was started by family business entrepreneur Morrill Worcester to produce and sell Christmas wreaths.

One year he had an overstock of wreaths that he ended up taking to Washington DC to place the wreaths on the graves of Our Fallen Heroes at Arlington National Cemetery.

That act of giving has now become national in scope – and they can use help with funding.

Click on the link at the bottom of this Blog to check out the Worcester Wreath Profile to read a great story about a family business – and then click on the link to Wreaths Across America to learn more about the organization and to make a donation

Waste Management and Waste Management Equipment

For many family businesses, “now ‘tis the season” to be planning for next year – a year that will be bringing significant government-mandated changes like never before in US history.

When working with our family business clients, an underlying theme is helping to “future proof” the family’s business ( ).

As we facilitate their operational assessments, an area of the business often overlooked as an opportunity for cost reduction or to gain a competitive advantage (brand management - are their “waste management” policies and practices.

We use a “waste management assessment process” that helps to identify waste management opportunities. From that assessment, we can better identify the type of waste management equipment to meet the specific requirements of their business operation (equipment such as balers, compactors and shredders).

Purchasing recycling equipment can be difficult to know what equipment is best for your family business. We recommend a more holistic approach – to make waste management a family business strategy – and then to match the most appropriate equipment needed to properly implement the strategy.

If you have any questions about waste management or the type of waste management equipment that would be best suited for your family business, simply click on

OSHA Proposes Rule on Electronically Recording Injury and Illness Information

Patricia Hill, an attorney with the prestigious law firm Smith Gambrell Russell, heads up the Firm’s Labor and Employment Law Practice Group. Yesterday the Firm released a client alert that could have serious implications for family-owned businesses and the recordkeeping practices mandated by OSHA:

If you are an employer, the public may soon have easy access to your workplace injury and illness information through a searchable online database. On November 7, 2013, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration ("OSHA") issued a proposed rule1 to amend its recordkeeping regulations to add requirements for the electronic submission of the injury and illness information that employers are already required to keep under existing regulations (the "Proposed Rule").

Under OSHA's current recordkeeping regulations, employers with more than 10 employees and whose establishments are not classified as a partially exempt industry (including establishments in specific low hazard retail, service, finance, insurance, and real estate industries) must record work-related injuries and illnesses using three forms: Form 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, Form 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and Form 301 Injury and Illness Incident Report. Such employers must also post the previous year's Form 300A in the workplace every year from February 1 to April 30. Employers covered by the Occupational Safety & Health Act only have to report to OSHA when a work-related incident results in the death of an employee or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees within eight hours.

To receive the complete client alert or if you would like more information about the new OSHA Proposal, use our Ask the Expert form

George Washington Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Proclamation
President George Washington
City of New York, October 3, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Future Proof Your Family Business

Family businesses are “at risk” as never before in the history of our country.

Succession – how best to transition the business from one generation to the next was the issue senior generation members of family-owned businesses were most concerned.

Today, with major levels of uncertainty created by excessive regulation, excessive taxation and the biggest threat of all – Obama Care – “succession” has been replaced by “survival” as the most pressing concern for many family business owners.

Across the country, family business owners are electing to close their business to conserve their wealth rather than trying to continue the business in the current climate of uncertainty – where they do not see any hope in the near future for their business to stay open and to not lose money.

A good question for family business owners to ask themselves – a question that will help bring clarity to the problem is to pose the question “What are we doing to ‘future proof’ our business?”.

To help organize this discussion for families in business together, Family Business has compiled a list of strategies that can create a proactive posture for a family business.

To learn more about what you can do to future proof your family’s business, click on

Family Business Legal Blood Feuds

On Monday, family business expert Don Schwerzler was a guest commentator on the radio show Casey’s Corner hosted by Casey Crane (WCAP 980 AM).

The topic for discussion – family business “family business legal blood feuds!”

One case that was discussed involved the DeMoulas family and their business Market Basket, a major grocery chain in New England.

The business is nearly 100 years old and employees around 19,000 people.

Their family business legal blood feud has been going on for decades!

Asked if a family business mediation expert could bring the two sides together, Schwerzler opined that this case was not a candidate for a mediation approach – the lawyers for each side of the dispute would likely not welcome or invite another player into the equation.

“In my 40+ years advising family-owned businesses and their professional service advisors, long-lasting family business legal blood feuds are generally concluded in one of two ways,” says Schwerzler. “One probable conclusion is when the legal fees end up bankrupting the family or destroying the family’s business – or both.

“The other potential conclusion is when one of the key players in the litigation dies and the estate or his/her heirs re-think the cost of continuing the legal dispute – and decide to stop spending the money needed to fuel the lawsuit."

According to Schwerzler, most family business disputes can be resolved without bringing in the lawyers if an experienced family business mediation expert can get involved.

“When a family business is in trouble (or wants to be pro-active in avoiding the pitfalls associated with a family business) and asks for our help, we begin by initiating our Family Business Assessment process,” says Schwerzler. “That first step can prove to be a fast way to defuse emotionally driven disputes – to where some logic can be applied to the situation and the family can work towards a reasonable resolution to the issues/problems - a resolution that satisfies each side of the dispute.”

To learn more about our Family Business Assessment process, click on

Family Business Help Desk

The Family Business Help Desk provides answers to questions from family-owned businesses – quickly and in confidence.

This is a free service supported by the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute.

Our multi-disciplined team of family business experts is headed by internationally recognized family business expert, Don Schwerzler.

“We respond to questions from family businesses, professional service providers who serve family businesses and to writers & reporters seeking background information on family business dynamics,” says Schwerzler.

To learn more about the Family Business Help Desk, click on

Home Depot – Hurricane Preparedness Class

Altruistic Marketing, as a business development strategy, has been recognized for many years. "More recently, with the current economic recession acting as a force-multiplier, we advise our family business clients to give careful consideration to this very effective marketing strategy," reports top family business expert Don Schwerzler.

"What makes altruistic marketing such a compelling strategy is that it is a marriage between business marketing goals and objectives with a broad range of “feel-good” causes – such as helping others who are less fortunate, bringing supplies to a disaster area or supporting a youth sports team - the opportunities to apply the concept of altruistic marketing are endless. Be creative! Ask your employees and associates for ideas and suggestions."

A good example of how altruistic marketing can create brand awareness, brand loyalty and store traffic is an initiative just announced by Home Depot.

Hurricane season starts on June 1st and ends on November 20th.

On June 27th, Home Depot is conducting hurricane preparedness workshops (10 am to 11:30 am local time) at more than 700 stores from the Gulf Coast to New England. The program will focus on hurricane prep projects, safety and assembling disaster preparedness kits.

To learn how altruistic marketing strategies can help grow your family business, click on

Moore OK Tornado – Charity Organizations Need Help

Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the people of Moore, Oklahoma.

Yesterday afternoon, Moore was hit by a massive tornado – winds that may have exceeded 200 miles per hour and was on the ground for more than 40 minutes.

Estimates are that the tornado cut a swath 2 miles wide and 20 miles long – the total destruction of schools, churches, homes, medical facilities and businesses is hard to comprehend.

There are a number of charity organizations that will be supplying aid – they need your financial contributions to support their mission.

To check out a list of vetted charity organizations, click on this link

Happy Mother’s Day

A special “Happy Mother’s Day” greeting to all of the mothers involved in family businesses!

When we are helping a family business develop and implement a succession strategy, we study the role that “mom” plays in the family’s business. We often refer to her as the CEO of the family’s business – the Chief Emotional Officer!

Very often “mom” is the peacemaker in a family business – the shock absorber when there are inter-generational and intra-generational disputes going on that are ripping at the family and/or the family’s business.

All too often, the role of “mom” in a family business is under-valued and even unrecognized in many family-owned businesses.

Mother’s Day is a good time to give mom the recognition she desires for her work with the family and the family’s business.

To read more about “mom” as the CEO (Chief Emotional Officer) of a family business, click on

Simplify Your Family Business to Improve Profits

Management guru Peter Drucker observed that "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all".

That one statement makes clear the difference between being an “efficient manager” and being an “effective manager”!

One of the major problems causing a family business to fall short of reaching its true potential is that the boss, along with many key members of the management team, are involved in busy work that could be done better by subordinates – or not be done at all!

In other words, too much management time is spent on a range of activities that do not create “significance” for the business.

“In the more than 40 years I have been advising family business entrepreneurs, I have never had one of these success-driven business people ever tell me they did not have enough to do,” notes Don Schwerzler, leading family business expert and founder of the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute and their web organization, Family Business

“To the contrary, the single most common complaint I hear from these business leaders is that they are too busy, sometimes overwhelmed with work.

"They complain they have too much on their plate or that they know a lot of things they could do to improve their business – but they just do not have enough time to take on more work.”

Solving that dilemma is what we do when we are working with a family business client.

Not solving that problem is why so many family businesses are described, by merger and acquisition experts, as being an “under-performing asset”.

Ron Ashkenas, an organizational consultant, offered some smart tips in a recent blog discussing the importance of reducing excessive (or read as unnecessary) activities in an organization:

Separate cost-reduction from work-reduction. Since people are naturally (and understandably) protective of their livelihoods and careers, it's difficult to ask them to do things that will result in the loss of their own job.

Make work elimination a group activity. While managers are hesitant to point out stoppage possibilities in their own areas, they often can see opportunities elsewhere.

Insert a "sunset clause" in the charter of all new committees, teams, and projects. Instead of swimming against the tide in trying to stop ongoing endeavors, make the shut-down process a natural event in the life cycle of organizational activities. If people know from the start that there is a beginning and an end, then managers will start to expect that things will be turned off at a specific time and can plan accordingly.

As we begin our work with a family business, one of the first steps is to conduct a Family Business Assessment. Our Assessment produces the insights necessary to better understand the dynamics that drive the business and that impact the family. To learn more about our Family Business Assessment process, click on

USCIS Form Change Reminder

On March 8, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

All employers must complete a Form I-9 for each employee hired in the United States.

Employers should immediately begin using the revised Form I-9 for all new hires and reverifications.

However, employers may continue to use previously accepted versions, dated 02/02/09 and 08/07/09, until May 7, 2013.

After May 7, 2013, employers must only use the just released Form I-9, dated 03/08/13. It is important to note that, after May 7, 2013, employers must use the revised Form I-9 for new hires and to reverify the employment authorization of current employees. If a current employee requires reverification after May 7, 2013, employers must complete Section 3 of the new form and attach it to the employee's existing Form I-9.

The revised Form I-9 includes new fields, formatting, and instructions for both employees and employers.

The revised forms are also available in Spanish here. Please note, however, that the Spanish language version of the form may only be used in Puerto Rico.

For information on “immigration through investment, click on

Dr. Leon Danco

Last week Dr. Leon Danco passed away. A legend in the field of family business, he was the first to understand a fundamental principal: that for a family business to be successful, a family business owner should pay attention not only to the business but the business of the family as well.

He lectured about the importance for family businesses to reach out to outside advisors, who understand family dynamics, to help guide the decision making process, both tactically and strategically. Forming an advisory board is still considered to be one of the most important “smart strategies” a family business can implement.

Dr. Danco created a legacy of his own by helping family business owners create and protect their family business legacy.

The Family Business Help Desk is a free service we offer to family business owners – a place where they can seek answers to tough questions about their family business. To contact the Family Business Help Desk, click on

FIORE RX – New Antifungal Nail polish

Obama Care will have a huge impact on medical practices – especially for young doctors who are part of a family medical practice.

As in any other family business, succession in a family-owned medical practice presents challenges and opportunities – but now many medical practices are changing their practice model as well as dealing with succession issues.

Fiore RX is a new product line of foot care products – a concept developed by three Atlanta podiatrists concerned about mandated changes in America’s health care system and the negative impact these changes will have on their medical practices. This new enterprise is a great example of how physician entrepreneurs are adapting new strategies to develop additional revenue streams, independent of their medical practices.

Increased government regulations, insurance company red tape and constant reimbursement reductions, reduces the quality time a physician is able to spend with patients.

Three young podiatrists in Atlanta (Drs. Dorian Jimenez, Chris Menke and Jason Morris) launched a new internet business in 2012. Fiore RX is a new line of foot care products. The first product launched by these three physician entrepreneurs is an antifungal nail polish.

Toenail fungus has always been a difficult problem to address in the past, specifically due to the lack of successful and safe treatment options. Laser therapy, as a new treatment option, has gained considerable attention as an effective treatment protocol. However, laser treatment is currently recognized by insurance companies as “cosmetic” and therefore the expensive procedure is a non-covered service.

While Fiore RX does not cure nail fungus, it can help prevent a patient from getting toenail fungus. People most at risk for being infected with toenail fungus are people using exercise facilities and pedicure salons.

Doctor tip: To help prevent nail fungus, the next time you visit a nail salon; bring your own bottle of antifungal nail polish!

To learn more about FIORE RX click on the link on this link

Altruistic Marketing is a brand recognition strategy

Family businesses are the economic cornerstone of most communities.

They support the community through civic organizations, supporting schools, sports programs, charities and churches.

The primary motivation is all about the spirit of giving.

Public companies also contribute to the community – but they tend to be smarter about “altruistic marketing”.

They publicize what they are doing so they gain recognition for their good deeds - it helps to promote their brand in a very positive way.

For instance, the Budweiser Beer bottling plant in Rome GA stopped beer production and started filling cans with safe drinking water for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in NJ and NY.

Budweiser is shipping more than 44,000 cases of water – that is more than a million cans of safe drinking water to their beer distributers in the affected areas (most of which are family-owned businesses) for distribution to the Red Cross disaster relieve teams.

We are pleased to recognize Budweiser for their generosity. The point being made here is that their marketing and PR departments made sure the good deed was reported in the press, TV, and the Internet. That is the essence of altruistic marketing.

To learn more about how your family business can benefit from altruistic marketing, click on the link

Family Business Help - Recovering From Sandy

Hurricane Sandy has devastated many family-owned businesses.

For some, building structures have been damaged or destroyed.

For many other family businesses the problems are logistics. For example, many restaurants in NYC are running out of food because the vendors can’t deliver or the vendors don’t have product to deliver. Or, on the other hand, their customer base that lives outside of NYC but can’t get to where they work because the tunnels and transportation systems are shut down.

“Family business entrepreneurs are accustomed to overcoming obstacles – they are resilient, optimistic and committed to being successful,” says leading family business expert Don Schwerzler.

“After a catastrophic event, these family business entrepreneurs are back to the drawing boards re-building and in some cases, re-inventing their family’s business,” notes Schwerzler.

One of the many popular services of the Family Business web site is the FAMILY BUSINESS HELP DESK that supports our ASK THE EXPERT feature - a free service we offer that provides smart answers to difficult questions.

“For family businesses that have been hurt or destroyed by a catastrophic event like Hurricane Sandy – we are more than happy to help,” says Schwerzler. “We can be a great sounding board as these family business owners re-envision the future of their business.”

To learn more about contacting the FAMILY BUSINESS HELP DESK or the ASK THE EXPERT feature – simply click on

Hurricane Sandy: Red Cross and Other Charities Need Help

Hurricane Sandy has impacted much of the Northeastern region and the Great Lake region of the US.

Family businesses have been contacting the Family Business Institute by phone and e-mail - asking “What can we do to help?”

Charitable organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are like "first responders" - they are running short of resources needed to help the storm victims.

“We have published a comprehensive list of charities on our web site, Family Business that need your help. Choose one that is aligned with the values of your family and your family business – and make a contribution,” says leading family business expert Don Schwerzler.

Click on this link to find a charity you can help with a donation

Alexandra Scott’s Lemonade Stand

About 8 years ago, when we first heard about Alexandra Scott, we posted a page to our web site about Alexandra Scott and her mission to raise money to fight pediatric cancer – by selling lemonade.

Diagnosed with an aggressive childhood cancer called neuroblastoma just before her first birthday, Alex spent a lot of time in hospital undergoing painful treatment. This would go on for over seven years until she died in 2004 - at the age of eight.

Back in 2000, in hospital about the time of her 4th birthday, Alex decided she wanted to raise money to give to her doctors and hospital to help find a cure for the cancer that she and the other kids dealt with daily.

The Alexandra Lemonade Stand Foundation first caught the attention of Volvo when Alexandra “Alex” Scott received an inaugural Volvo for Life award nomination. The award program honors hometown heroes doing extraordinary things in their communities. At nomination time, Alex had raised $45,000 for pediatric cancer-related research. Alex’s determination and unwavering support for pediatric cancer research earned her a Volvo for Life Award at the 2003 ceremony in New York City.

In 2004, Alex set a remarkable goal: call upon the nation to raise $1 million to fight pediatric cancer before the year's end. Sadly, Alex passed away August 1 at the age of 8, having raised over $700,000, but before she died, Volvo made Alex a promise to help her raise the million dollars. To keep their promise they mobilized thousands of Volvo employees at dealerships nationwide to put their sales skills to the test — to sell lemonade for Alex. Their efforts were successful, resulting in hundreds of thousands raised to keep their promise.

Volvo was one of the founding sponsors of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) and you can read more about ALSF and Volvo and other corporate sponsors at

You can learn more about the vision of Alexandra Scott and her legacy by clicking on

Mukoyoshi – a Japanese succession strategy

It has been reported that Japan has the world's second highest adoption rate of more than 80,000 a year - but most are adult men in their 20s and 30s!

The reason is a uniquely Japanese-style adoption known as Mukoyoshi – a Japanese succession strategy used by family businesses.

In 787 AD a guest house was built near a hot spring by Garyo Hoshi who adopted a son as his successor who took his childhood name Zengoro.

Since then, for nearly 1,300 years, the hotel and the name - Zengoro Hoshi - have been passed down the family for 46 generations!

That is how the world's oldest family business - according to the Guinness World Records - is believed to have started.

Through the years, when the family did not have a son to run the business, they adopted the husband of one of the married daughters who would actually change his name as part of the adoption process.

Thus, Mukoyoshi ensured the continuation of the business by a member of the family.

Today in Japan, many of the leading multi-generational family-owned businesses are led by adopted sons of the founding family!

To learn more about succession management for your family business, go to

Commercial and Residential Rainwater Harvesting

Water is essential not just to industry but to life.

Many urban areas are operating in a crisis mode due to present or near-future water shortages. A fast and easy fix is rainwater harvesting.

Take Atlanta – it has been dealing with major water problems for years.

Atlanta receives more annual rainfall than Seattle, a very wet place noted for its rain. Rainfall in Atlanta is three times that of Los Angeles, eight times more than Phoenix.

If Atlanta and Georgia started the process to build new reservoirs today (which it has), it will be 20 years before they are functioning – not to mention the huge expense for constructing a reservoir.

“Rainwater collection should be pursued as part of every city’s overall water management plan,” suggests rainwater harvesting expert Bob Drew.

50 inches of rain falls in Atlanta every year. A properly designed rainwater collection system truly is a small reservoir with many advantages over the types of large reservoirs we normally think about.

In addition to offering excellent financial returns and protection from watering bans, rainwater collection can be part of a business’s sustainability effort.

Collectively, rainwater collection rivals larger reservoirs in water supplied and can be implemented much faster and with private financing.

Examples abound of businesses that can supply a large portion of their water using rainwater collection.

Restaurants use hundreds of thousands of gallons of water annually for toilet flushing alone. All of that can come from rainwater.

Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, has significant needs for watering its field and grounds cleaning. Rainwater has been shown to work fine for that. Next time you visit Turner Field – check out the water collection system installed by Ecovie, a rainwater system design and installation company.

Rainwater supplies 80% of the irrigation and toilet-flushing needs for Oliver House, a new 88-unit senior living facility in Decatur, GA.

By using rainwater, a company is green, as well as smart. Rainwater doesn’t reduce downstream water flow like larger reservoirs, there is no erosion, and it’s sustainable.

For more information about rainwater harvesting, click on this link

401 Plans – New Regulations for Retirement Plan Management

Major changes in the regulations for retirement plan management and retirement benefit management go into effect at the end of August 30, 2012.

For example, there are two new regulations that family business owners need to be aware of - 404(a) and 408(b)-2.

The final rule for what is known as 404(a) has many requirements. The major impact will be the disclosure to your employees explaining the fees and expenses they pay from their investments for general plan administrative services that may be charged to their individual accounts. Examples would include fees for legal, accounting, and recordkeeping services. This new rule is effective on August 30, 2012.

The U.S. Department of Labor Regulation 408(b)-2 permits retirement plans, under ERISA, to pay fees for expenses under the right circumstances.

Effective July 1, 2012 the Regulation calls for the plan sponsor to receive a disclosure from parties-at-interest (e.g. service providers, record keepers, advisors), who receive monies either directly or indirectly from plan assets.

This disclosure must provide fees for service, a description of the services rendered, and whether or not they take fiduciary responsibility for the plan investments, in writing.

To learn more about the new regulation changes for 401 retirement plan management and retirement benefit management, click on

National Restaurant Association Against Obama Care

It is estimated that there are more than 700,000 restaurants in the US, a large percentage of which are family-owned restaurants or franchises owned and operated as family businesses. The restaurant industry employs millions of people.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) released the following statement from President and CEO Dawn Sweeney upon passage of H.R. 6079, the “Repeal of Obamacare Act”:

“On behalf of our members, we are pleased the House of Representatives has taken this step, which is in line with our view that given the unique issues that face the industry from a workforce standpoint, the economic impact of the employer mandate and the fines associated with it will impose insurmountable costs and administrative burdens for many in the industry,” Sweeney says.

“Our industry wants health care reform and we will continue to actively participate in the health care reform debate, but we believe Congress must seek comprehensive health care reform that focuses first on lowering health care coverage costs and not on reform that hampers the ability of employers to create jobs.”

If you are a business family involved in the restaurant industry, we welcome your comments and observations regarding Obama Care and the impact it will have on your family’s business.

Our Family Business Forum is a “soap box” family business owners can use to register their thoughts and opinions – whether it is tips and success strategies for running a successful family enterprise or concerns about the huge tax and regulatory increases that are forthcoming and will negatively impact every family business in the USA. To learn more about our Family Business Forum,

Business Confidence Plunging According to NFIB

The National Federation of Independent Business conducts a random membership survey every month to produce their Index of Small Business Optimism. In June, NFIB reported the Index dropped three points, the lowest level since October of 2011.

“All in all, this month’s survey was a real economic downer,” said William Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business.

The July Index is expected to be even lower since it will show the impact that the Supreme Court ruling on Obama Care will have on small business.

“With over 20 new taxes contained in the law -- a price-tag of $800 billion -- and most of the regulations yet to be written ... the implications for employee costs remain unclear,” Dunkelberg said. “Uncertainty reigns supreme for much of Main Street.”

“For family business owners, the new taxes that will be imposed on family businesses will shift the owner’s focus from succession to survival,” advises leading family business expert Don Schwerzler. “Many family businesses simply will not make it – the excessive new taxes will force them out of business.”

The Family Business Forum offers a “soap box” for family business owners to offer business tips and suggestions to other family business owners – and an opportunity to post their concerns about the failure of the leadership in Washington to address the economic needs of family-owned businesses.

To post on the Family Business Forum, click on

Business Plan Competition – Win $10,000

Huge tax increases will be impacting family businesses. Developing a business plan for your business has never been more important. In fact, it could make the difference whether your family business will survive or fail as a result of the excessive taxation and costly new government regulations.

Palo Alto Software markets business planning tools that we recommend to our family business clients. They announced the launch of their newest business plan competition, the "LivePlan $10,000 Boost." Anyone in the US with a LivePlan account and a completed business plan can enter, and one winner will be awarded the $10,000 grand prize.

For more information on Palo Alto Business Planning tools, go to

Clean Water Act

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. The law was passed to protect one of our nation’s most important natural resources – water.

Water is a resource that many Americans take for granted. They fail to fully understand how water affects our quality of life including being a major factor in economic growth – think “jobs”

Atlanta is an example of major American city struggling to deal with water-related issues – and one of the issues that concerns any business thinking about moving to the Atlanta metropolitan area.

One option for dealing with the scarcity of water – rainwater harvesting. It is a cost- effective strategy worth investigating for many family businesses.

Bob Drew, founder of Ecovie (, is a nationally recognized expert in rainwater harvesting and a member of the environmental consulting team at the Family Business Institute. A process design engineer with a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin and a MBA from UCLA, Drew serves as chairman of Southeast Rainwater Harvesting Systems Association (SERHSA) and a board member of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA).

“We have passed the point when we can take any available water source for granted”, said Drew. “Ignoring rainwater as a readily available means to increase water supply, stimulate and protect our economy, provide environmental and financial benefits and to preserve our quality of life makes no sense.”

First reaction is using rainwater for irrigation – but there are so many other applications such as toilet flushing and laundry.

For instance, Ecovie has recently installed a water harvesting system at Oliver House, an 88 unit senior living complex in Decatur GA.

In many cases, rainwater collection is part of a larger sustainability program designed meet corporate objectives and even to achieve LEED certification.

To consider how your family business can benefit from rainwater harvesting, click on

Learning and Innovation Strategies in a Family Business

Demakes Enterprises is a fourth generation family business and is headquartered in Lynn MA.

The meat business was organized in 1914 by Greek immigrants Jean and Thomas Demakes and today they are known by their brand, Old Neighborhood Foods.

Tom Demakes is the grandson of the founder and is the current president. He joined the sales department in 1967 after returning from Vietnam. Sales at the time were $1 million a year and today sales are about $100 million. That is quite a run, by any measure!

As part of our Family Business Assessment, we consider how well a family business does in adapting learning and innovation strategies. As part of their strategic planning process, how practiced are they in dealing with the factors of innovation? Do they plan for change (aggressive) or merely react to it (passive)?

Tom Demakes has a passion about learning and innovation – and leads by example!

For the past five years, Demakes and his sons Elias, Timothy, and Andrew, have spent their evenings taking classes at Suffolk’s Sawyer Business School.

The father and his sons took every class together while working full time at Old Neighborhood Foods. Today, the four will graduate together, all with Master in Business Administration degrees. What a great success story – we congratulate all 4 new grads from the Demakes family.

“We think learning and innovation in a family business is crucial – so important that an innovation strategy should be included in the succession management process,” suggests leading family business expert Don Schwerzler.

To learn more about our Family Business Assessment, go to

Happy Mother's Day

We would like to extend a special Happy Mother’s Day greeting to all of those “moms” involved in a family-owned business.

All too often the mom’s role in a business family is under-recognized and is not taken into account when the family business is developing their succession strategy.

“We often refer to “mom” as the Chief Emotional Officer (CEO) for the business family,” notes leading family business expert Don Schwerzler. “Moms are often the ‘emotional shock absorber’ for the business family.”

To read more about the mom’s role as Chief Emotional Officer for a family business, click on the link

Family Business Entrepreneurs

Family business entrepreneurs drive the American economy according to leading family business expert Don Schwerzler.

It is not surprising that most family business entrepreneurs can first be described as inventors and innovators – a new concept, a new idea, a better mousetrap, a smarter/faster manufacturing process…

“But being an inventor or an innovator is only part of the equation for being a successful family business entrepreneur,” according to Schwerzler.

The formula also includes vision and the wherewithal to turn that vision into a new reality – that is what makes a family business entrepreneur so special. As individuals they have a great deal of passion, energy and the ability to make personal sacrifices - a laser-focused commitment to being successful and, as is often the case, a healthy shot of “serendipity”!

To read more about how family business entrepreneurs create and sustain their own success, click on

Edible Arrangements

Congratulations to brothers Tariq and Kamran Farid.

An immigrant family from Pakistan, Tariq, in 1986 while still a senior in high school, purchased a flower shop using a $5,000 loan from a family friend.

While the flower business business grew to several locations – there was a new concept being developed. The brothers were beginning to use fresh fruit rather than flowers for arrangements. What an interesting innovation!

In 1999 they launched Edible Arrangements. The next year, a businessman from Boston asked about opening a franchise and the rest of the story continues to unfold!

Edible Arrangements has now opened their 1,000th franchise and sales will be close to $500 million this year.

“The Farid brother’s success story underscores the importance for innovation in a family business,” notes leading family business expert Don Schwerzler. “All too often, family business entrepreneurs are too involved working ‘in’ their business rather than working ‘on’ their business and they miss “hockey-stick” growth opportunities.”

To read more about family business innovation opportunities, go to

Need Money - Alternative Financing May be the Solution

Family business owners who need money to deal with cash flow problems should investigate alternative financing such as factoring and equipment leasing.

Other helpful financing options include:

Transactional Funding

Government Contract Financing

Lines of Credit

Commercial Real Estate Financing

Equipment Finance & Leasing

Vendor Sales Leasing

Loans (personal and business)

Import & Export Financing

The "home town banker" was the traditional loan maker to family businesses. But as local banks were gobbled up by the larger regional banks, the ability for a family business owner to call his/her friend down at the bank for a short term loan are days gone by!

"Smart family businesses have found that there are many other financing options - it is just a matter of finding the best financing option to meet the needs of your business," according to top family business expert Don Schwerzler.

“If you are a family business owner who is experiencing cash flow problems, our family business financing expert may be able to help."

To learn more about creative financing for your family business, go to

Mother’s Day Gift

If you are searching for a Mother’s Day gift for a special Mom (grandmothers too!), you may care to check out our FamilyLore Game.

The game is a family trivia game that is uniquely tailored for each family playing the game – while creating a permanent history for the family.

Family-focused games can be much more than a fun-time with the family.

“They can also be important as learning tools that enable family members to revisit and reflect on the values of the family - and a powerful way to help bond families together," according to leading family business expert Don Schwerzler.

"With the divorce rate being so high, over 50% in the USA, so much of a family’s legacy can be lost or forgotten."

There are a number of family-reunion type games available, but we like the FamilyLore Game because it can help protect and preserve a family’s legacy for the next generation of kids. This is truly the most unique feature of any of the family reunion games.

To learn more about the FamilyLore Game, go to

April is Austism Awareness Month

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Protection report found that in the U.S., approximately 1 in 88 children have autism spectrum disorder, a 23 percent increase over the organization’s previous estimation.

Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Their longtime friend Bernie Marcus (Home Depot Co-Founder) donated $25 million to help financially launch the organization.

Since then, Autism Speaks has grown into the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Check out their web site

If you have a child with autism or other disabilities, you may want to investigate creating a SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST. A Special Needs Trust, sometimes called a Supplemental Needs Trust, is used to benefit a person with a disability. The trust provides instructions on how to manage money that is being set aside to help care for a disabled person.

To learn more about a Special Needs Trust, go to

Constitution 101

Are American family businesses in jeopardy from our government?

The coming election has been characterized as an epic battle between two radically different world views – Capitalism versus Socialism. The election is going to determine whether we continue the Free Enterprise System that has made our nation exceptional or that we, as a nation, will slip down into the abyss of Socialism.

For those citizens who have not had an opportunity to attend a college class on the American Constitution and/or for those of us who may benefit from a “refresher” class on how/why our Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution, you may care to check out this on-line class offered by Hillsdale College.

A Liberal Arts school in Michigan, Hillsdale College is offering a great on-line class – Constitution 101: The meaning and History of the Constitution.

The course presentation is well done and the class is priced right - the class is free!

To check out this great learning opportunity, click on

Future Proof Your Family Business

Future Proof Your Family Business is the strategy leading family business expert Don Schwerzler recommends to family business entrepreneurs as they develop their plans for the upcoming year.

“Given the turmoil and gridlock, increased government regulations and lack of responsible political leadership in Washington DC, family business owners should prepare to make sure they can make rapid changes to the way they run their businesses,” says Schwerzler.

As the economy continues to degrade, family business owners should continue to trim costs at all levels – make sure that the business is being run efficiently and as effectively as possible.

On the other hand, when the economy does turn around and start to improve, those family businesses that have developed a solid operational foundation will be able to react quickly and gain competitive advantage in the marketplace.

To get a few great tips on how you can Future Proof Your Family Business, click on

Darn Tough Vermont

If you are searching for last minute gifts and are also interested in “Buying American", you may care to check out our newest Family Business Profile – about the Cabot Hosiery Mill and their brand Darn Tough Vermont.

Much of America’s textile industry has moved off shore. One hosiery mill in Vermont has refused that strategy.

“Nobody has ever outsourced something for quality”, says Ric Cabot, CEO of this 3rd generation family business.

His company’s mission: to provide the most comfortable and durable socks you can buy.

If you have a family member serving in the military or who enjoys outdoor activities – check out Darn Tough Vermont.

Darn Tough offers footwear in six active wear categories: ski/ride, hike/trek, run/bike, lifestyle, hunt and kid’s styles – all of which carry the industry’s only unconditional lifetime guarantee!

Darn Tough Vermont’s Tactical line of socks has been a top-choice for U.S. Warfighters.

In October of 2011, Darn Tough was awarded a contract from the U.S. Marine Corps for 450,000 pairs of its Merino wool Boot Socks.

The company also continues to deliver on a four-year contract with PEO Soldier for the Team Soldier Certified Gear sock of the U.S. Army’s Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble (FREE).

For read more about Darn Tough Vermont, click

National Adoption Data Base Network

It is estimated that each year 25,000 children born in the US are put up for adoption.

Yet many families who want to adopt wait, sometimes for years, to find a match – that is a heck of a disconnect.

Dr. Lori Barer Ingber, who earned her PhD at the University of Michigan, identified and solved the problem.

Like many innovations, once a problem is properly identified, the “fix” is often quite simple.

According to Dr Ingber, “The problem with the adoption system in the US was that there was not a searchable database of expectant and adoptive parents that allows adoption agencies with adoption programs to network with one another in a secure and confidential manner.”

Parent Match does just that! From different parts of the US, expectant and adoptive parents now have a better opportunity to find a match.

“Our patent-pending technology and interactive tools provide advanced search functionality that make it easier for agencies to help their clients find their ideal match with speed and confidence,” notes Dr. Ingber.

To learn more about Parent Match

Georgia Olive Farms

Jason Shaw (39) was a political science major at the University of Georgia. His “study abroad” program in Italy caused him to get acquainted with olives – and sparked an interest that is now growing into a new industry – Georgia Olive Farms (www.

Researching the olive industry in California raised the question for the family, “Why not here in GA?”

The family business includes his brother Sam (36) and his cousin Kevin (40). They currently have about 28 acres of olive orchard; have developed a nursery operation to supply olive trees to other growers; as well as creating a management company to help advise other agricultural entrepreneurs interested in learning more about commercial olive farming.

What makes the Georgia Olive Farms operation so interesting is the innovations they are making in an agricultural operation. The Shaw family has adapted a technique that was developed in Spain to enable mechanical harvesting – high density planting.

That translates into about 600 trees per acre. With 28 acres, that means they are currently growing over 16,000 olive trees.

The Georgia Olive Farms operation is a young orchard. Each acre produces about 1000 pounds of olives. When the olive orchard matures in about 5 years, the expected yield will be 5-6 tons per acre.

Currently the olive crop is processed into olive oil at a plant in Texas – but don’t be surprised if this enterprising farm family builds a processing facility in GA in the near future! Family business entrepreneurs like the Shaw family are the engines that drive our economy – they create most of the jobs in our country and create most of our wealth.

To learn more about the dynamics of a family business entrepreneur, click on the link

On-line Hair Dos

It never ceases to amaze us how easy it is to make money with an online business.

What starts out as a good idea for a blog, supported by easily available technology and a touch of entrepreneurial thinking and boom - a new business is launched!

A great case in point was reported by Kylie Conway, a television reporter with ABC in Utah.

The McKnight family business. Mindy and her husband Shaun have 5 daughters and a 7 month old son.

They remember that the reason they started the blog was to give a quick and easy way for parents to bond with their children each morning.

Shaun remembers the exact moment he had the revelation. Mindy was out of town and he had to fix his daughter’s hair for a church function.

“And she turned around and she said, ‘you do hair good for a boy,’ and gave me a huge hug,” said Shaun.

Mindy started Adopt a ‘Do, Cute Girls Hairstyles ( about two years ago. She started it as a way to share ideas with family and friends and showcase her daughters’ daily dos.

“I remember thinking, 'who is going to visit that?'” said Mindy’s husband Shaun.

Mindy’s creations along with her beautiful daughters created quite a stir and video requests started pouring in. So, she and Shaun started a YouTube channel as a host for their blog videos.

The “Cute Girls Hairstyles” channel began to get more and more hits until it became one of YouTube’s most popular.

In May, not long after launching their channel, the McKnight’s won YouTube’s “On the Rise” competition.

“We won by the most votes they have ever gotten,” said Mindy.

This award landed them a prime spot on the viral video mecca’s homepage for 24 hours.

“And we had over two-million views in one day!” said Mindy.

Today, Mindy’s “Twists Into Side Flip” video has more than three million views and the “Waterfall French braid” video has nearly six-million views. Since January the McKnight’s YouTube channel has had 30-million visitors…that’s about 1.5 million views a week.

And the family is about to be a primetime star. ABC’s 20/20 is including them in a YouTube special set to air Friday night at 9 p.m. mountain time.

The website is generating more and more revenue from advertising both from YouTube and the original blog... not to mention their Facebook page already has more than 30,000 fans.

Our congratulations to the McKnight family business!

To learn more about taking your family business on-line, click on

Family Business Leadership Integration – the Nexters

A recent survey of almost 700 family businesses in Australia yielded some interesting results:

57% of the owners were concerned about the motives of their potential successor

63% had concerns about the ability of their successor

60% of the respondents believed maintaining control of the family business was a high priority for them

88% thought family values improved the way a company operated.

THE most important observation – the future strategy of the business was ranked as the most likely cause of conflict in the family business!

Unfortunately, too many family business owners fail to understand the importance of having a family business leadership integration component to their succession management process.

The leadership integration strategy needs to be more clearly articulated than merely assuming that “turning the business over to the kids” is a relevant or a successful succession strategy.

“Succession is not a spectator sport,” notes leading family business expert Don Schwerzler. “Having a formal process in place for getting the Nexters involved in the succession process is critical for the on-going success of the family’s business.”

To learn more about family business leadership integration strategies for your family business, click on

Internet – a survival strategy for family businesses

Finks Department Store is a fourth generation family business located in Perth Amboy NJ.

The business started in 1923 and is making a significant change in their business model.

Howard Fink and his son Robert are closing the door to the store and moving their business on-line.

Their traditional store front retail store specializes in custom window treatments.

For years they were having parking problems - customers were finding it hard to do business with the Fink family’s store.

Howard’s younger son Daniel persuaded his dad to try a new strategy to increase sales that would by-pass the parking problems – take the business on-line.

The new strategy worked and soon 75% of their sales were being done on the Internet!

“We started off with liners and shower-curtain hooks,” Robert Fink said. “You wouldn’t believe how many we sell on a daily basis.”

Howard Fink said the change in business strategy will allow him and his son to enjoy their weekends. “It worked out really well,” he said.

Many family businesses have found new revenue streams by using the Internet to promote their business and to sell products and services - by developing a their own web site or by using other options such as eBay, Amazon as well as social media resources such as Facebook and Twitter.

To learn how you can use the Internet to boost sales for your family business, click on the link

Leopold’s Ice Cream

Congratulations to Leopold's Ice Cream, a Savannah GA family business tracing its roots to 1919, was selected by Canadian newspaper The Toronto Sun as one of the "10 Best Ice Cream Shops in the World."!

This is not the first time Leopold’s Ice Cream has received national media attention.

Stratton Leopold has set his sights on producing a national ice cream event to underscore the importance of patriotism among school children. Leopold is recruiting fellow ice cream shop owners across America to take part in the “I Pledge” campaign at the national level.

“I Pledge” rewards children 12 and under for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance from memory—with a free ice cream cone. The campaign, launched by Leopold’s Ice Cream on a local level in Savannah last summer, received the highest award in 2010 from the National Dipper at the National Ice Cream Retailers Association Convention.

“We couldn’t believe the enthusiasm this generated from kids and parents alike,” explains Stratton Leopold. “What a positive way to celebrate National Ice Cream month, which falls in July.” In Leopold’s view, nothing is as American as kids and ice cream—so he jumped on the idea, originally suggested by Jan Macchi, a Leopold’s Ice Cream customer.

When you visit the Leopold Ice Cream web site, you can see videos of youngsters “taking the Pledge” – along with an opportunity for web site visitors to recognize “favorite” ice cream shops across America!

The “I Pledge” campaign is a great example of a family business creating major media “buzz” without spending many thousands of dollars in the process. To read more about “altruistic marketing strategies”, click on

Happy 4th of July!

I watched the flag Pass by one day, It fluttered in the breeze. A young Marine Saluted it, And then he stood at ease.

I looked at Him in uniform So young, so tall, so proud, With hair cut square And eyes alert He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him Had fallen through the years. How many died on foreign Soil How many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down? How many died at sea How many foxholes were soldiers' graves? No, freedom isn't free

I heard the sound of Taps one night, When everything was still, I listened to the bugler play And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times That Taps had meant 'Amen,' When a flag had draped a coffin. Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children, Of the mothers and the wives, Of fathers, sons and husbands With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard At the bottom of the sea Of unmarked graves in Arlington. No, freedom isn't free.

Author unknown

Enjoy Your Freedom and God Bless Our Troops!

Atlanta-based Family Business Institute and their web organization Family Business Experts support the Wounded Warriors Project, an organization dedicated to the premise that “The greatest casualty of all is being forgotten”.

To learn more about the Wounded Warriors Project, click on

Estate Tax Relief – 2010

The Estate Tax Relief Act 2010 is officially known as the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act.

Effective January 1, 2011, the gift tax exemption was increased to $5 million, resulting in a reunification of the gift and estate tax exemptions for the first time since 2003.

We think every family business owner should take a few minutes to better understand how the Act may influence their estate planning - and doing it with a sense of urgency as the Act expires December 31, 2012.

Estate planning and probate administration attorney Laura Wartner has written an excellent article about the Act that is easy to read and understand.

To read her article, simply click

The Creature from Jekyll Island

If you are a family business owner or work for your family's business, The Creature from Jekyll Island should be on your reading list.

The book was written by Edward Griffin and when you have finished the book you will have a better understanding of how our governments (national, state and local) and our banking system corrupt the value of our money.

Most all of us know the old rags to riches formula - about family business entrepreneurs working hard, saving their money and making a good life for themselves and their families and achieving the American Dream.

That "American Dream" is becoming the "American Myth" due to the uncontrolled overspending of government and the accumulation of horrible amounts of debt that is destroying the economic foundation the United States.

If you have been working hard to build a family business legacy, take a few minutes to read our review of The Creature from Jekyll Island – and the exclusive interview conducted with the author, Edward Griffin.

Simply use this link


Don Schwerzler, founder of the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute and their web organization Family Business Experts, was featured as an expert commentator on the morning drive-time radio talk show (Chicago’s WVON 1690) hosted by Matt McGill.

The topic for discussion was “Nepotism” - and explored how Nepotism can work wonders or wreaks havoc, not only in family businesses, but also when the family business is “politics”! Needless to say, the discussion prompted some “spirited” commentary from listeners!

“If you are looking to study Nepotism in government, Chicago would make an excellent laboratory,” noted Schwerzler. “Former mayor Richard Daley wrote the book on machine politics, political dynasties and patronage.”

Political Nepotism is a fault-line issue in our country where our “practices” conflict with our “principles,” said Schwerzler.

For family businesses getting ready to transition the business from one generation to the next, an important lesson for the “Nexters” to understand is the difference between “taking charge” and “taking over”.

Adam Bellow, son on Saul Bellow, wrote an interesting book – In Defense of Nepotism. To read an interview we did with Adam Bellow, click on

Bookkeeper Embezzles $600,000

Wisconsin Kitchen Mart is a family-owned business located in Milwaukee and in business for 61 years.

According to the criminal complaint, over a five years period, bookkeeper Mary Wisconsin Kitchen Mart is a family-owned business located in Milwaukee and Radiske embezzled more than $600,000 by writing unauthorized checks – that ended up in her bank account.

As reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she stole the money to make her husband happy. “I wanted him to be happy. I wanted him to love me,” she said, noting the irony that he filed for divorce as soon as she got caught. “I did all this for him and hurt the people who really did care about me.”

“The depth and breadth of dishonesty here is breathtaking in its level of betrayal and greed,” Circuit Judge Jean DiMotto. “You ripped off everybody.”

As a side bar observation, one of the accountants for the company’s CPA firm assured the company that he could not see how Radiske could embezzle from the company!

“Some family businesses simply do not have an effective system of checks and balances on their money,” notes family business security expert Harold Copus ( “They develop a sense of trust for key employees (family and non-family employees) and are devastated when they find out that the trust has been betrayed.”

If your family business has suffered a lost as a result of an employee theft or embezzlement, you can alert other family business owners by sharing your experience – simply click on the True Crime Stories link

Simple -- But Scary Arithmetic

Today's headline [April 9] has Obama and Reid touting an historic accord, and Boehner indicating spending would be cut by $500 billion over a decade.

Let's do some simple arithmetic to see if this really warrants all the ballyhoo.

In rough numbers, the Budget submitted by the President to be approved by Congress is $4 trillion, with a projected deficit or shortfall of $1.7 trillion.

President Obama proposed to cut $100 million from spending. The GOP in Congress has been trying to reduce spending by $100 billion. The accord cuts $38 billion.

Simple arithmetic tells us that the projected deficit is 42.5 % of the budget - that is, 42.5 cents of every dollar spent has to be borrowed.

The GOP proposal to reduce spending represents a reduction of 2.5% - or $2.50 for every dollar budgeted and 5.6% of the projected deficit. A small drop in a big bucket!

President Obama's cut? That is .0025% of the budget and .0056% of the projected deficit. Yes, tiny fractions of one per cent – a farce.

However, millions and billions and trillions are hard to comprehend - too many zeros. So let's equate these huge numbers to a household's situation. In order to keep it simple, let's think of a household with a monthly budget of $4,000.

If they were like our government, they'd only have $2,300 of revenue coming in to pay for the $4,000 they budget to spend - a shortfall of $2,300. We might wonder how long that can go on.

If the much-maligned GOP fiscal dragon comes along to solve the budget problem with proposals to cut spending, she'd be saying the spending has to be reduced by $100, from $4,000 to $3.900. And the family would be rebelling and threatening to veto her tough planning. Of course, they'd still be spending $1,600 per month more than they earn.

If our fiscal gadfly comes in trumpeting his draconian measure to suffer and share the fiscal pain of budgetary cutback, he'd be proposing the HUGE reduction of 10 cents from the $4,000 budget.

So, they've made an historic accord to avoid government shutdown... and cut a whopping $38 off of the $4,000 family budget. But they plan to cut $500 off that budget in total over 10 years. Remember, they're short by $1,700 each period, so the %500 reduction over ten periods doesn't help much.

That's right. Obama threatened to veto over a paltry $100 reduction, but thinks we have an historic accord because he got muscled up from 10 cents to $38!

When he talked about change, he really meant it – “chump change”. And not one of our legislators should feel proud of this farce.

We welcome the opinion of all of our fellow Americans. If you would like to be part of our Family Business Forum, use our “Family Business Soapbox”! To post your thoughts and ideas – simply click on

It Can't Happen to Our Family Business...

Many family businesses owe their success to having family members working together for the common good of the business. There is a level of trust that is not normally seen in a non-family business.

But what happens when that trust is betrayed?

Recently, a Maryland businessman who appeared to be a pillar of the community (an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts and who had served on the country Chamber of Commerce for 6 years) was sentenced to serve a year in jail after being found guilty of embezzling $696,000 from his father’s sheet metal business.

During the period 2003-2009, this fellow embezzled the money by photocopying blank company checks, cashing the originals and then fabricating legitimate business payments in corresponding sums on the copies, according to the Assistant State's Attorney.

According to Harold Copus, head of security for Atlanta’s Family Business Institute, white collar crime in family businesses is more common than most people realize. One reason is that many family businesses choose not to prosecute the crime when it involves a family member or a trusted employee.

Has your family business dealt with fraud or white collar crimes perpetrated by a family member or a trusted employee?

We have a new section on our web site where family businesses can explain (anonymously) how the family’s trust was criminally betrayed. By sharing your experiences, you may save some other family businesses from being similarly victimized. To post your family’s true crime story, click on the link at the bottom of our Family Business Blog.

LinkedIn – Congratulations!

Don Schwerzler and the professional staff at the Family Business Institute and our web organization, Family Business Experts, wish to offer our “congratulations” to LinkedIn

A few days ago Schwerzler received an email from Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder and CEO of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn had just signed up the 100 millionth member – that’s right, 100 million members, and growing!

The email was sent to the first 100,000 members of LinkedIn and they were referred to as “innovators in the technology adoption lifecycle”.

The email also mentioned my member number – 10,549. From a marketing perspective, mentioning my membership number within the email was a nice touch!

If you are a member of LinkedIn, your member number is the number embedded in your LinkedIn profile URL (after "id=").

If you would like to learn more about the Family Business Institute, we invite you to visit our web site – just click on this link

Don Schwerzler Founder Family Business Institute Atlanta GA


For those of us who have served in the military, we are all familiar with the long-standing acronym SNAFU.

For us tax payers who cannot understand how our governments (federal, state and local) can be so fiscally irresponsible SNAFU!

Here is something that ought to drive every American up the wall – more SNAFU!

The Army and the Marine Corps are both upgrading their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) capabilities.

The Army is planning to spend $4 BILLION and the Marine Corps is planning to spend $1 BILION. No doubt the Army and the Marine Corps will find great value by introducing newer technologies to manage their logistics.

Both are using off the shelf systems.

Here is the rub – the Army is using SAP and the Marine Corps is using Oracle and the two systems are not naturally compatible. In addition to the costs for developing two different systems (that have the same basic goals…) the Defense department will have to spend millions of dollars every year to develop and maintain interfaces.

It is simply unbelievable that the planners in the Army and the Marine Corps cannot develop a single system that can accommodate the needs of each branch of service.

You may want to write/call your Senator and Representative about this type of waste!

SNAFU is also a term that can be applied to many family businesses that need to do a better job of organizing their organization!

Many family businesses are using ERP systems to develop the infra-structure that will enable them to grow their businesses in size and profitability.

For some family businesses, the ERP system is part of their succession management strategy.

To learn more about ERP, use this link

Captive Insurance Companies

For many family business owners, Captive Insurance Companies (Captives) are all about risk management or being self-insured.

But Captives can be so much more as a wealth preservation strategy for the family business.

Captives can be used in asset protection, estate planning, retirement planning, employee benefits and much more.

To read more about Captives, click on

States Taxing Themselves to Death

High taxes kill states.

There can be no better evidence than the 2010 Census. The states that lost House seats -- because they're shrinking, relative to the nation -- had taxes 27 percent higher than the ones that gained seats.

Of the seven states that don't have a personal income tax, four (Texas, Florida, Nevada and Washington) account for eight of the 12 seats apportioned to the fastest-growing states.

New York and Ohio lost two more seats. Other losers -- down one each -- are Massachusetts, Missouri, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana and Iowa.

What do they all have in common? High taxes.

Texas, with the second lowest taxes in the nation, gained four seats, Florida picked up two and Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington state each gained one. All have low taxes.

The states that lost seats ranked an average of 24th in taxes and had an average tax burden of $2,267 per capita (weighted more toward the states that lost more than one seat).

The states that gained seats ranked an average of 39th in taxes and had an average tax burden (weighted) of $1,788 -- 27 percent lower than the losing states.

People vote with their feet and flee to low-tax states. It's not the climate; it's the taxes.

In New York, the city grew from 7.3 million in 1990 to 8 million in 2000 to 8.4 million in 2010 -- but population upstate shrank dramatically. Some 1.7 million people left New York state in the last decade, the largest exodus any state experienced. Upstate New York is dying, killed by high taxes.

The New York City metro area can grow despite high taxes. It's the historical center for immigration from overseas, a glittering attraction for migration from within the country and the foremost global city. But upstate has no such offsetting attractions.

Consider Buffalo. From half a million people in 1960, it has fallen to a quarter of a million. It's lost half its population in 50 years.

The trend is unmistakable: The "losing" states drove out their high-income citizens (and middle-income jobs) with heavier tax burdens. As New York and other high-tax states confront their budget difficulties, they need to be mindful of this trend -- lest they wind up taxing their states into oblivion.

by DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN Published in the New York Post on December 23, 2010

Care to post a comment on the Family Business Forum?

Click on this link:


If you go to this web site, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq.

You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services. How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! It is FREE and it only takes a second. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these?

Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers over there need to know we are behind them. This takes just 10 seconds and it's a wonderful way to say thank you. Please take the time and please take the time to pass it on for others to do. We can never say enough thank you's. Thanks for taking time to support our military!

GPS Security Tip

“As more autos are equipped with GPS technology, the threat to homes and family has increased,” reports family business security expert Harold Copus.

GPS technology is certainly a driver convenience – but it can also make home robbery more convenient as well.

“If someone steals your car, the thief can use the GPS to locate your home and then use your garage door opener to access the garage and gain entrance into the home,” notes Copus.

According to Copus, a smart GPS security tip is to enter a “home address” a block or two away from your actual address. It won’t change the effectiveness of the GPS system in helping you drive to a destination – and you may save your family and your home from a home invasion and robbery.

If you want to learn more about security issues that can hurt your your family and your family business, click on the link at the bottom of the Family Business Blog

Aire Force One

Barlow’s Aire Force One is a third generation family business located in Pocatello Idaho.

The family business has been providing heating and air conditioning services since 1958. Wayne Barlow is the son of the founder and employs his wife, son, daughter and son-in-law in the business.

After Wayne’s father passed away the family started a Christmas time tradition that helps a needy family in the community – a free furnace!

"I know a lot of needy people over the years have been really helped out with the program, some people who have been really hurt financially and had medical problems and maybe couldn’t help themselves,” Barlow said.

The company accepts applications and Barlow personally visits each applicant and then makes a determination which applicant has the most need.

We think Barlow’s Christmas program has a two-fold benefit – it provides a needy family with a new furnace and it also provides the company with an “altruistic” marketing program.

To learn more about altruistic marketing strategies, click on the link at the bottom of this Family Business Blog

Waiting Your Turn for Health Care

Anyone who has ever been to a doctor’s office knows about the frustration of cooling your heels (heals?) in the waiting room! Another kind of “wait time” is waiting for surgical and therapeutic treatments – the time between the diagnosis and the treatment or intervention.

In the United States that wait time is short – probably better than any other country. But with “Obama Care”, the wait times are going to be comparable to other countries with socialized medicine.

For 20 years the Fraser Institute has been measuring the wait times for treatment and the wait times in Canada are getting worse:

Specialist physicians surveyed across 12 special ties and 10 Canadian provinces report a total waiting time of 18.2 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and elective treatment in 2010.

Patients in Ontario experience the shortest wait (14 weeks) followed by Manitoba (17.5 weeks), and British Columbia and Quebec (18.8 weeks).

Patients wait longest to undergo orthopedic surgery (35.6 weeks) and wait least for medical oncology treatment (4.9 weeks).

Canadians wait nearly 3 weeks longer than what physicians believe is "reasonable" for elective treatment after an appointment with a specialist.

From an economic standpoint, a study by Stokes and Somerville (2008) found that the cumulative total lost economic output that represents the cost of waiting for treatment for total joint replacement surgery, cataract surgery, coronary artery bypass graft surgery and MRI scans in 2007 was an estimated $14.8 billion.

To read more about the Fraser Institute report, click

Family Business Advisory Board – A Multi-purpose Tool!

“A Family Business Advisory Board is a multi-purpose tool” explained leading family business expert a recent workshop for family business owners.

There are many opportunities for an advisory board to help the business capitalize upon including:

Bringing additional depth and breadth to planning for the future

Providing specific assistance in assuring the continued success of company operations

Aiding in the selection and development of the next generation of owners and leaders

Helping to expand and diversify the business Counseling owners regarding succession and retirement plans

“Establishing a family business advisory board is a wonderful safety net for the business and the family if the owner of the business suffers a catastrophic event,” advises Schwerzler.

Another strategy Schwerzler recommends is to consider appointing your adult children to your advisory board. For example, if you have children going to college, having them serve on your advisory board is a smart way for creating “tenure” for them in the business. After college they may begin working in the business full time – but they have been serving on the advisory board for 3-4 years so they are not “greenhorns” to the management of the business.

Scheduling quarterly meetings enables the kids to stay connected to the family business while they are in school or if they are working outside of the family business – while they are still learning about the business and staying acquainted with the management team and any new strategies that are being developed and implemented.

For more information on Family Business Advisory Boards

Who Benefits From The Death Tax?

Because the “Death Tax” has received so much attention in the media, we know who the victims of the death tax are – family-owned businesses.

But who benefits from the death tax?

The most obvious answer is the government – the Death Tax takes money from family businesses - another opportunity to redistribute capital from the private sector to the public sector.

But in terms of total tax revenue, the Death Tax revenue is only a very small percentage.

So why does the Death Tax create so much debate in Congress?

In a very thought provoking article, Curtis Dubay, a tax expert with The Heritage Foundation answers the question that we should all be asking: Who Benefits From the Death Tax?

Where is the money and pressure coming from - that supports the death tax?

1. Tax & Estate planning is a huge revenue producer for lawyers and CPAs.

2. Coverage to off-set the cost of the death tax is a huge revenue producer for the insurance industry.

3. The death tax helps big business (and the unions) by destroying competitors/potential competitors.

To read the full article, click on this link

Death Tax Hurts Everyone!

According to Dr Patrick Fagan, the death tax kills small businesses, community – and civil society:

1. Small businesses are a primary source of sustenance for communities across America. The estate tax—known aptly as the death tax—is a direct assault on a community’s ecosystem.

2. Family and local businesses facilitate the smooth turning of the wheels of community life; they often supply the economic lifeblood to civic associations and charities that spring up in response to local needs.

3. Small-business entrepreneurs are the living icons of the American Dream—and the death tax turns their lifework into the American Nightmare.

4. The death tax generates only about 1 percent of federal revenues, yet has huge repercussions on the largest job and growth sector of the economy: The death tax discourages investment and savings, undermines job creation, suppresses productivity and wage growth, hurts those whose savings are tied up in land, hurts small businesses and communities, and contradicts the American ideal of wealth creation.

Family-owned businesses are the foundation upon which the economic system of the United States is based. When a family business fails, America is diminished.

Dr Fagan, is Senior Fellow at The Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., and his paper was published by The Heritage Foundation.

To learn more about how the death tax kills family businesses and the communities where they are located, we invite you to read the entire paper by clicking on this link

Lawler Foods

Lawler Foods is a second generation family business located in Humble TX.

Bill and Carol launched their business in 1976 and today son Mike is the company President.

Lawler Foods grew from a small leased space with one mixer and one oven to a fully automated operation serving national restaurant chains, wholesale clubs and retail outlets in the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe – and their large selection of desserts is certified Kosher dairy.

Recently Lawler Foods implemented an ERP system to better organize the flow of information. “The ability to get my hands on information, on reports quickly, really makes a difference”, notes Mike Lawler. “I can now get reports in minutes or hours that used to take days, maybe even weeks.”

You can visit the Lawler Foods web site at

“We work with many family businesses that are including ERP technology as part of the succession management process,” says leading family business expert Don Schwerzler. “As family businesses grow in size and complexity, it makes sense to invest in technology tools that provide the infra-structure necessary to sustain the growth and profitability of the family’s business.”

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) technology was originally designed for larger-sized international businesses. They were expensive to purchase and expensive to implement.

Mike Roman, family business ERP expert who has been working with business management systems for more than 25 years, suggests that ERP systems have to be evaluated “Not only on what they could do FOR a family business but to what they can do TO a family business.”

As the ERP software industry has grown, a wide variety of ERP application software, much of it industry specific, is now available and affordable for small to medium-sized businesses.

To better understand the question “What is ERP?” and how it could help improve your family business, click on the link

What is ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)?

“For many family businesses, ERP is a proven growth strategy that helps the family’s business be better organized and enables family business owners and their management team to make better decisions,” according to leading family business expert Don Schwerzler.

Mike Roman, Director of ERP Services at the Family Business Institute in Atlanta suggests “Using a well-tuned ERP system gives a family business a huge competitive edge in the market place in terms of quality, reduced costs, faster order processing times, reduced labor, smarter forecasting, lower inventories and higher profit.”

Mike is available to answer your questions about ERP at the Family Business Help Desk – just use our Ask The Expert Form.

There are many different ERP systems – some are for large and complex businesses, some are industry specific (manufacturing and distribution) and others are best suited for smaller and medium sized businesses.

For more information on What is ERP and to better understand how an ERP system can help your family business grow and prosper – and to use the Ask The Expert form, click on

Being Forgotten…

An open letter to Don Schwerzler (and all of our friends who value the work we do at the Family Business Institute and our web organization Family Business Experts) from Steve Nardizzi, founder of the Wounded Warrior Project:

Dear Don,

Lots of things happen on Memorial Day. People gather with family and friends for picnics. Swimming pools open in communities across the country. In a way, this day has come to mark the beginning of summer in America.

But none of this has anything to do with the meaning of Memorial Day, a time when our nation unites in solemn remembrance to honor those who gave their lives in defense of our nation.

This day is about the greatest sacrifice that anyone can make for America ... paying the price of life itself to keep you and me safe and free.

The fields where heroes lie are not silent; the stones that mark their resting places call out to us.

They call to young men and women to carry the torch of heroism, to fight for justice and liberty. But in order to take up this torch, our wounded warriors endure great suffering every day.

While we can never repay the debt we owe to those who died, let me take Memorial Day as an opportunity to thank you for honoring them by caring for their wounded comrades.

You too hold the torch high in patriotism and compassion. In you, our returning heroes are greeted by a grateful, respectful, concerned salute.

This Memorial Day, I stand with you in awe, humility and sincerest thanks ... in reverence for all those who have sacrificed to keep us free.


Steven Nardizzi, CEO Wounded Warrior Project

To learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project, click on

Family Business Embezzlement

A bookkeeper in Australia has been convicted of stealing $4.6 million from two companies where her parents were the majority stockholders!

Family business security expert Harold Copus is no stranger to white collar crime. Prior to heading up Security for the Family Business Institute in Atlanta GA, Copus was a Special Agent with the FBI.

“So many family businesses feel that having family members in key positions insulates the business from white collar crime – that premise is proved wrong every week,” according Copus. “There simply is no substitute for having a solid system of checks and balances to prevent wrong-doing from happening.”

His colleague, family business ERP expert Mike Roman, concurs. “Much of my work is helping family businesses select and implement ERP systems – creating the management infra-structure that is part of the succession management process as the family business transitions from one generation to the next.”

“During many ERP installations we uncover holes in the management system where the businesses are hemorrhaging large sums of money and sufferingself-inflicted service problems as a result of not having a formal management reporting system.”

To learn more about formalizing the management reporting system in your family business, click


If you are a family business owner or involved in a family business, what is your opinion on how Obama Care will impact your family business?

Do you think Obama Care will help or hurt your family business?

We invite you to use our “Soap Box” to make your ideas and opinions known.

When posting you ideas, please include something about your family business – what kind of business, short history, location, etc. Don’t forget to include a link to your web site – our way of saying thanks for taking time to opine!

To access our Family Business Forum, simply click on the link at the end of this Blog.

Family Business Forum - We need your input!

We need your help!

Our on-line Family Business Forum can be considered a "soap box" from which to share your observations, insights and experiences.

If you are a family business owner or part of a family that is in business together, we are seeking your ideas, comments and recommendations.

For instance, our on-line Family Business Forum section is a "soap box" where family businesses can offer fresh ideas to the politicians in Washington who are considering new polices to help improve the success of family businesses.

We also encourage family businesses to offer cost saving suggestions that could prove helpful to other family businesses during these troubled economic times.

Your point of view can be anonymous or you can include a link to your web site - an opportunity to introduce and present your company along with your wisdom!

Family Businesses Help Haiti

The devastating earthquake that hit Haiti triggered a huge response from family businesses.

Seeking to raise money for the people of Haiti, family businesses donated money, products and services.

We have put up a new page on our web site Haiti Help Organizations and we invite family businesses that are helping in the Haitian relief effort to post their story.

We would like to recognize these family businesses for their generosity and hopefully their story will inspire other family businesses.

To post the Haitian Help story from your family business, click on this link

Last Minute Gift Suggestions

FAMILYLORE GAME is a family trivia board game that becomes customized for each family, as it is played. Great fun for the entire family and a neat way to create a written history of the many special memories that make every family unique!

Solo Build It - Launch your on-line business in 2010! SBI - Why build a web site when you can build a "web business"!

VIDEO PROFESSOR makes learning computer software easy and successful!

PGOO – We think this is the best book on leadership and organization available, anywhere!

CHAOS BUSTERS – The Management Guide. 160 Key Business Questions for business owners, senior managers, middle managers, students – and those wanting an extra edge in the interviewing process when changing jobs.

CARBONITE - Computer backup made easy!

PROJECT KICKSTART – a great project management tool. Get organized for the New Year!

…… we have many more gift ideas!

For great gift suggestions, click on the link at the bottom of this page!

Death Tax Video

The American Family Business Foundation (not affiliated with our organization, the Family Business Institute in Atlanta) is the vanguard in the fight to repeal the “Death Tax” that is so harmful to family businesses.

According to leading family business expert Don Schwerzler, “If the politicians in Washington want to help family businesses, permanently repealing the Death Tax would be a huge step in supporting family businesses as they transition from one generation to the next.”

Schwerzler has been studying and advising family businesses for more than 40 years and he is the founder of the Family Business Institute and the web organization Family Business Experts (

For family businesses interested in viewing very compelling videos made by family businesses, we recommend a visit to the web site of the American Family Business Foundation web site

To learn more about succession management - visit our web site

Georgia Work$ – Innovative Idea!

“Innovation” is all about putting good ideas to work – and the Georgia Department of Labor has done just that with their “Georgia Work$” initiative:

GW$ allows unemployment insurance (UI) claimants to draw UI benefits, while receiving workplace training from a potential employer for a maximum of 24 hours per week for up to six weeks. Claimants qualify for up to $300 in training stipends (an average of $50 weekly) to help defray training related costs such as child care and transportation. Upon completion of training, participants receive credentials of acquired job skills and are considered for employment. About 60 percent of those who complete GW$ training have been hired.

Through GW$, more than 3,000 UI claimants have been hired upon completion of training and nearly 6,000 different Georgia employers have participated.

GW$ information is available in each of the department's 53 career centers throughout the state.

Interested UI claimants should take the following steps for program consideration:

Email inquiries to GW$ telephone operators are available at 1-877-WORKS09 (1-877-967-5709).

Benefits of Georgia Work$

Benefits to Employers

1. Pre-screened qualified individuals

2. Up to six weeks of pre-employment training

3. Trainee stipends covered by GDOL

4. Hiring of trainees at discretion of employers

5. Workers' compensation coverage provided by GDOL

Benefits to Claimants

1. Job-specific training

2. Opportunity to "get a foot in the door"

3. Demonstration of skills and talents

4. $300 maximum training stipend (an average of $50 per week) in addition to UI benefits

Benefits to the GDOL and State

1. Protects solvency of UI Trust Fund

2. Stimulates job growth

3. Provides career center staff with a new tool to help job seekers

Successful family businesses understand the Concept of Innovation – about making a good business, better. As part of our Succession Management Program, we use “innovation” as part the succession planning process. There are 10 major family business “mind-sets” that are addressed. To learn more, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Religious Cults – Pray or Preying

That was the subject of an address made by family business security expert Harold Copus. He recently spoke to a group of family business owners about security threats to their families and their businesses.

Copus, a former Special Agent with the FBI, has been featured on several episodes of the Dr Phil Show dealing with his work on finding and returning missing children and adults. He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and CNN and leads the security section for the Family Business Institute.

In 2002, President George Bush invited Copus to the White House for a conference on missing and exploited children. Copus was recognized for his work and was asked to attend the White House when President Bush signed legislation to create the Amber Alert Law.

In his security presentation dealing with risk management, Copus talked about his assignments dealing with religious cults. Kalan Schwerzler, a writer and editor with Family Business Experts, interviewed Copus regarding his experiences with religious cults and the ways in which they manipulate their followers.

FBE: You recently had a run-in with Jim Green's religious cult “Army of God” as a result of your working with the Dr. Phil Show. What was the basis of your contact with this group?

HC: I was looking for a young lady that had been desperately seeking religion in her life. She met someone that knew of Jim Green, listened to his message and was mesmerized by him and his beliefs that God only spoke through him.

FBE: How did you approach your initial contact with this group?

HC: I went to the group's compound outside Grants, New Mexico. Grants is about 100 miles east of nowhere. We decided to arrive at the compound unannounced. We were greeted with immediate hostility. This was a dangerous situation. We never found the daughter but later learned that she had gone to another compound in southwest Texas, near the Mexican border.

FBE: What is the foundation of these religious groups? How is it that these leaders are able to command so much power over those who follow them?

HC: What is so amazing is that there are so many of these groups. In social hierarchies like these, the leader is the only one that speaks directly to God and further, that God has chosen this person to be the one authorized to hear the message.

FBE: Seems like these groups are in stiff competition with one another.

HC: I sometimes wonder if they've seen the others' websites!

FBE: You used the term “social hierarchy”. How are these groups arranged socially?

HC: The leaders, for the most part, live the good life. They do not “toil in the vineyards” like their followers. They are too “busy” talking to God to do what those on the lower end of the spectrum are doing, those who are not getting the direct message. The leaders eat well while their followers eat little. Leaders have cars and take rides on airplanes while their minions walk.

FBE: Seems like it would be much better to be one of the leaders than a follower!

HC: I agree! As that leader, you get a comfortable bed, you enjoy the fruits of others' labor and you have hundreds of admirers hanging on your every word and action. The only fall back is that you have to constantly recruit.

FBE: Speaking of recruiting, are there any characteristics that are prevalent in the type of people who are most commonly drawn into these religious cults?

HC: Most, but obviously not all, that look toward joining a religious cult have low self-esteem and may have had a run in with the law and generally have had a drug problem in their past.

FBE: So it's safe to say that, predominantly, these religious groups seek out younger members. Is there any reason why these individuals are more susceptible to the recruiting efforts?

HC: The future of religious cults, as they are well aware of, is not in recruiting the over-50 crowd. By now those folks do not need or want another boss. They also do not need or want to work long hours, lose sleep and be generally starved to death.

FBE: How do these groups recruit new members?

HC: They troll bus stations in major cities and shelters where many young adults are found that have run away from home. They have also utilized modern technology and they create websites that attract a lot of their new recruits.

FBE: I understand you're most recent work has been retrieving individuals from religious groups like Army of God, what has your success rate been thus far?

HC: About 50/50. What causes removal of an individual to be difficult is that the longer they stay, the harder it is to convince them that the situation is an unhealthy one. Also, the younger they are the better chance of removing them and re-introducing them back to society.

FBE: When encountering these religious cults, what are the conditions you usually find the individual in? Are there any instances where their life was actually in danger?

HC: One of the most serious cases I've come across involved a girl in her mid-twenties. She belonged to a religious group that was fasting in preparation for Judgment Day. When the appointed day came without the finger of God destroying the earth, many of the group members became disillusioned.

FBE: What was the leader's reaction to the doubt he faced amongst his followers after that happened?

HC: Their leader knew immediately what he had to do. He called them back to the “Temple” and told them that their prayers and fasting convinced God to wait on destroying the earth. God had told him they had to go out and recruit new believers to save the world from the next day of destruction.

FBE: That was some fast thinking on his part! What happened to the girl?

HC: Well, the leader also called for additional fasting. The young girl was by now a true believer. She fasted with even more feeling than others. She refused both food and liquids, thus greatly increasing the danger of the situation.

FBE: With time obviously the leading factor in making a plan of action, what steps did you take to remove her?

HC: We had to get a court order to remove her from the compound to a hospital because of her imminent death from fasting. The leaders fought us in court but ultimately lost.

FBE: Were you ever able to convince her of the illegitimacy of the leader's “master plan”?

HC: Yes we were. She was one of our successful cases!

FBE: How did you manage to convince someone who shortly before was willing to give their life for their beliefs and their chosen leader?

HC: What pushed us over with her was that we had video and audio where the leader told me that he was not fasting. He led the members of his group to believe that he had been fasting but God had spoken to him and wanted him to “lightly” partake of food so he could lead his followers.

FBE: Having seen the vast, well-stocked and heavily armed compounds these religious cults establish, how is it that they are able to raise the necessary funds to begin with?

HC: They generally operate under a 501 c 3 of the IRS tax code that allows them to be exempt from taxes. Members are the ones who work to provide for the group. All monies from their efforts go into the general fund. Only the leader and his small group have access to the funds. Houses are sold, cars are re-titled over to the leaders, and 401ks are liquidated. All to show to the leader that the follower is a true believer.

FBE: To most of us, that seems completely outlandish! What would make these individuals willing to do something like this?

HC: Well, when an individual is “lost” so long and so downtrodden in life, that when these religious cults find them and give them “meaning” in their lives, they're willing to do anything that's asked of them. The feeling of family and belonging can be a deeply motivating thing. Leaders of these groups know this, and take advantage of that fact.

FBE: You've discussed the hierarchy between the leaders and the members of these groups, are there any peculiar social conditions among the members themselves?

HC: Absolutely. Men are usually separated from the women. Men work hard while women do a lot of the household chores. The leader usually decides who can “sleep” with one another with the exception that the leader can “sleep” with whom he selects.

FBE: Another aspect of those groups which just seems wholly unappealing to most, I'm sure! Well, Harold, thank you so much for your time and expertise on this subject. Hopefully, you will continue to help families and family businesses cope with the involvement of family members and friends with these groups. Is there any parting information that you would like to include?

HC: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to relate some of my experiences so that the early warning signs can be recognized and quickly handled in the appropriate manner. I think it's crucial for everyone to understand that if a family member or friend begins to follow one of these religious cults that intervention at its earliest point is the best way to keep the person out of the harmful grasp of the leaders and other group members. The longer they stay, the harder it is for them to leave.

FBE: Thank you Harold, once again.

If you would like more information on Harold Copus and his work with family businesses, please visit

Family eBusiness

"Family eBusiness" is the term we apply to the web site of a family business.

The success of your family eBusiness may be crucial to the survival of your family’s business!

If you are trying to understand “WHY” your family ebusiness is sitting dead in the water – we have some powerful links that will help you understand the action you need to take to improve the performance of your family ebusiness. The material is presented so anyone can understand – there is no technical jargon – just straight forward information.

If you have been “down-sized” or your company has been merged or gone out-of-business, you know how tough the job market is.

One option, perhaps the best option, is to start your own family ebusiness.

It might be a better option than sitting at home and wasting time sending out resumes.

If that be the case, the following links might be the launching pad for your new career!

It can be that easy! Click on the link at the bottom of this Blog to get more information about SBI!

Your Personal Guide To Online Success!

Video Demo Guide To Online Success!

Complimentary Affiliate Masters Course!

Make Money Selling Other People’s Products!

Join The 5 Pillar Affiliate Program!

Attention Auction Sellers!

Will Blogging Build Your Business?

Solo Build It -- Case Studies!

Decision Making Made Easy!

Compare Solo Build It Feature By Feature & Dollar By Dollar!

Become An Infopreneur!

SBI Extends Big Media Reach!

WAHM (Work At Home Moms)!

WAHM-It – The Masters Course!

Starting A Work-From-Home-Business!

Students - - Make Money And Enhance Your Resume!

Tired of “Retired”-- Become An Internet Business Consultant!







The reality for most family businesses is that the opportunities online far outweigh the difficulties.

When you strip the hype and distortion away and look at the situation, it is clearly possible to succeed online.

For additional information on how you can create or improve your family ebusiness, click on the link

E-Verify - Deadline Reminder – Sept 8th

On September 8th, companies with contracts with the federal government must enroll in the E-Verify program run by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.

Government contractors and sub-contractors are now required to use the E-Verify program for all new hires and other employees that are used to work on or support any government contracts.

State and local contracts may also be affected. For instance, in Georgia, businesses seeking to do state and local government contracts were required to use the E-Verify system since early this past summer.

There are threshold exemptions and exclusions available that cover some products and services – so the best advice is to check with an immigration attorney to make sure your family business is in compliance.

To read more about the E-Verify program, click on the link

Wal-Mart’s New On-line Initiative

Wal-Mart has launched a new “on-line initiative” – a kind of affiliate program or strategic partnerships with other retail businesses.

It is reported that this new program will add a million new products to Wal-Mart’s current on-line business.

This new on-line program seems like a smart strategy as it will enable Wal-Mart to produce more sales, especially in those areas in the US and abroad where they do not have stores. The new program helps to illuminate how personal computers will continue to be virtual mini-stores – supporting and increasing sales from conventional brick and mortar stores.

For the retailer partners in this program, it means getting access to Wal-Mart’s huge marketing platform, quickly!

The retailer partners are strong businesses that can support the new program in terms of inventory and a wide variety of product - and a proven track record for outstanding customer service.

Developing similar on-line strategic partnerships or affiliate programs is not new – just new to Wal-Mart.

We have helped many of our family business clients develop similar kinds of programs as part of their growth strategy. Some are on-line and others are organized differently. The common thread is that the market place is getting more competitive and wider in scope – so family businesses need to innovate and re-invigorate their business development strategies. Don’t forget that old cliché definition of insanity – that is when you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results! Unfortunately, for many family businesses, that defines their sales and development strategy.

Simply stated, if your family business is not aggressively developing affiliate relationships and strategic partnerships, your business development strategy is flawed – it is that important.

A good place to start is your web site – finding other companies that can help you promote and sell your products or services. Conversely, developing your web site program to engage the affiliate programs of other companies.

Given the current business slow down, now is a good time to consider new sales and marketing strategies – not just sitting around waiting for the economy to pick up (or getting a government stimulus package for your family business… don’t hold your breath!).

Get started now so your family business can take full advantage when the economy starts growing again.

If you are considering launching a new business – using a web site strategy is the least expensive and the fastest way to develop a revenue stream! In other words, don’t just have a web site – make it a web business!

To learn more about how a web site affiliate program can support the growth and business development for your family business, click on the link

The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point – How Little Things Can Make a Difference should be a “must read” for every family business owner.

While the book may not be a “business book” per se, reading it in the context of a family business will enable the family business reader to gain a better understanding of family business dynamics

Many family businesses reach a certain level of activity – but never achieve enough momentum to sustain and continue their growth and profitability - like an airplane that stalls and then stops flying. If this sounds like your family business, you may want to pick up a copy of The Tipping Point!

To read more about family business dynamics and The Tipping point click on the link

Tillie’s Flower Shop Celebrates 133 Years!

Amos Kuechenmeister, a German immigrant, started the family's business in 1876.

His grandson, Ken Denton (67) is the current owner of Tillie’s Flower Shop in Wichita, Kansas. Earlier this month they celebrated their 133rd anniversary.

That is a long run for any family business – and especially so for a flower shop business.

Denton underscores how important the planning process has been to the success and longevity of the family’s business.

"We put together a very detailed plan every year — 150 pages just for each holiday," he said. "Not that we can't change that plan if circumstances change, but you need a plan."

Denton was an aeronautical engineer before taking over the business when his mother died. The engineering training may have caused him to take a more planful approach to running and growing the business.

"Watch your debt," the 67-year-old Denton said. "When you have a business and are doing well, don't think you're doing so well you bet the farm.

"That's something Tillie's has never done. We've always been very careful with our expansion."

But like many owners of generational family businesses, there is a personal reason for making sure the business is stays on solid ground, "I don't want to be the guy that shuts down a 133-year-old family business," he said.

Every family business can benefit from project planning and project management. That is one characteristic that most successful family businesses share – they tend to be more planful in their management style.

For some tips on project management best practices, click on

Hiller’s Markets – The Next Generation

A key component of our succession management process is to encourage “next-generation” members of a family business to work outside of the family business for 3-5 years before joining the family’s business. This “seasoning process” enables the younger family members to gain some life experience and to enhance their resume by learning how other successful businesses, do business. And, as one family business dad told us, “I would rather they make their mistakes while they are on someone else’s payroll!”

Hiller’s Markets is a good case in point. A Michigan-based grocery chain, Jim Hiller is the second generation CEO. His son Justin recently joined Hiller’s Markets as VP after serving for 3 years with a super market chain in California. There he gained experience in grocery buying, warehouse and store management.

“When you’re building a family owned company, the ultimate dream is that one of your children will follow in your footsteps,” says Jim Hiller, CEO and owner of Hiller’s Markets. “My father was delighted when I transitioned from practicing law to taking over the family company. And now, I am equally thrilled that my eldest son is choosing to continue our legacy.”

Justin will likely find his dad to be a smart, tough-minded business mentor. Earlier this year, Jim Hiller made the decision to remove cigarettes from his chain of stores.

"There are times when one's head and one's heart conflict, and in this case, my heart and my beliefs took precedent over my head," Hiller said. "My chief financial officer gave me reasons why not to do this. From economic implications, this is foolish. Those of us who care believe it's the right thing to do."

"I don't want to be responsible for killing people, plain and simple," Chief Executive Officer Jim Hiller said. "I believe we all engage and indulge in vices ... But with cigarettes, it's not about people who don't choose to smoke, but about those around them that don't."

Ann Arbor resident Linda Seitz said simply, "Good for them. I think I'd tell someone to shop here because of that."

To learn more about the Family Business Experts succession management process, click on the link

Family Business Help Desk

The “best of times” and the “worst of times” are two common responses to recent surveys of family businesses. While the two responses are at opposite ends of the economic spectrum, both are intrinsically linked to change and change management.

Some family businesses have an advisory board that can help family businesses make smart decisions.

But what if you are a family business that does not have an advisory board – where can you go to get a quick answer to questions you and your family business are facing in these turbulent economic times?

One on-line resource is the Family Business Help Desk – a free service sponsored by Atlanta-based Family Business Institute and their on-line organization, Family Business Experts.

When you have a question about family business issues, they can help.

For more than 40 years, Don Schwerzler has been studying and advising family businesses and is an internationally recognized expert in dealing with family business dynamics.

In the early 80’s Schwerzler organized the Family Business Institute ( The mission of the Family Business Institute is to help family businesses grow, to help maintain healthy family relationships – and then, when the time is right, to help transition the business from one generation to the next.

Family Business Experts ( is the web organization that supports the Family Business Institute. Launched in 2001, Family Business Experts is the highest ranked family business resource on the Internet.

“If you have a question about your family business, use this form to pose a question about your family business issues to the Help Desk – a member of our team of family business experts will respond, quickly,” said Schwerzler.

To learn more about the Family Business Help Desk, click on

Re-Imagine Your Family’s Business

Launching a family business is not unlike a couple getting married – both are built on a future-vision that works out a lot different than the reality 25-30 years later!

Like personal relationships, family businesses can get stale – the enthusiasm for change diminishes and then relationships and family businesses tend to run on auto-pilot.

And then there is the succession planning and management issues associated with aging and death. Sort of like spending a lot of time and money planning a party that nobody wants to attend!

With the pace of many family businesses slowing as a result of the current economic recession, now is a good time to “re-imagine your family’s business”.

Instead of just pushing forward with a business model created decades ago – how can the knowledge gained in the interim be re-purposed to create a more exciting, a more vigorous business model?

In a family business, innovation is key to its on-going success. But there are some critical mind-sets that must be overcome for family innovation programs to succeed. These mind-set issues are addressed on the family business innovation page on our web site.

To learn how you can “re-imagine your family’s business”, click on this link

Wounded Warrior Project

The third Saturday in May is ARMED FORCES DAY – a day set aside to honor the men and woman who serve in our nations military.

We would like to bring your attention to the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that is dedicated to the premise that “The greatest casualty of all is being forgotten”.

Wounded Warrior Project

The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower wounded warriors.


To raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women

To help severely injured service members aid and assist each other

To provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of severely injured service members

To learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project and how you can help and how you can get involved in this important project

Family Business Help Desk

If you are a family business owner or a family member involved in a family business, where do you go to get expert advice for tough questions?

The Family Business Help Desk is supported by the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute and their web organization, Family Business Experts.

Founded by Don Schwerzler, the Family Business Institute is internationally recognized for pioneering the multi-disciplinary approach to deal with the unique and complex issuses that confront families in business together.

In addition to their highly acclaimed web site, Family Business Experts also publish the ezine Understanding Family Business and the Family Business Blog.

To learn more about the Family Business Help Desk, click on the link

Swine Flu Symptoms

The symptoms of swine flu in humans are similar to those of infection with other flu strains. • Fever • Cough • Sore throat • Body aches • Headache • Chills • Fatigue • Diarrhea • Vomiting Symptoms develop three to five days after you're exposed to the virus and continue for about another week. You can pass the virus to other people for about eight days, starting one day before you get sick and continuing until you've recovered. When to see a doctor See your doctor immediately if you develop flu symptoms, such as fever, cough and body aches, and you have recently traveled to an area where H1N1 swine flu has been reported. Be sure to let your doctor know when and where you traveled. Also see your doctor if you develop respiratory symptoms after you've been in close contact with someone who may have been exposed to H1N1 swine flu. Doctors have rapid tests to identify the flu virus, but there is no rapid test to differentiate swine influenza A H1N1 from other influenza A subtypes.

Source: The Mayo Clinic newsletter

Family Businesses should have a contingency plan in place – a “what happens if” plan.

One of the remarkable stories out of Katrina was Oreck, the company that manufactures and sells/services vacuum cleaners. Their plant on the Gulf Coast was heavily damaged – but because they had a well thought out contingency plan, they were able to be back in business 9 days after Katrina hit. FEMA could take some lessons…. You can read about Oreck’s success story by clicking on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Contingency planning can cover many different situations – from natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, fire, floods, swine flu and including the unexpected death or incapacitation of key members of a management team.

To read more about contingency planning for your family business, click on this link

Cocooning and Nesting

“Cocooning” and “Nesting” are two terms used to describe a new trend that is being talked about by market researchers.

While the overall economy is in shabby shape, home-related product sales are increasing suggesting that instead of going out, more and more people are staying home to entertain and to spend more time with family and friends.

One product related to home entertaining is called the Big Green Egg. It is a ceramic kamado-style cooker that is a combination smoker and grill. It has become so popular that it has a cult-like following of aficionados! They even get together for the annual EGGtoberfest!

Cocooning, nesting and the Big Green Egg!

When it comes to family reunions or just being at home having fun with your own family, we recommend a family trivia game – a board game that is really unique.

The concept of the game is built on 20 different categories of questions dealing with family trivia.

“What was Grandpa’s first car?”

“Which family member lives the furthest away?”

“What is Aunt Betty’s favorite bible verse?”

“Why was Uncle Earl awarded the Silver Star?”

What happens is that the questions spur a lot of fun conversations and memories. The game is a wonderful way to connect generations of family – and to re-affirm the importance of the family’s values.

To learn more about this family trivia game, click on the link

Swimming Naked?

“It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked” is a classic quote from Warren Buffett.

Today, many family businesses are finding short-term solutions to their financial needs using “alternative financing”.

Alternative financing can be a smart source of funding for your business – financial strategies that include equipment leasing, factoring, peer to peer lending, just to name a few of the options available to a smart business owner.

To learn more about equipment leasing

To read more about factoring

To learn more about peer to peer lending

FREE CONSULTATION - If you want to explore how alternative financing can help your family business

Now is a good time to learn more about financing options and strategies for your family business. To learn more, click on

Downsizing Strategies

For family businesses dealing with decreases in orders, many are implementing reduced hours as a counter strategy to across the board staff reductions.

Work-weeks are being reduced from 40 hours to 32 hours – even 24 hours so that the company can maintain its work force.

Kim S. Cameron, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan , found in doing research that the more that companies opt for flexibility in downsizing, the better they fare when the economy turns around.

Re-directing some employees from their regular jobs to work projects on facility maintenance is another strategy reported by some of our family business clients. Painting, cleaning, removing old equipment to create more work space or better work flows, getting rid of old inventory, etc.

Several family businesses reported that they are allowing some of their people to do volunteer work for schools, churches and various charities while still remaining on the company payroll.

During times of reduced orders, re-building and re-designing the infrastructure of the family’s business makes sense. Now is a good time to review all those “to do” lists. A good technique for family business owners is to do a SWOT Analysis to see how to better organize their organization – to make it more effective and more efficient.

SWOT Analysis is easy to do and can produce significant results. Enlist your management team to conduct a SWOT Analysis of their departments or areas of responsibilities.

To learn how to use SWOT Analysis to improve the performance of your family business, click on the link to our web site

Build a Web Business Not Just a Web Site

With corporate down sizing and lay-offs, the current economic depression can provide an opportunity for many new entrepreneurs to start their own business.

The Small Business Administration reports that over half of all U.S. businesses are based out of an owner's home and home-based businesses contribute more than $530 billion to the U.S. economy each year. With more than 19 million entrepreneurs currently running a business from home, most experts believe this trend is at an all-time high.

Solo Build It (SBI) was developed by Ken Evoy. His concept was to offer other entrepreneurs a platform and methodology for doing more than merely building a web site – but to help people build a web business.

The software is easy to use and inexpensive – a real value.

First step is to read about the process – what makes it work. Those tips and strategies are offered - even before you make a buy decision!

To learn more about building your on-line business, click

Autism Speaks

With so much of the news focused on government bailouts – with “government” being touted as the “only” option to action, little attention is being paid to individual Americans and what they can get accomplished when they roll up their sleeves.

A few years back, Bob and Suzanne Wright founded AUTISM SPEAKS when their grandson Christian was diagnosed. Today it is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization devoted to Autism.

From the AUTISM SPEAKS web site:

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Today, 1 in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.

Autism spectrum disorders can usually be reliably diagnosed by age 3, although new research is pushing back the age of diagnosis to as early as 6 months. Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors in their child or their child's failure to reach appropriate developmental milestones. Some parents describe a child that seemed different from birth, while others describe a child who was developing normally and then lost skills. Pediatricians may initially dismiss signs of autism, thinking a child will “catch up,” and may advise parents to “wait and see.” New research shows that when parents suspect something is wrong with their child, they are usually correct. If you have concerns about your child's development, don't wait: speak to your pediatrician about getting your child screened for autism.

If your child is diagnosed with autism, early intervention is critical to gain maximum benefit from existing therapies. Although parents may have concerns about labeling a toddler as “autistic,” the earlier the diagnosis is made, the earlier interventions can begin. Currently, there are no effective means to prevent autism, no fully effective treatments, and no cure. Research indicates, however, that early intervention in an appropriate educational setting for at least two years during the preschool years can result in significant improvements for many young children with autism spectrum disorders. As soon as autism is diagnosed, early intervention instruction should begin. Effective programs focus on developing communication, social, and cognitive skills.

For families dealing with Autism, we urge them to learn more about Special Needs Trusts. Autism is a life-time disorder and a Special Needs Trust can provide parents and other family members a vehicle to provide and assure financial security for a family member with Autism.

You can learn more about Special Needs Trust by clicking on the link to our web site

Weakest Link in the Chain

There is much speculation about the root cause of the financial crisis that pushed our country into a recession. Dr Jeremy Siegel, a highly acclaimed finance professor at Wharton, reports in the Wharton newsletter: “Financial firms bought, held and insured large quantities of risky, mortgage-related assets on borrowed money. The irony is that these financial giants had little need to hold these securities; they were already making enormous profits simply from creating, bundling and selling them. "During dot-com IPOs of the early 1990s, the firms that underwrote the stock offerings did not hold on to those stocks," Siegel says. "They flipped them. But in the case of mortgage-backed securities, the financial firms decided these were good assets to hold. That was their fatal flaw."

Explaining his theory further, Siegel pointed out that many troubled banks and insurers continued to prosper in almost every other aspect of their businesses right up to the 2008 meltdown. The exception was the billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities that they bought and held on to or insured even after U.S. home prices went into a free-fall more than two years ago. American International Group (AIG), the insurer that received an $85 billion federal rescue package last September, is a prime example. Some 95% of its business units were profitable when the company collapsed. "AIG has 125,000 employees," Siegel noted. "Basically, 80 of them tanked the firm. It was the New Products Division, which had an office in London and a small branch office in Connecticut. They came up with the idea of insuring mortgage-backed assets, and nobody at the top decided it wasn't a good idea. So they bet the house -- and the company went under."

Imagine that, AIG with 125,000 employees and the company is crippled by one department with 80 employees that had run amuck.

Our colleague at the Family Business Institute, Dr Ken Mackenzie, is recognized as one of the worlds leading experts in Organizational Theory and Leadership. His classic book The Practitioners Guide For Organizing an Organization (PGOO) deals specifically with the importance of organizational alignment and “how” the leadership in an organization, succeeds. The AIG experience underscores just how important leadership alignment is in an organization.

To learn more about leadership accountability in your family business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog

Connecting Family and Business

The logo for the Family Business Institute consists of three interconnected circles. Each circle represents a constituency or “system” involved in a family business: Ownership, Management and Family.

Problems arise in a family business when these three “systems” or “spheres of influence” are out of synch with one another.

Typically, the “owner system” is more focused on strategic issues affecting growth and profitability. The “management system” is more tactical – the focus is on executing the day to day operations of the business in an efficient and effective manner. The “family system”, involves both those family members working in the business as well as those who are not, is generally focused on the legacy of the family business – for example, as an economic engine for the family or the influence a family business has in community.

Maintaining the equilibrium amongst the three “systems” is difficult – and even more complex when an individual is engaged in more than one sphere of influence.

In a survey of family businesses sponsored by Laird Norton Tyee, a wealth management firm, revealed that those family businesses that did a better job of managing the input from the three spheres of influence tended to be more profitable than their competitors.

Bruce Nordstrom, former Chairman of Nordstrom said “At Nordstrom, the culture of both our business and our family is aligned. It is the most valuable asset we have.”

Conducting family business retreats is an excellent way to keep the communication channels in a family business open and, positive and productive. The family business retreat can help balance the three spheres of influence in family business and can enable the family business to gain a competitive edge in the market place.

To learn more about family business retreats, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog

Family Business Security Alert – Tiger Kidnappings

As a family business owner, what would you do if a criminal gang breaks into your home and kidnap your wife and daughter and then the bad guys tell you that your wife and daughter will be killed unless you delivered as much cash money as you can physically carry to an isolated location?

Sound far-fetched? Not so!

A few weeks ago the CEO of a family business had that happen to him. Five armed thugs broke into his home late at night and kidnapped his wife and daughter. Later, his wife and daughter freed themselves and alerted the police – about an hour after the man had delivered more than $1.7 million to the kidnappers – money he had been forced to rob from his work place.

This scenario happens frequently enough to have a name from law enforcement officials – “tiger kidnappings”.

According to Harold Copus, Family Business Security Expert with the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute, the name “tiger kidnapping” comes from Asian gangs who “stalk” their victims like a tiger stalks its prey.

A former Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Copus frequently appears as an expert commentator for security and terrorism issues on Fox News Network, CNN and Court TV.

Most recently Mr. Copus has been featured in multiple appearances on the Dr. Phil Show for his work in finding and rescuing missing children and adults.

In 2002, President George Bush invited Copus to the White House for a conference on missing and exploited children. Copus was recognized for his work and was asked to attend the White House when President Bush signed legislation to create the Amber Alert Law.

Copus warns family business owners “Kidnapping for ransom is an escalating threat to business families in the US – especially as the recession deepens, driving more people to committing desperate acts”.

Copus encourages family business owners not to take their family’s security for granted – that security techniques and strategies that were adequate in the past are less effective and should be upgraded. “It is smarter to prevent the kidnapping than having to deal with a kidnapping,” says Copus.

The first step is to have a security expert conduct a security audit – and then take the necessary steps to better protect your family.

The criminal element never suffers an economic downturn. When economic times change, they resort to different tactics. Tiger kidnappings are an example of this.

Copus predicts that as economic conditions worsen, family businesses will discover more examples of internal theft than they had before. According to Copus, “when family businesses are in a period of growth and prosperity, “good times” provide a lot of camouflage for internal theft and other kinds of white collar crime. But it is harder to hide the activities of a thief in bad times”.

If you have a security concern about your family or your family business, you can contact Harold Copus using this link to our web site

Family Business Contingency Planning for An Uncertain Future

According to Don Schwerzler, founder of the Family Business Institute, “If you are a successful family business owner, you are probably a “professional worrier” too! You move from one problem/crisis to another – sort of like being trapped in a batting cage with an unending supply of baseballs being thrown at you!”

One of the problems of this family business model is that when larger sized issues confront a family business, the business can become paralyzed by the fear of the unknown and is unable to react quickly to major problems. Dr. Ken Mackenzie, family business leadership expert, indicates that the success of a family business is “defined by its ability to adapt to change, rapidly".

Contingency planning may be the smartest strategy (project) to start the New Year. The global recession is going to impact every family business. If the recession does not hurt your family business directly, you can also be impacted when suppliers and vendors unexpectedly go out of business.

A contingency plan for a family business should include:

Policies dealing with your people if the business is forced to reduce staff

Evaluating every customer as to their current and future value

A profit contribution analysis of your product/service lines

A plan for significantly reducing costs – a good time to renegotiate rent and leasing agreements, bank service fees, credit card processing fees, etc.

Consider cash flow options such as factoring and equipment leasing

Family Business Financing Options - For many family businesses, financing using debt is a foreign concept. Family business owners tend to disdain any kind of debt. However, in this recession period, a smart family business owner may want to start exploring and/or considering other options:

Bank loans

Personal loans

Financing a business with government small business loans

Home equity loans

Cash surrender value [CSV] of life insurance

Charge cards

Borrowing from your IRA

Financing a business with equity

Venture capital

Angel investor

Foundation and government grants

To learn more about Family Business Contingency Planning, click on the link

Factoring – Family Business Finance Strategy

Factoring can be an attractive source of funding because it does not have the same constraints imposed by the traditional asset-based lending used by banks. For example, factoring companies look for quality receivables, not a strong balance sheet or past performance of your business – the credit history of the customer is more important. To reiterate, when getting help with factoring, the factoring company is interested in the quality of the receivable, not the financial history of the company that owns the receivable.

Another very important attractive aspect when getting help with factoring is that fees are based on when the receivables are funded, not when they are created. In other words, if a customer wants to hold their receivables in-house and then send them over to a factor when they need them to be funded, the customer can control their fees due to the factor.

In most cases the factor will allow the customer to choose which accounts are factored. Some factors can also do somewhat of a mixture of ABL and factoring where they can charge a flat fee on some accounts and a 15 or 30 day plan on others. This gives family business owners a great deal of flexibility in financing their business.

Because factoring is a less complicated financial transaction, it requires significantly less time from the family business owner. Factoring allows business owners to concentrate on what they do best - increasing sales and production needed to grow their business.

The Benefits of Factoring

Obtain a continuous and immediate source of working capital and cash-flow

Expand your business / Increase sales / Fill more orders

Eliminate the risk of credit losses

Factors provide a professional and courteous credit checking and collection payment organization for your business

Factoring provides a flexible funding program that increases as you increase your sales

Pay suppliers timely / Take cash discounts / Increase credit limits with suppliers

Have funds for payroll, taxes and capital to buy equipment or inventory on demand

Extend credit to customers on large orders without having them pay COD

No long-term contracts

Reduces overhead - Helps businesses downsize and achieve greater operational efficiency

Off balance sheet financing

To learn more about the benefits of factoring as a family business finance strategy or if you have a question for our Family Business Finance Expert, click

Chaos Busters – The Management Guide

As the economy continues to worsen, many family business owners are asking our advice for help in protecting their business. “What can we do to minimize the recession on our family business?” is a frequently asked question posed to our Family Business Experts.

For many business leaders we recommend a nifty business tool called Chaos Busters – The Management Guide.

Chaos Busters is not a typical management guide – one that offers the routine “business 101” homilies, a business “how to” guide that would appeal to new business startups.

Chaos Busters is a “management check list” for more experienced business leaders – for family business owners, senior managers, consultants and executives in the job market.

Chaos Busters poses 160 KEY BUSINESS QUESTIONS that offer a business leader a check list of smart business practices – a way of benchmarking how your business strategies compare against other successful businesses.

What we like best about Chaos Busters is that it provides a great discussion guide for using with your management team – provoking discussions about improving how well your business is running – and what type of innovations could enable the business to run better – or to be better able to deal with the current economic conditions.

To read more about how Chaos Busters – The Management Guide can help you improve your business, click on this link

Does Equipment Leasing Make Sense?

According to Fortune Magazine, each year over $100 billion worth of equipment is leased by American businesses. Leasing is “bigger than stocks, bonds, and even commercial mortgages”. The fastest growing method of financing is small business equipment leasing.

Billionaire J. Paul Getty stated that you should “buy what appreciates, lease what depreciates”!

Think of it this way, a family business needs to have as many of their assets as possible working for them at any one time in order to grow and to improve profitability.

With a small business equipment leasing strategy, when you lease, you can preserve cash and still get the equipment which becomes an asset to generate profits. Cash, as a working asset, can be put to use for you in other places that are profitable for the business.

The family business owner preserves cash by leasing because the business can finance 100% of the equipment costs through a lease without having to pay a down payment.

Equipment leasing agreements frequently include all “soft costs” as well which are the additional expenses involved with acquiring the equipment over and above the equipment costs. By including soft costs into your lease payments, you have the benefit of true 100% financing for the costs of shipment, delivery, installation, training and other service charges.

With conventional lenders unable or unwilling to be making loans for businesses to purchase new equipment, equipment leasing makes a great deal of sense.

When a family business considers acquiring new equipment for their business, instead of making a purchase from existing cash or taking a loan from their bank, they should consider a smart financing strategy – equipment leasing.

An equipment leasing agreement is a rental agreement that covers a stated period of time between the lessor (the leasing company) and the lessee (the business acquiring the equipment).

To learn more about the benefits of equipment leasing for your family business

Great Executive Gift For Your Family Business

We recommend PGOO for every family business. We think it is the best book available on Leadership and Organizational Strategy.

Written by our colleague Dr Ken Mackenzie, it makes a great read and can be used as a management guide – one that can be read and discussed by business families as they transition from one generation to the next.

PGOO identifies key leadership practices that shape the success of a family business – leadership practices critical to innovation and change management in a family business.

We think PGOO is especially important in dealing with the uncertainties of our current economy. Those businesses that can react to change, and to do it quickly, will define the success of the business, now and into the future.

To learn more about how PGOO can help your business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Holiday Reunion Game

For most of us, planning is underway for the Holiday Season – a time for family reunions – a time that brings family together.

One of the best features of a family reunion - they provide a fun time to talk and reminisce about the family and the family’s history.

We recently discovered The FAMILYLORE Game... and we really like it!

In many ways, this family trivia game is unique because the more you play The FAMILYLORE Game, the more it becomes customized for every family that owns it.

That's right - every family creates their own unique copy of this family trivia game. There are 20 trivia “categories” of questions – and as the questions are correctly answered, the answer is then written on the back of the question card. In other words, as you play the game a kind of written family history evolves.

A sample trivia question: What was your dad’s first automobile?

In my family, it was the Ford Model A – with a “rumble seat”! I would guess my grandchildren are the only kids in their school who now know about their great-grandfather's auto with a “rumble seat”!

What we found so interesting – it is so funny how every member of the family had just a slightly different memory of a special occasion or a special event where the family was involved!

Order now and have the game available for your Holiday family reunion!

To learn more about this terrific family reunion game, click on the link at the bottom of this BLOG.

Every Family’s Business

What if the question posed to a family business owner is framed as a strategy to protect and maximize family wealth rather than creating a generational family business?

That is the premise of a very interesting book, Every Family's Business written by Dr. Thomas Deans. Deans earned a Ph.D. in finance and economics – also served as president of a multi-national family business for 10 years. Three generations of his family have founded, operated and sold their businesses for a combined value of more than $100 million.

Three generations of the author’s family have elected to involve family in business, to educate children about the “nature” of business and have passed wealth, never an operating business, to the next generation. This “start–and-sell-approach” has shaped Deans’ unique view of family businesses - and inspired his book Every Family's Business.

We think Thomas Deans offers some new and innovative ideas for families in business together – thought provoking ideas about creating and protecting the family’s wealth. All too often family business books promote the idea that perpetuating the family business is the only valid succession plan—that the longer a business remains in family hands, the greater a family’s success. What makes Every Family's Business different is the idea that the “key” to succession is selling the business, if not to family, then to a third party.

Every Family Business reveals the “burden of legacy”, the burden of perpetuating the family business as one of the greatest wealth destroying forces at work in Family businesses all around the world.

But instead of stopping there, the book goes on to offer 12 questions that will lead business owners and their family to build a succession plan that is right for them.

This is an extraordinary book offering a contrarian and powerful message. We highly recommend Every Family’s Business and think that business owners will view the process of succession planning in a completely new way that puts wealth protection and family first.

To read more about Every Family’s Business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

October is Crime Prevention Month

Last week, family business security expert, Harold Copus, appeared on CNN Newsroom anchored by Kyra Phillips. The interview focused on the mortgage mega-mess facing our country.

Copus, a former Special Agent with the FBI, pointed out the need for a comprehensive investigation into the mortgage industry and the involved financial institutions - looking into the misrepresentation of assets, omissions on corporate balance sheets, false filings of financial reports with regulatory agencies and a RICO investigation into the actions of AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

During the past several weeks, the nation’s attention has been focused on the financial corruption on Wall Street and the Washington political finger pointing. But we should not forget that fraud and other kinds of white collar crime can hit family businesses as well.

Copus warns “family businesses are especially vulnerable during the difficult economic times our country is experiencing. What would be viewed as small thefts or fraud in larger organizations, can have a huge negative impact on a family-owned business.”

For example, recently Copus was called in by a family business client who reached a conclusion that someone inside the company must be stealing money – but he was not sure who it was or how they were doing it.

The owner of this family business became suspicious when the credit card company contacted him offering to extend the credit card limit, based on the increase in usage and the payment history.

As the business owner started understanding the magnitude of the problem, he called Atlanta-based Family Business Institute for help.

Copus and his team of investigators quickly isolated the problem in the financial controls system.

A geographic grid was established and a buying pattern emerged. Contacting merchants and asking for their help, the culprit was identified. While making authorized purchases, she would “slip in” an occasional personal purchase.

The investigation revealed that a team leader, given authority to manage and purchase with certain guidelines, found a gap in the internal controls dealing with the use of company credit cards. Instead of reporting the problem to the company owner, the manager used the company credit card for more than $25,000 dollars in personal purchases over a six month period.

An interview was conducted with the manager and a confession was obtained. The trusted manager explained that the company was making money and she felt that she was not getting her "fair share".

Copus was able to get a complete confession as well as full restitution, including investigatory fees. The employee was allowed to resign, signed a letter acknowledging the theft and an agreement was reached for the former employee not to work in the industry for one year.

To learn more about white collar crime and how you can be proactive in protecting your business, click on the link to our web site

Eclipse Celebrates 100 Years

Located in Rockford IL, Eclipse produces burners for industrial heating and drying. Founded by Garnet McKee in 1908, the company has 700 employees and 13 countries.

A third generation family business, the management team includes great-nephews (Doug and Lachlan Perks and great-niece Wendy Parks Fisher.

The centennial celebration was 10 years in the making!

Lachlan Perks, president and COO said the company has focused on three main goals:

To ensure a viable, long-term successful company;

To continuously explore what the company can do for the community, the environment and the industry;

To create value for its employees.

“We’re fortunate as a family business that we can do those things,” Perks said. “The traditional corporation has to focus more on the return to shareholders. A family holds business more accountable.”

The statistics that a family business will remain viable for 100 years are not good. Only about 30% of family businesses successfully transition to the second generation and only about 12 % make it to the third generation.

The point here is that to improve the odds for a successful transition from one generation to the next, a family business will need to address issues in both the family and the business. To learn more about succession management, click on our web site

Business Valuations: Can A Company Have More Than One Value?

We are often asked about the dilemma a family business owner faces when considering the value of his/her business. He/she wants the value to be very high as this is a significant portion of his/her retirement and/or estate. Conversely, the owner wants the value to be as low as possible to minimize tax burdens on the family or to transfer a large portion out of the estate.

A qualified appraiser will ask you to specifically state the purpose of the valuation being ordered. This input determines the valuation approach appropriate for your situation. The valuation starts by first determining the Fair Market Value. This represents the value of a 100% controlling interest and the price the owner might expect to realize if he sold the business. There are many planning situations where the value in question represents a minority interest in the business - multiple minority owners, gifting shares etc. Based on the purpose of the valuation and the specific circumstances surrounding the business, the appraiser may further the analysis, applying a discount to reflect lack of control and lack of marketability inherent in the interest being valued. The result is a value lower than the fair market value yet is defensible when used in the right way.

To learn more about a valuation for your family business, click on our web site

Family Business Advisory Board

Establishing an Advisory Board is one of the smartest moves a family business owner can make. A family business advisory board can act as a safety net for the family and the business – especially when the business owner dies or is incapacitated.

Unlike a board of directors, an advisory board does not have any fiduciary responsibilities. Most executives would not serve on a board of directors without being cover by insurance – and that type of insurance is expensive. With a family business advisory board, that expense can be avoided.

There are many symptoms and problems that your family business could be facing. An experienced Board can help relieve tensions and resolve problems like these.

Continuing disagreements between family members

Broken communication between generations

Narrow ways of viewing things

Emotionally charged decision making

Problems attacked without objective perspectives

Distorted assessments of each other’s talents

Loss of commitment to the family and/or business

Questioned motives

Analysis paralysis

To gain a better understanding of how your family business can benefit by having an advisory board, click

Company Picnics – Risky Fun?

Human Resource expert Susan Williams offers good advice about company picnics:

“Yes, it's picnic time. And if management decided to allow liquor at the event, here are some suggestions for minimizing liability to your company.


Think through the ramifications (lawsuits and other hassles) before the event takes place.

Remember, no liquor equals less liability.

Review insurance policies. Be sure that you are aware of coverage and exclusions.

Hold events during the day.

Post a "greeter" to make sure employees don't arrive intoxicated and/or carrying their own liquor into the event.

Keep the focus away from alcohol. This is especially important if you have younger workers. Plan games, entertainment, and other activities.

Serve plenty of nonalcoholic beverages. Don't have ice-cold beer and wine, but nothing else but warm water. Have regular and diet sodas, as well as noncarbonated choices.

Give attendees tickets good for two drinks only. Having an open bar is asking for trouble. And don't give tickets to workers under the legal drinking age.

Hold the event in a venue that employs professional bartenders--or hire them. These professionals can collect the drink tickets, and they know how to portion drinks and how to politely cut off people when they've had too much. Don't let employees pour their own drinks!

Don't be afraid to shut down the bar. Deny attendees any more liquor purchased or supplied by the employer if things are getting rowdy.

Identify designated drivers who won't be drinking. Make sure employees know that they have the option of not driving home. Assure them that they will get a ride back to their vehicle later.

Post gatekeepers for monitoring attendees. In a lawsuit where an employee has hurt himself or herself or others or harassed a colleague, the court is sure to ask if the employee appeared intoxicated. The gatekeeper also can suggest that employees use the designated driver's services or can call a cab.

Review workplace harassment training before the event as necessary”

A family business must remain constantly alert to reduce risk of litigation. Learn more about risk management.

Making Innovation a Family Business Priority

When we engage a new family business client, our first step is to perform a Family Business Assessment. This is an opportunity to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a family and their business.

When we test new clients for their views and objectives, we frequently get the response “We never see any good new ideas”.

Yet as we interview key members of the management team, we find many good ideas that could/would improve the growth of the business, improve the competitiveness of the business – and yes, improve the profitability of the business.

Why this disconnect?

Many middle mangers screen new ideas from the family business owner for fear of “rocking the boat”. They fear the family business owner will reject anything that does not fit the current business model of the family’s business. These “protective assumptions” can hurt, even devastate, a family business.

Innovation is a critical process for every family business – be it a generational family business or a new start-up.

With generational family businesses, part of the succession management process should include a top to bottom review of all policies and practices of the family and the business. Succession time is a good time to clean house and update – to introduce new strategies and new technologies - and a new generation of leadership.

For newer family businesses, those family businesses lacking a well established track record or tradition, Innovation is something than can be done as the business morphs from being a start-up to one that is becoming more successful. These types of family businesses should concern themselves about building the infra-structure needed to support and sustain the profitable growth of the family business.

To learn more about how you can use an Innovation Program to help manage growth and profits for your family business, click on the link to our web site

Web Site or Web Business?

Ken Evoy is the genius behind Solo Build It (SBI). We think SBI is the best program available to develop a web site AND to create a web-based business.

SBI is inexpensive and easy to use. Most importantly, it offers a “one stop shop” that can meet all of your needs. In stead of having to cobble together different programs to accommodate different functions, SBI does it all.

One of the strategy questions posed by Evoy, “Why build a web site when it is just as easy to build a web business”? If you start considering your web site as a profit center for your family business, you are more likely to develop a more successful web site – something so much more than just creating an electronic brochure.

Another Evoy observation is that great content trumps all of the flashy bells and whistles some web site builders think will generate high search engine rankings and a lot of visitor traffic. Building on good content and understanding how to optimize your site for the search engines makes a world of difference in being “found” amongst all of the other like-sounding competitors on the Internet. For example, if your family business makes baby carriages and you Google the term “baby carriages”, your web site objective should be the number one slot – or at least on the first page of the search results. If that is not happening, don’t expect your web site to generate any business.

What is important to understand, so many family businesses are niche market experts. The successful business practices and experience gained over the years can quickly be purposed as content for their web site/business. It is a natural fit – an opportunity to be developed as a marketing platform for their business, products and services.

To gain a better understanding of how e-commerce can help your family business develop new revenue streams and to increase revenues, we offer 11 Tips That Help Your Web Site Sell. While there, you can download a complimentary e-book on developing a web business, just click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Business Valuations: How Long Should It Take To Value A Business?

The length of time required to complete a business valuation is highly dependent on the level of cooperation and open communication between the business owner and appraiser.

The longest part of the process is often the initial information gathering stage. The valuation cannot begin until the owner provides all necessary documents and company information. The owner, or designated point-of-contact, must be available to answer questions, review draft information, participate in discussions and possibly provide additional input during the analysis. Again, timely response to inquiries from your appraiser will keep the project moving and expedite the valuation.

Given the prompt attention from both parties (owner and appraiser), a typical valuation can be completed in about 8 weeks.

If this timeframe does not meet your needs (as is often the case when the owner receives an offer to purchase), ask your appraiser if they offer an expedited service. If you opt for an expedited service, expect to pay a premium, have all necessary document compiled and ensure the owner is readily available for inquiry and feedback. In this case you may obtain a valuation in as little as three weeks.

To learn how business valuations can help you grow your family’s business and increase shareholder value, click on the link to our web site

Family Feud - Link Snacks v Jay Link

Regan Kohler, a reporter with the Washburn County Register in Shell Lake, WI, provides an update on the Link Snacks family feud.

After chief executive John E. “Jack” Link fired his older son in mid-2005, Jay allegedly disrupted supplier agreements with International Food Co. and Brazil-based Friboi, a meat company.

The company, based in Minong Wisconsin, put University of Wisconsin marketing professor John R. Nevin on the witness stand on Monday, June 16. Nevin heads two nationally recognized research centers at the UW-Madison campus, the Grainger Center for Supply Chain Management and Center for Brand and Product Management.

Nevin estimated the damage to Link Snacks’ supply relationship with International Food at more than $5 million; and with Friboi at more than $25 million damage - damage to the company from alleged interference in its supplier relationships by a family member-shareholder after his termination as a senior executive. Appraisals by the company in 2006 set the value of Link Snacks and other family business assets at about $450 million, a figure the defense has disputed.

Jay Link is the defendant and counterclaim plaintiff in Link Snacks Inc. v. Jay Link, a family legal battle for control of the company, which is one of the largest U.S. manufacturers and distributors of beef jerky products.

In the jury trial that began May 27, Link Snacks, Jack and his younger son Troy Link — also a senior executive and shareholder — are attempting to enforce a buy-sell agreement that Jay signed in 1995. Jay continued as a shareholder after his termination, and his father and younger brother argue he violated his fiduciary duty to do no harm to the company. Jay counters their only offer for his one-third interest in the business — $34.6 million — was grossly inadequate.

He maintains it prevented his exit as an owner following his termination as he was building his own competing firm, also based in Minong, Wisconsin, Jerky Snack Brands. Jay is seeking $150 million less his share of the company’s debt. He’s also asked that a settlement include his right to buy out his brother and father if they do not fulfill terms of a court-ordered purchase.

The 12-member jury also viewed video depositions this week by investment bankers who dealt with Jay after he left Link Snacks. Those bankers described the transactions in which they participated with Jay Link and other meat companies that he sought to buy as he built his own company. One said he did not know Link Snacks and Jay Link had become separate entities; another said he understood the possibility that Jay would compete with Link Snacks.

Want to fix or avoid problems in your family business? Family Business Experts offers hundreds of great tips, proven strategies and solutions to improve your family-owned business. Learn how to grow your family business and maintain healthy family relationships by clicking to our web site

10 Signs of a Dysfunctional Workplace

Do you ever have the feeling you are working in a “mission impossible” job environment? HR expert Susan Williams suggests you could be working in a dysfunctional workplace if…

1. Nothing can get done without the boss's approval. Empower your organization by delegating. There's not much CEO work going on if the boss has to sign off on every little thing. And there's a corollary... 1a. To get things done, you have to hide them from the boss. Now you know you've got a situation that is going to end badly.

2. Who is the boss? The structure may be clear on paper, but no one knows who really makes the decisions. Everybody benefits from clarifying decision-making responsibilities.

3. Do-nothing meetings. If a meeting has no agenda or just rehashes previous discussions, axe it. And again, a corollary:

3a. IMing during meetings. Meetings are for brainstorming and discussing, not snarky IM conversations. "Pull the plug" on cell phones.

4. Cubicle co-workers IM instead of talking. Some topics require face-to-face discussion. Arrange some meetings (but don't forget rule number 3.)

5. There's more than one "secret couple" around. They usually don't stay secret for long, and tension and drama (and lawsuits) result if there is perceived favoritism. Write a policy and enforce it.

6. IT rules are so tight that you're not told your own password. Tech security is important, but there are limits. Find a reasonable middle ground.

7. There's a "wall of shame" where employee mess-ups are posted and highlighted for the entire world to see. Rewards should be public, but chastisement should be private.

8. The boss screams at staffers, for example, when there's skim milk instead of half-and-half for the coffee. Authority should never be used to bully or intimidate. Counsel or call in the consultants.

9. Everyone has 10 weeks of accumulated vacation because no one can take a day off. People are not machines. Encourage them to take vacations, or they are likely to walk out one day and not come back.

10. What matters is not what you get done, but how many hours you are seen working. Don't be impressed by the person who arrives early and leaves late just for show. Reward productivity, not hours.

When trying to identify and sort out why your organization is dysfunctional, consider doing a SWOT Analysis. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is simple to do, requires no special training and SWOT is a highly effective management tool. It can be done by an individual or by a work team.

To learn more about SWOT Analysis, click on the link

SHRM Survey – Employers Add Benefits to Help Employees with Rising Gas Costs

More employers are offering telecommuting, flexible schedules, and other benefits to help employees offset the costs of rising gas prices, but few employers are increasing pay to help employees, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management.

The survey found that only 2 percent of respondents said they offered a cost of living raise prompted by gas prices, or stipends to employees with long commutes.

Instead, employers are offering new benefits, and more employees are taking advantage of benefits they already had. The survey found that the most common tactic (42 percent, up from 13 percent in 2007) by employers was to raise the mileage reimbursement to the IRS maximum.

Other benefits include offering a flexible work schedule (26 percent), telecommuting (18 percent), public transportation discounts (14 percent), and rewarding employee performance with a gas card (14 percent).

"Rising gas prices are cutting into everyone's personal budgets, so employees are taking a closer look at benefits such as compressed work weeks and public transportation discounts to reduce their costs," said Susan R. Meisinger, president and CEO of SHRM. "In addition, employers are offering extra help as a tool to retain employees and improve employee morale."

The survey found that 12 percent of employers help employees organize carpools, and 7 percent offer priority parking to employees who carpool. One percent of respondents said they offer a monetary incentive for employees to buy hybrid cars.

The gas crisis helps to underscore the need for family businesses to be able to innovate and understand change management dynamics. Professor Ken Mackenzie, one of the worlds’s leading experts on Leadership and Organizational Strategy suggests that the success of a business in today’s competitive market rests with how quickly an organization can adapt to change.

We think Mackenzie’s book The Practitioner’s Guide to Organizing an Organization (PGOO) is the best book available on Leadership and Organization. To learn how to better organize your organization, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog


The federal government has continued its push to increase enforcement of workplace immigration laws.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Supplemental Proposed Rulemaking on March 24 in an effort to address potential procedural defects in its No-Match regulation.

While the No-Match rule is not yet in effect, DHS demonstrated its resolve to see that the rule is implemented and thereby effectively require employers to follow a specific protocol to resolve Social Security mismatches or face potential liability for "knowingly" employing unauthorized aliens.

The amount of potential employer liability increased as the Department of Justice raised fines for this and other I-9 violations by an average of 25% in a new rule that took effect on March 27.

Risk management is a crucial concern for every family business. A risk assessment could save time and money. To learn more about risk management, check our web site

Hiding in Plain Sight

Many family-owned businesses do not optimize the full potential of their business because they “hide in plain sight”. Often they are businesses that have been around for a long time and fail to understand, to paraphrase Seth Godin, that the “enemy is obscurity”.

Generally speaking, family businesses tend to develop in a niche market. These family business entrepreneurs have experience in management positions and they have degrees and/or experience in engineering, sales or finance. These family business founders share some common traits. They are hard-working, highly-motivated entrepreneurs - people with a vision.

But early on, the strategy for many family business start-ups is to maintain a very low profile – not wanting to draw attention from potential competitors to the business they are developing. These start-up family businesses are operating on a shoe-string budget. The fear is that they could easily have their business concept snatched and exploited by larger-sized firms with deep pockets.

Why do so many family businesses lack a coherent communication strategy? Mostly it is part of the family business start-up mentality that is so ingrained it becomes part of the business model – even when the lack of a strong communication strategy is hurting the growth and profitability of the business.

Based on our experience, we find that in many family businesses, marketing and business development are often bundled together with sales. As for public relations, well, that is service only big businesses can afford.

When family businesses brain storm, an interesting question for discussion is “What is our communication strategy?” When we facilitate a brainstorming session on communication strategies for our family business clients, we generally work on the premise that there are three main channels of business communications - external, internal and cross channel.

External channels of business communication include public relations, marketing, press releases, web-related strategies and publishing books and articles.

Internal channels of business communication include employee newsletters, employee handbooks, management handbooks, human resources forms, pre-employment checks, organizational guides, employee satisfaction surveys, team building, business valuation, project management, and swot analysis.

Cross channel business communication includes web sites, customer relationship management, telecommunications, vision and mission statements, family business history books, corporate governance, family foundations and business plans.

To learn more about the channels of business communication and to help develop a communication strategy for your family business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Reducing Estate Taxes

Only about 30% of family businesses successfully transition to the second generation and only about 12% successfully transition to the third generation of family ownership.

Estate taxes are a major culprit. Families build businesses and then they get clobbered by estate taxes. The federal estate tax rate is 45%!

Financial experts explain that estate tax return audits are more common than tax audits. It is reported that the IRS does an audit review on more than 50% of estate tax returns over $5 million.

For many family business owners, the business represents the major asset in the estate. Two key strategies used to defend against the devastating estate taxes – expertise in financial planning and having a current business valuation done by a competent business valuation expert.

The IRS can and will value the business when an owner dies. If the IRS audit values the business comes in higher than the one claimed by the estate, it exposes the estate not only to higher taxes – but penalties that can range from 20-75%.

In one recent case, the grandson of the founder died. The estate valued his shares in the family business at $47 million. The IRS countered with their audit and the valuation done by the IRS valued the shares at $144 million. The IRS then demanded another $54 million in estate tax and tacked on an $11 million dollar penalty. As part of our succession management process, we urge our family business clients to have their business valued every 2-3 years. The valuation is crucial to smart estate planning. It can also be used as a benchmark for compensation planning for family members and key non-family members of the management team. The business valuation can also be used as part of the strategic planning for the family; to update buy-sell agreements; and to determine the market value of a business that will be bought or sold.

To learn more about using a business valuation as a business building tool, click on our web site

Common Traits of Great Smaller Companies

The Wall Street Journal recently teamed with a nonprofit organization to learn more about the secrets of successful smaller-sized businesses. 15 winning businesses were selected from a pool of 850 small businesses. The winning companies share some common traits:

Clear values and a sense of mission and vision that permeates the culture

Values that extend beyond the workplace and impact the larger society

Honest and transparent communication that creates trust, enhances commitment, and encourages innovation

Extraordinary focus on the customer and on building long-term relationships

Strong sense of community

Long view with a focus on sustainability

An understanding that their competitiveness is tied to the talents and commitment of their workforce

Belief that most of their future leaders are already working for the company

Constant hunt for new ways to improve employee experience

Structure around teamwork, minimizing hierarchy, and maximizing goal achievement

Let employees at all levels make key decisions

Offer generous traditional and untraditional benefits

Create a family-like atmosphere

Share a sizable slice of their profits with employees

The result, according to the Wall Street Journal, is that employees act more like owners, committed to the long-term success of the company.

Successful businesses also share another common trait – they are better at organizing their business and that makes them more efficient, more effective and more profitable. Simply put, there is less chaos!

For business leaders interested in building a better business, we recommend Chaos Busters – A Management Guide. It is a simple guide that poses 160 key business questions – and you determine if that particular question has relevancy to making your business more successful. To learn more about Chaos Busters, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Project Management Tools: Project KickStart versus Microsoft Project

Over the past few years, most businesses have been downsizing – doing more with fewer people.

Project Management is an important process for gathering information, sorting data and coordinating the timely management of resources. How well the management team manages projects, large and small, will determine the overall effectiveness of the business.

For many family businesses, projects that can help systemize the management of the business, projects that can help improve the growth and profitably of the business - often languish on the “back burner” because key managers are spending their time fighting fires, caused by the lack of planning and organization. In other words, the formalizing of the business management practices. Project management tools are extremely helpful in changing this “Catch 22” situation.

In the past few years there have been some major improvements in project management software. The software has become much easier to learn and to master – and they have become more effective tools.

David Jones, our web master and an experienced project manager, conducted a comparison study between two of the more popular project management software programs – Microsoft Project and Project KickStart.

David reached some interesting conclusions in doing the comparative study. To learn more, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog -

Building a Better Billboard & Building a Better Business

Keeler Iron Works is a second generation family-owned business based in Memphis. George and Louise Keeler began the business in 1961 and now the business is owned and managed by their three sons, Clay (President), Rob (VP-Treasurer) and Will (VP-Secretary).

The primary work of the business in the early years was ornamental iron. In the 70’s they started building other kinds of structures such as score boards and billboards. Last year sales were about $12 M and the company has around 50 employees.

The succession process was driven by the financial planning done by George Keeler. Each year shares of the business were given to his sons up until his death in 2000. Will the business pass to a third generation of family owners? According to Rob, it is too soon to tell as the “Nexters” are still small children.

Rob Keeler stressed that the family understands the importance of communications amongst the family. They conduct family business meetings to ensure that all of the family members are kept informed.

Building a consensus in a family owned and managed business is critical to growing the business and maintaining healthy family relationships. For many business families, building and maintaining a consensus amongst the family is given very little thought – consensus is considered to be a given since the family business owners share common business goals and objectives.

However, we find that many family members in business together will differ on whether or not the business is considered a “family first business” or a “business first family”. That difference can dramatically impact the effectiveness of the business in reaching its true potential.

It is important for family members to realize that the strategic planning for the business should be driven by the strategic planning for the family. To gain a better understanding of this concept, click on our web site

Jack Welch Voices Concerns about Family Businesses

Recently Jack Welch was asked to look into his crystal ball when a Business Week reader posed this question – “What are the big concerns confronting business in the next 10 years”?

His first concern was the future of family-run businesses; the second was the dearth of management talent in developing nations; the third concern was corruption in the developing nations – the "payoff culture" that's the norm in too many parts of the developing world.

His two primary concerns about family business is the tension between wealth preservation over wealth accumulation. He suggest that in days gone by, wealth preservation was an okay strategy - but in a global environment, risk taking is required for the family business to grow and to survive.

Secondly, as senior family executives live longer, longevity is becoming more of a factor in succession management. The next generation does not want to wait in the wings until they are in their 50’s before they don the mantle of leadership.

Our experience supports Welch’s crystal ball gazing, certainly as it pertains to family businesses. Over the past 12 years we have been urging our clients to be more focused in their understanding of how a foreign-based business can wreck the future of family business in American by stealing market share through better quality products, better customer service and more attractive pricing.

Our Family Business Innovation Program is a dynamic process designed to help family businesses become future-focused in how they are organized. Successful family businesses need to understand and mandate the changes required to be operating in an evermore competitive business environment, where the pace of doing business is increasing exponentially.

To learn more about our Family Business Innovation Program, click on our web site

“Branding” Impacts Business and Community

This week, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. announced its sale to Mars, Inc.

Chicago-based Wrigley has been a Chicago business icon for 106 years. Sales last year were $5 billion and the company has over 15,000 employees. A publicly traded company since 1923, the current chairman, Bill Wrigley, is the great-grandson of the founder.

In the story announcing the merger, a professor from Northwestern University made an interesting observation. "It doesn't mean Chicago has lost a lot from the job or investment side," said Tim Calkins, a professor at Northwestern who has worked as an image consultant for the city.

"The loss is from the perception side. When you lose a headquarters, especially one as well known as Wrigley, it weakens Chicago's brand."

It caused me to think about how a city’s “branding” or image is defined by the companies that are headquartered in that city. In Atlanta, we have quite a few company headquarters, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific to name a few – and of course the Family Business Institute!

Family-owned businesses create significance in many cities and towns across the country – a symbiotic relationship that benefits both the government and the business.

The opportunities for family businesses to create a successful branding strategy are numerous and do not have to be expensive. One idea is to consider the many other organizational entities that interface with the family’s business. They can be other merchants, banks, customers and vendors that find mutual benefit in forming a strategic partnership dealing with communications. The local Chamber of Commerce is another great communication platform as are other organizations such as Rotary and the American Legion.

Family businesses have a rich tradition in supporting their community through sponsorships in youth sport programs, schools and their churches. The question that needs to be considered is how best to incorporate all of these relationships into a corporate branding strategy.

To learn more about family-owned businesses and how best to develop corporate communication strategies, click on our web site

Business Valuations: Are On-Site Visits Necessary in a Valuation?

One of the most frequently asked questions an appraiser hears is “Will you visit my business?”. The answer is not simple, it depends on several factors. In order to perform an accurate valuation, the appraiser must gain a strong understanding of the business. Much of this knowledge is gained from written documentation and conversation with the business owner and his/her key representatives. In some cases, a site visit is necessary to ensure the appraiser holds a complete understanding. But in many cases, the appraiser has nothing to gain from a site visit.

A site visit does not guarantee an accurate valuation; cooperation between the appraiser and the business owner does. If the purpose of the appraisal is for estate planning, for a buy-sell, to sell the business or for some other non-litigious purpose, then a site visit may be omitted and the cost will be sharply reduced. If litigation is a strong possibility (as in a divorce), then it may be prudent to have the appraiser physically inspects the business’ facilities. Be sure to ask if the cost of your valuation includes a site visit. Travel costs money and valuations that require or include a site visit will typically cost more.

Business valuation is not a “one size fits all” process. Some of the reasons for developing a formal business valuation include strategic planning, compensation programs, tax requirements, determining fair market value, estate planning and succession planning. To learn more about business valuations, click on the link to our web site

Circus City

Ringling Bros Circus was founded in Baraboo Wisconsin in 1884. Located 40 miles northwest of Madison, Baraboo hosts the many visitors that come to enjoy the river rides on the Duck Boats while touring the Wisconsin Dells.

It is not surprising to understand that the Baraboo Tent and Awning company’s early work included repairing circus tents and repairing cushions from river tour boats.

Baraboo Tent & Awning, Inc. started as a one-person shop in 1926 with the main customer being the railroad. Art Thayer would haul an old Singer sewing machine into an empty railroad car filled with torn pads from between the passenger cars, repair them all the way to LaCrosse and finally, jump on the next train back to Baraboo.

In 1976 the Anchor family, consisting of Stacy and Agnes Anchor and their six children and spouses purchased Baraboo Tent & Awning. Clyde Moon, an Anchor spouse, quit his job as an asphalt plant manager to manage the new venture. The growth emphasis was placed on custom work including commercial awnings, industrial sewing, and custom design.

In 1984, Clyde and his wife Carolyn purchased the company from the other members of the Anchor family.

Consolidating ownership in a small-medium sized family business is a crucial strategy to running and growing the business – not to mention reducing the issues that confront a family business at succession time

In the late 70’s, the business was struggling, hard hit by the gas shortages and the credit crunch during Carter’s administration. Seeking help to do a buyout of the relatives, Clyde visited the banks in three counties – his business plan rejected by all of them. They finally were able finance the buyout by mortgaging their farm and a loan from an aunt. Fair value for the inventory and the equipment was determined and the buyout was successfully completed. Family relationships were solid then, and remain so today.

For family businesses with similar banking experiences (banks unwilling to see the entrepreneurs “vision”), Clyde reports the pendulum has swung. Now days, the banks come calling on Clyde and his wife. No need to explain how good that makes the family feel!

The Moon’s son, Andy, came into the business in the mid 90’s – and thanks to the buyout of the relatives in 1984, the transition of the business to the next generation of ownership will be greatly simplified. The important thing to understand is that the foundation for today’s succession strategy for this family business, was laid nearly 25 years ago.

In context, family business succession should be seen as a process, not an event. Creating a successful family business legacy is the result of hard work, sweat and tears. That dream of a family business legacy drives business owners to push on where others give up. Baraboo Tent and Awning is a great example.

To learn more about succession planning and succession planning, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Chaos Busters – A Great Management Tool

Chaos Busters is a very different management guide.

What makes Chaos Busters so different?

This handy management guide simply poses 160 Key Business Questions!

A management guide that contains questions rather than solutions – how different is that in this day of “one minute fixes”!

Chaos Busters has special appeal to Family Business Owners, Senior Executives, Middle Managers and Consultants & Advisors:

Family Business Owners Learning from the past without living there

Senior Executives Green and growing vs. ripe and rotting

Middle Managers Take a personal responsibility for building your self confidence

Consultants & Advisors Talking is sharing but listening is caring

Chaos Busters can be used as a “check list” to help define the strengths and weaknesses of your organization when doing SWOT analysis.

Use questions from Chaos Busters as an aid to better focus and sharpen strategic planning, organizational growth and development.

Use questions from Chaos Busters to improve team building and business innovation programs.

Use questions from Chaos Busters to unlock the potential of your people and your organization.

Use questions from Chaos Busters to better organize your organization.

To learn more about Chaos Busters – The Management Guide, click on

Roofing Contractor Uses Green Technology

Wm. Kramer & Son, Inc. is a fourth generation roofing and sheet metal contractor located in Miamitown, Ohio. In 1907, William Kramer started a roofing and sheet metal business out of his house located in Price Hill. Primarily doing residential work, he walked with a ladder and wheelbarrow to work on various slate, tile, and tin roofs in the area.

Celebrating their centennial in 2007, Kramer & Son was named Family Business of the Year by the University of Cincinnati.

In a story about the firm published in 1927 said “Mr. Kramer has not only the experience of many years to guide him, but he adds to this that painstaking care to see that the smallest item is done right."

Stephen Kramer, current president, states "Through our strong Cincinnati West Side background, we have been taught to handle problems in an honest and straightforward manner, to value our employees and to maintain ethical business practices," Kramer said. "These guiding principles have given us numerous long-term customers and employees."

A large commercial customer noted “We call and they're here. We've always had excellent service and workmanship from Kramer. Steve or (his brother) Bruce are usually involved. It's a plus when you have the company owner working on the project."

Innovation plays a crucial role in family business longevity. Based on our experience, we know that that a Family Business Innovation program will not only help the family business grow, but will also ease the transition from one generation to the next.

At Kramer & Son, “innovation” involves “green” roofs. The roofs can be painted a light color to reflect heat. They can capture rainwater that's then available for landscape irrigation or other uses. And they can be transformed into roof gardens. "The 'green' we're mainly concerned with is actually growing things on top of buildings," Kramer said. "These rooftop gardens help solve drainage problems because water is absorbed into the growing medium, and they insulate buildings and help reduce heat buildup. They can also provide habitat for birds and butterflies."

To learn more about creating a Family Business Innovation Program for your family business, click on our web site

Computer Security Getting Worse

In a story published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, statistics released last week by Symantec, a highly regarded computer security firm, suggests that risk factors to your computer are increasing.

In the second half of 2007, spam grew by 16%. According to the computer security experts, spam makes up 70% to 90% of all e-mail traffic.

The number of computers used for “phishing” web sites QUINTUPLED in the second half of 2007 from the previous year. “Phishing” are techniques/tricks to get Internet users to give up sensitive financial or personal information.

The amount of “malicious code” (computer viruses) has more than QUADRUPLED last year.

Examples of security systems breached by hackers are surfacing almost every week:

WellCare Health Plans reported that the insurance records of 71,000 families were posted on the Net for a few days.

Advanced Auto Parts announced that the financial records of 56,000 customers were tapped into.

MTV Networks said a hacker had gained access to confidential data on 5,000 employees.

ChildNet, a child protection service said a stolen lap top contained personal data from 12,000 applicants.

Mistakes add to the security problem. Texas A&M admitted to “accidentally” posting online the Social Security numbers of 3,000 students.

According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, more than 223 million data records of US citizens have been compromised since 2005.

If you have a breech of security in your family business computer system or your personal computer system, our security experts can help. To learn more about protecting your family business by clicking on this link to our web site

What Is Your Web Site Strategy?

Many family-owned businesses fail to take full advantage of their web site because they do not have a web site strategy. For many family businesses, their web site is nothing more than an electronic brochure – passive and ineffective. For some family businesses, the only reason they give for having a web site is that other businesses have a web site so they figured they needed one too – the “lemming approach” to a web site strategy!

For those who have not engaged the concept of building a “web business”, it might be interesting to know that survey results from the National Retail Federation are projecting a 17% increase in online sales this year. The survey estimates that the online sales of $175 BILLION in 2007 will increase to $204 BILLION in 2008.

The numbers show how people are learning to use the Internet for information, communication and purchasing products and services.

We recommend to our family business clients to aggressively use their web sites to promote and grow their businesses. We feel that almost every family business has a product or service that can be promoted and sold on the Internet. If your products or services do not lend themselves to online sales, at least consider using your web site as a branding mechanism for your family business. The branding strategy can build sales and strategic partnerships.

For some family businesses, the opportunities to grow the business by developing online sales are so great, we feel the person developing the web site resource should be a direct report to the CEO and the web site be managed as a profit center for the business.

To learn more about using a web site to grow your family business, click on our web site,

Right Turns Save Money

Innovation programs are critical to the on-going success of any business.

If your family business operates a truck or delivery fleet, you might find a story interesting about an innovation program at UPS.

According to an engineer at UPS, the company re-designed its delivery routes to minimize the number of left hand turns. The idea was to reduce the amount of time that drivers waited at an intersection. Right hand turns were made more quickly and also reduced the chance for an accident re turning left across oncoming traffic.

According to UPS, changing their delivery routes to make more right hand turns produced some huge savings. UPS estimates that in 2007, the route changes reduced 30 million miles from their delivery system. The reduced mileage saved over 3 million gallons of fuel and reduced their fleet emissions by 32,000 metric tons!

One of the strengths of a family-owned business is that they have a long view - they are working on creating and protecting a legacy for the next generation. Decisions are not made on the need to meet quarterly earnings projections like a public company.

The flip side of that rational is that it is easy for a family business to get in a rut and fail to quickly adapt to changes in the market place and/or changes in technology. Only about 30% of family businesses successfully transition to the second generation and only about 12 % make it to the third generation. Failing to adapt to change is a major contributing factor to the failure of family businesses to transition from one generation to the next.

To learn more about creating an innovation program for your family business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Parenting Adult Children

One of our clients exclaimed that “nothing could be closer to ‘heaven on earth’ when you have your kids in business with you and everything is going well – and nothing is closer to ‘hell on earth’ when you have your kids in the family business and things are going badly.”

When it comes to parenting adult children, our Family Business Expert is Jane Adams, PhD. Dr. Adams is a social psychologist, author of many best selling books and a sought after speaker. She has appeared on many of the top TV news and talk shows, including the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Relationships between parents and their adult children continue to interest baby boomers, and Family Business Expert Dr. Jane Adams brings a special expertise to the topic; she was featured in USA Today on March 25 and will make an appearance on the CBS Morning Show Wednesday April 2 at 7:15 AM.

Dr Adams, a nationally recognized post parenting coach, will be discussing what she calls the new generation gap - "between parents, who came of age in economic good times, and their “20-30 somethings”, who often resent that the privileged life style they feel entitled to is inaccessible without continued financial and emotional support from their elders." According to Dr. Adams, "This resentment even colors their expectations when they join the family business - they often feel advancing in the company is their prerogative, whether or not they are capable, deserving, or willing to work as hard as they must to keep the business going and growing."

As life-stage transitions occur – kids becoming adults - parenting skills often remain static. In a family business, problematic interactions between parent and adult children present risky situations that can be harmful to the business and destroy family relationships. To learn more about avoiding the pitfalls of parenting adult children, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Security Alert – Lock Bumping

Harold Copus, a former Special Agent with the FBI, is our Family Business Security Expert. Harold is a frequent guest commentator on security issues for Fox News Network and his success in finding missing children has been featured on several Dr Phil Shows.

Copus has been warning about a new, low tech security concern for homes and businesses - a special key used for “lock bumping”. Lock bumping is not new – for years it has been used by locksmiths and burglars. But now the special key used in the process is available on the Internet – for just 2-3 dollars. With this bump key, almost any tumbler lock can be “bumped” (opened) in 5 seconds or less.

ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America) has also tried to raise the public awareness to the ease in which bump keys can be obtained on the Internet.

High security locks are much more expensive but offer increased protection against “bumping”. High security locks carry a UL437 rating. Your locks can be checked by your local locksmith. Typically high security cylinders are sold only through locksmiths and manufacturers reps – they are not sold through retail outlets.

If you have a family or business security issue that you would like to discuss with Harold Copus, click on the link at the end of this Blog.

Why Have An Advisory Board?

There are many threats your family business could be facing – and many times these threats are not apparent to the family business owner. Like some types of cancer, they remain asymptomatic until they are discovered – and then it can be too late for any effective remedial action.

An Advisory Board can help relieve tensions and resolve problems

• Continuing disagreements between family members

• Broken communication between generations

• Narrow ways of viewing things

• Emotionally charged decision making

• Problems attacked without objective perspectives

• Distorted assessments of each other’s talents

• Loss of commitment to the family and/or business

• Questioned motives

• Analysis paralysis

A family business doesn't have to be experiencing problems to benefit from an Advisory Board. There are many opportunities an Advisory Board to help the business capitalize upon:

• bring additional depth and breadth to planning for the future

• provide specific assistance in assuring the continued success of company operations

• aid in the selection and development of the next generation of owners and leaders

• help expand and diversify the business

• counsel regarding succession and retirement plans

As a family business grows and becomes more successful, the issues a family business owner must confront become more strategic than tactical. Every family business owner needs to have objective and honest input from people who do not have a self-serving agenda. An Advisory Board is a great forum for debate on corporate policy and procedures, corporate governance and the survivability of the business. An Advisory Board can also be an excellent bridging mechanism between generations – helping to create a balance between the family business owner and his/her successors.

As part of our process for developing an Advisory Board we highly recommend two books:

160 Key Business Questions - can be the basis for conducting a family business SWOT Analysis to improve communication between members of the family and executives in the business ( )

The Practitioner's Guide For Organizing An Organization - we think this is the best book available on Leadership and improving organizational performance ( )

Benefits Are Numerous

• Acquisition of high powered talent and expertise not otherwise available

• Fresh, reality based, objective evaluation of needs, talents and opportunities

• Major assistance in the tough decisions about business and family that need to be made

• Significant strengthening of the business planning process

• Enhanced objective problem solving

• Mature, knowledgeable guidance for better development of a coherent, innovative strategy

• Objective assessment of actual performance of family members and key non-family personnel

Creating an Advisory Board is a major Success Strategy we recommend to our family business clients. An Advisory board can be a wonderful safety net for both the family and the business – especially if the family business owner/manager dies or is disabled.

To learn how your family business can benefit from an Advisory Board, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

23 States Impose Additional Estate Taxes

For many family-owned businesses, the major threat to transitioning from one generation to the next generation of family ownership - estate taxes.

While much of the public debate about estate taxes is focused on the federal estate tax, there are 23 states that impose additional estate taxes, according to a 2008 report by the Connecticut Department of Revenue.

Those states are:

Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.

According to the IRS, the current estate tax law allows for a $2 million, tax-free exemption, and anything over that is subject to a 45% tax. Next year, the exemption will go up to $3.5 million, and on Jan. 1, 2010, there will be no estate taxes imposed until Jan.1, 2011. In 2011, the exemption will be $1 million, and the tax rate will be 55%. After that, Congress will review the estate tax again.

Estate planning, Succession Planning and Succession Management are three crucial strategies for protecting the family business legacy.

To learn more about effective estate planning for your family business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Exemption Killer

Generally, if you dock the pay of exempt workers, you kill their exemption because you are treating them like non-exempts. You could easily owe a few years' worth of overtime, suggests HR expert Susan Williams.

According to Williams, taking of illegal deductions from exempt employee pay can change an employee's status to nonexempt, with the possibility of your owing highly paid workers up to 3 years of back overtime!

But DOL does allow docking in certain circumstances. So here are the situations that do allow an employer to dock an exempt employee's pay.

Full-day absence for personal reasons, other than sickness or disability. For example, if a person is absent for 2 full days to handle personal affairs, the employer could deduct from the salary for 2 full-day absences. However, if the exempt employee is absent for 11/2 days for personal reasons, the employer can deduct only for the 1 full-day absence.

Full day or more for sickness or disability (including work-related accidents) if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide plan, policy, or practice of providing compensation for loss of salary. Employers may also deduct full-day absences if salary replacement benefits are available through state disability insurance or under state workers' compensation laws.

Jury duty or temporary military leave. While an employer cannot make deductions from pay for absence of an exempt employee caused by jury duty, attendance as a witness, or temporary military leave, the employer can offset any amounts received as jury fees, witness fees, or military pay for a particular week against the salary due for that week, without loss of the exemption.

Infractions of major safety rules. Deductions may be made for penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance (for example, smoking in an explosives plant, oil refinery, or coal mine).

Sexual harassment or violence. Deductions may be made for unpaid disciplinary suspensions of a full day or more, imposed in good faith for infractions of workplace conduct rules.

First week/last week. An employer may pay a proportionate part of an employee's full salary for the time actually worked, in the first and last week of employment.

FMLA intermittent leave. An employer is not required to pay full salary for weeks in which an exempt employee takes unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employers may pay a proportionate part of the full salary for time actually worked.

Whether your business is a start-up or a mature family business, one of the most important strategies to insure the success of your family’s business is having an outside advisor – someone who is not connected to the business or the family, but who understands business and family dynamics. You can learn more about having one of our family business experts as a mentor, a coach or as a member of your advisory board by clicking on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Family Business Valuations: The Appraiser - Technician & Educator

Family business appraisers should serve two roles.

First, they must be experts at the craft of appraisal, producing first-rate valuations that meet all the requirements imposed by law and client expectations.

Second, as most family businesses are having their companies valued for the first time, the best appraisers see themselves as educators too. It is not enough simply to provide a number representing a business’ fair market value; the appraiser should make sure the family business owner(s) understands the number, knows where it came from, and believes it to be accurate.

The family business owner is not the only one interested in the outcome of a valuation. Often there are partners, key employees and family members who have a vested interest in knowing the value of the business. As an educator, your appraiser should welcome all interested parties to participate in the process. As an objective third-party, it is often easier to have the appraiser answer questions and ensure those designated by the owner also know where the value came from and believe it to be accurate. In this role, the appraiser can help ensure peaceful relations between all of the interested parties. When choosing an appraiser for your family business, look for a firm that is prepared to play both roles – expert appraiser and educator.

To gain a better understanding of the critical role family business valuations play in succession planning and the succession management process, click on our web site

Making Money & Doing Good

PRESERVE is the brand name of the products produced by Recycline Inc, a maker of eco-friendly consumer products located in Waltham, MA. Founded in 1996, the company produces a line of household products that range from tooth brushes and razors to tableware and kitchen products.

Eric Hudson (45) is the founder and CEO. As an entrepreneur, he wanted to find a better way to use recycled plastics and to be able to connect those products to people who made “green products” part of their product preference and buying habits. His thinking was influenced by the amount of plastic products going into landfills. Plastic takes a long time to degrade and when they do, they can produce toxins that add to our pollution problems.

Why a tooth brush as the first product – every year a billion tooth brushes are put into landfills and every year 2 billion plastic disposable razors go to land fills.

Hudson relied on his family to help launch his business. His dad is an engineer and designed the first tooth brush. His wife worked in operations. Graphic design was done by a cousin. A cousin’s wife was pictured in some of the early marketing materials. His brother facilitated retreats and investors included mom, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles!

Not only is his company making money, they were selected from 1,000 other entrepreneurial businesses in the 2007 “Boost Your Business” contest run by Forbes Magazine. The first place prize - $100,000 dollars!

Starting a business is never easy and often chaotic. While the entrepreneur may start with a good business plan, that plan rarely considers how to order the chaos associated with running any business. Often the chaos consumes a great deal of energy and momentum. Worse yet, the entrepreneur and his/her key managers get bogged down fighting fires – and lose sight of their vision.

Chaos Busters – A Management Guide is a nifty handbook for helping businesses to order the chaos of their business. The handbook has 160 great tips and ideas for helping to professionalize and formalize the management of a business. Whether your family business is a start up or a generational family business, Chaos Busters makes a lot of sense.

To learn more about Chaos Busters, click on

Improving Brainstorming Meetings

Brainstorming meetings are one technique for gathering ideas and input for innovation programs. Traditional brainstorming meetings are open meetings where ideas and concepts are “kicked around” and discussed.

An Australian business coach, M. Russell, reports that “brainwriting” improves traditional brainstorming by 40%.

Instead of talking about ideas and concepts, the participants in the meeting write down their ideas – a technique that is more inclusive because it reduces the fear/risk factor of being embarrassed or ridiculed by others.

The technique is called “Brainwriting 6-3-5”. The 6-3-5 stands for 6 people, 3 ideas per person in 5 minutes.

How it works. Create a form with 3 columns for idea 1, idea 2, and idea 3. Then create 6 rows down the page – one row for each of the six people in the group.

Each person takes a form sheet and takes 5 minutes to write out 3 ideas for solving the problem statement. Then the form is passed around the group and the process is repeated. “Seeing” the ideas that have been written down by others can/will inspire more ideas. After doing this for 30 minutes, the forms will have 108 ideas from each group of 6 people!

Innovation programs are especially crucial to the survival of family-owned businesses. For many family businesses, “being in the groove” can just as easily turn into “being in a rut”. One example is the family doing well in the buggy whip business – an industry that declined with the advent of the automobile. They missed the opportunity for change and growth because they never conceptualized themselves as being in the “transportation business”.

To read more about creating an innovation program for your family business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Commercial Diving – Five Generations Deep

Horace Thompson began his family business as a commercial diver in 1898. The business is based in Duluth MN. His son, John Thomson took over the business.

John had three daughters – and diving to repair ships, docks, and bridges – well; it was not considered something for a woman. His daughter, Marie, loved the work and was a dive tender for her dad. She worked topside to assist him and ensure he received an uninterrupted supply of air.

Marie quickly proved herself a capable and dependable partner, yet she encountered some resistance as a young woman working on the male-dominated Great Lakes waterfront of the 1950s and ’60s.

She recalls when her dad was asked to assess the damage after a vessel hit an ore dock. “We got there, and they asked us to wait. My dad went in and talked to someone, then came back. Each time, I could see him getting angrier and angrier.”

The dock superintendent said women weren’t allowed on the facility. But Marie said her frustrated father finally issued an ultimatum: “If she doesn’t come with me, I don’t work here.” After a series of calls to corporate higher-ups, Marie and her father finally were granted access and got to work.

Marie’s husband Jerry took over the family business and the name of the business was changed to PJ Norick & Sons. The knowledge of this business has been passed on from generation to generation,” Marie Norick said. “My dad learned to dive from his dad. My husband, Jerry, learned from my dad. Our boys learned it from their dad. And now our grandsons are doing the same.” When Jerry retired, son Peter took over the business.

“I get a lot of satisfaction from carrying on our family tradition and helping to keep the business going,” said Zac Norick, Jerry and Marie’s 19-year-old grandson.

Jerry Norick, age 74, finally gave up diving a few years ago. Even though he still feels physically able, he said it was time to step aside. “You’ve got to hang it up at some point. The kids won’t wait forever,” he said.

Family business succession planning and succession management is not easy – it is hard work and can be a minefield of emotionally-charged issues. To learn more about succession planning and succession management, click on our web site

Family Business Succession Planning Survey

The latest family business survey sponsored by Mass Mutual indicated that family businesses are optimistic about 2008. The survey had 1,000 respondents.

About 75% expected increased revenues this year. This is a very important financial indicator as family-owned businesses are the economic foundation of our country.

Succession remains the biggest issue that confronts family businesses – the instability of family and business when business families do not have a succession plan in place when the owner dies or becomes incapacitated.

Other major issues that confront family-owned businesses reported in the survey:

• Labor costs

• Health care costs

• Finding qualified employees

• Foreign competition

• Labor union demands

• Domestic competition

• Oil prices

• Availability of credit from lenders

• Estate taxes

If you are the owner of a family business and preparing to deal with succession, consider taking a few minutes to take our Family Business Succession Planning survey.

Each response is reviewed by a family business succession expert. The survey does not require submitting any financial, personal or confidential information.

To learn more about our Family Business Succession Planning survey, click on our web site

Managing Change for 230 Years

The St. John Milling Co dates to 1778, founded as the Dungan Mill by Jeremiah Dungan in Watauga TN. A grist mill and country store selling farming supplies, it is the oldest continuously operated business in Tennessee.

In 1886, the business was purchased by Dungan’s great nephew George Washington St John and the name of the grist mill was chanced to St John Mill. Early visitors to the business probably included Daniel Boone and Davie Crockett.

"My dad (James St. John) grew up in the mill," George St. John said. "My grandfather died in 1904, and Dad inherited the mill. I’ve grown up in it." The business is now run by his daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Ron Dawson.

And his father-in-law, the man Dawson fondly refers to as Mr. George?

"Mr. George (95) works on the books and does other things around here," Dawson said. "He comes in and works on Tuesdays and Thursdays."

"I’m trying to maintain the heritage of the mill," St. John said. "I’ve had some hard work here, so it means a lot to me. I never did take many trips to the beach or anything." St. John crossed his hands and smiled. "I love my home," he said. "I love my work."

We don’t own the mill," Dawson said. "Our name is on the deed. But it belongs to this community. We are here to serve the community."

For centuries, folks have bought all sorts of feed and seed from St. John Mill. The business he loves so dearly serves people he calls friends as opposed to customers.

After college, St. John came back to the family business and he noticed the need for change. Acceptance of progress and change, he said, has proven essential to the mill’s continued success and survival. "Mr. George told me when I started here that if you don’t change to meet the needs of people, then we won’t last," Dawson said.

"I want to leave the idea that we improved things," St. John said.

Dawson embraces change much as St. John does. For example, he’s wide open to preparing to build a bridge to tourism. Last year, St. John Mill was included on the Quilt Trail, which brought several busloads of tourists to the mill to shop. And they weren’t buying feed and seed.

"We need to have things that women will buy because women spend about 80 percent of a family’s money. So, we sell quilts and jams and jellies. We probably sell more gloves to women than to men.”

To learn more about change strategies for your family-owned business, click on our web site

Poinsettias – The Holiday Plant

Paul Ecke Ranch, a family business based in Encinitas CA, has been the dominant force in poinsettias for more than 85 years.

The poinsettia's yearly cycle of blooming during the winter, near the holiday season, gave Paul Ecke the notion that this would make an ideal official holiday flower. But the question remained: how to promote and market a plant that most people had never heard of or seen - let alone associate it with the holiday season?

In the early years the core business was producing field-grown poinsettia mother plants. These plants were harvested in the spring, and shipped in railroad box cars to greenhouse growers across the country. Paul traveled the country, promoting the plant to greenhouse growers, teaching them what he had learned and encouraging them to market the plant as a holiday flower.

In the early 60’s, Paul Jr took over the business. His major innovation was to move from a field growing operation to a greenhouse operation. He also continued the marketing efforts – using TV as an advertising strategy. Shows such as the Tonight Show used poinsettias as a set decoration during the holiday season. This constant effort paid off as today, poinsettias are as much a part of the holiday season as evergreens and carols. In fact, due to the promotional efforts of the Ecke family, by an Act of Congress, December 12 was set aside as National Poinsettia Day.

Today, Paul Ecke III (P3) is president of the family business. A major innovation has been to take the farm global. He opened greenhouses in Guatemala in 1997 to reduce the ranch's costs. Today the vast majority of the ranch's cuttings are grown in Guatemala. The greenhouses on the Ranch are now used for research breeding. According to Greenhouse Grower magazine, Paul Ecke Ranch provides cuttings for about half the poinsettias sold worldwide and about 70 percent of those produced in the United States.

However, competing in a mature market can be a real challenge. The poinsettia has become a commodity product.

"We have to figure out how to add value to products," Ecke said. "We will continue to look for acquisitions and look for capital. We're not in a growth industry right now, so the No. 1 job is to survive. But the No. 2 job is to try to grow."

Innovation should be a major family business strategy - the key to survival for generational family businesses. To learn more about how your family business can create an Innovation Program, click on our web site

American Dream

26 years ago, Ali Khoja and his wife Yasmeen, immigrants from Pakistan, bought a Dunkin’ Donuts store in Waukegan, IL. Working 17 hours a day, the couple made the store successful. Today, they have 21 stores – 11 in Lake County and 10 in Chicago.

Talking about the store in Waukegan, Khoja said "It has brought us good luck, and our business has been very good," he said. "This is a country of opportunities. It still is. America is the heaven on earth," he added.

Khoja (60) has turned much of the day-to-day operations over to his son Karim (33) and son-in-law Aziz Nathani (29) but still is active in the business as an advisor. "It's in good hands," said Khoja.

Karim graduated from the University of Wisconsin and Nathani graduated from DePaul University. They plan to open 9 new stores in the next two years. Currently they employ more than 350 people.

Typical of many immigrant families, they got into a business where the family could become successful by working hard, together as a family.

Nathani commented that the secret to their success was hard work, long hours and the good fortune to have the right people working for them. "When you take care of your workers, they'll take care of your business," Nathani said.

The next hurdle for this family business is dealing with the successful transition in ownership, from one generation to the next. Succession is not easy – the issues that need to be addressed are not easy. But hard work alone is not enough to make succession process successful, it requires a lot of input from experts such as estate planners, tax advisors and legal expertise.

A proven strategy is to seek out a family business expert who can facilitate the succession process. To learn more about the issues involved in succession, we invite family business owners to complete the Succession Survey on our web site – just click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Going Green

In our work with family-owned businesses, there is evermore evidence of how successful family businesses are embracing new strategies - Going Green.

As part of our family business innovation program, we recommend our family business clients consider Green Strategies as a way of reducing costs, the number one concern of family businesses, according to a recent study.

But Green Strategies are more than just about reducing costs – recognizing their commitment to a Green Philosophy is also becoming a more important part of their marketing and business development message.

Harbor Industries is a third generation family business headquartered in Grand Haven, MI The company was started in 1946 by Henry Parker with 7 employees. It was a fixture manufacturing business - for greeting cards.

Today it is one of the largest fixture manufacturing operations in the country with 400 employees and sales estimated at more than $68 million in sales.

At the end of last year, the business transitioned from the second generation, Ted Parker (70), to the third generation of family - son Tim Parker (36), president and Cindy Parker Euscher (44), executive vice president.

“They've both had a strong interest in the community and the company," said Ted Parker.

Both Tim and Cindy plan to continue the family’s commitment to growth and social consciousness. "I do have some big shoes to fill," Tim said. "There's definitely a strong sense of legacy."

Tim Parker was responsible for a new 300,000 square foot manufacturing facility and helps organize workplace volunteerism.

Parker Euscher has focused on sales and marketing. She has led the company’s Green Strategy to help reduce waste and energy. “We want to be the voice of sustainable business in our industry.”

To learn more about the “art of innovation” – connecting innovation and learning in your family business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

The Urge to Innovate

General Manufacturing is a family business located in Bluffton, Indiana. Paul Reiff (70), president and CEO, had a successful professional career as a senior level executive for large, multi-national businesses. Paul credits his “urge to innovate” as a primary reason his business teams have always been successful.

Then the entrepreneurial bug bit in 1986. After a career building businesses, Paul and his wife decided to opt out of the corporate world and started looking for a business to buy. He found a company that started in 1962 but never grew beyond one employee and three products. The company was established in the 1960s and was the first business to offer portable fluorescent lighting to the automotive aftermarket.

Today, General Manufacturing has more than 60 employees and markets 158 products with 1,500 variations serving the automotive aftermarket and airline industries, military, industrial market and original equipment manufacturing businesses. Reiff’s son Matt is the operations manager, daughter Sarah is the controller and nephew David Reiff III is the national sales director. With 11 grandchildren, the Reiff family has a strong bench!

Reiff earned an engineering degree from Michigan State but spent most of his career in sales and marketing. With his own company, he combined his business building sales and marketing skills with his design skills. One product, the Stubby light revolutionized that product industry. One year after buying the company General Manufacturing designed and built the Stubby light — a fluorescent hand-held work light that set the standard for the industry. “When we introduced that thing, I couldn’t get off the phone,” Reiff said. Today, the company sells thousands of Stubby and Stubby II lights (safTlite). Family values are important to Reiff. “I have insisted with my kids as they come along and as they grow into the business that they maintain a strong relationship with our employees,” he said.

Many of Reiff’s employees are working moms, and he tailors his programs to meet their needs so they can be home when their children get off the bus. He also makes every effort to accommodate employees when school is closed and they have to be home with their children.

“We have very strong loyalty in our employees, but we try very hard to be a family business,” Reiff said. “I go over what I call ‘Reiff’s Rules’ with new employees. I tell them I hope you feel as strongly about your family as I do about mine.” Like many family business owners, Reiff takes great pride in seeing the employees of General Manufacturing as part of his extended family.

Does it all pay off – you bet it does. General Manufacturing, with a local payroll over $1.25 million, has been selected as the Business of the Year for Wells County IN – something that Paul Reiff finds to be a humbling experience.

Innovation is an important part of every successful family business. To learn more about innovation programs for family businesses, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Jiaye Changqing - “Family Enterprise Lasts Forever"

Family-owned businesses are the foundation for the economic success and prosperity of our nation. It is estimated that over 67% of our Gross Domestic Product is derived from family businesses.

Over the past 20 years, an economic revolution has been taking place in China. As China became trading partners with the US, a new class of wealthy Chinese entrepreneurs has been created. For instance, one family business does over $50 million in annual sales selling valves and pumps to the US.

Jiaye Changqing is a week-long university course that teaches values and strategies to the sons and daughters who will be taking over the family business. One graduate of the class is Luo Yu, 31, a graduate of the class who runs his father's factory.

At first, Luo Yu didn't share the family dream. His father started the Cixi Huili Machinery & Electric Co with 30 people in 1988. The company now has 1,100 employees.

"When I graduated from university, I had plenty of my own very good ideas. I was very farsighted," said Luo, now general manager of the company.

Gradually, Luo said, he saw his father's sacrifices and understood the importance of a family business. "Why should we give away what we earn through such backbreaking effort to someone else not in the family and in poverty?" the former Jiaye Changqing student said.

“Blood is thicker than water. Most Chinese hope their legacy will live on through their children's lives and careers. Every entrepreneur dreams this," said Chen Ling, an economics professor.

While the special needs of family-owned businesses are newly discovered in China, that is not the case in the United States.

For more than 40 years, Don Schwerzler has been advising family businesses in the US and abroad. Schwerzler is the founder of the Family Business Institute and an internationally recognized expert in dealing with the unique and complex issues that confront and confuse families in business together.

“When we created our Family Business Experts web site, little did we know how strong the global interest would be in family business dynamics. Now, each month we have visitors to our web site from over a 100 different nations,” said David Jones. Jones is a partner in the Family Business Institute, the editor of the ezine Understanding Family Business and the Family Business Blog. “Complimentary subscriptions to UFB and FBB are available on our web site,” stated Jones.

To read more about the highly successful multi-disciplined approach, pioneered by Schwerzler to deal with complex family business issues, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Keeping New Year Resolutions – Consider Family Business Advisory Board Strategy

Many family business owners and their families get together to celebrate the Holidays. Not “talking shop” at these family get-togethers is a real challenge. During these family times, many families in business together make promises to do a better job in the New Year regarding family relationships and family relationships within the family business.

Some of the most common issues include:

• Continuing disagreements between family members • Broken communication between generations • Narrow ways of viewing things • Emotionally charged decision making • Problems attacked without objective perspectives • Distorted assessments of each other’s talents • Loss of commitment to the family and/or business • Questioned motives • Analysis paralysis

But once the New Year gets started, most family businesses stay in the same rut as before – the issues continue to degrade the working environment and consequently, the family business never reaches it’s true potential.

Creating a Family Business Advisory Board may be the best solution to this problem.

Family Business Expert Don Schwerzler has worked as a family business advisor for over 40 years. Says Schwerzler, “If there were only on strategy I could recommend to a family business, that strategy would be to create a Family Business Advisory Board. The Family Business Advisory Board can be a wonderful safety net for both the family and the business!”

Many Family Business Advisory Boards have only one member from outside of the family and the business. But that one person can be very effective in helping to maintain healthy family relationships while at the same time helping grow the business in size and profitability.

To learn more about creating a Family Business Advisory Board for your family business, click on our web site

Unique Gift For Family Holiday – based on “your” family’s history and trivia

We have found the perfect holiday gift for families celebrating this Holiday Season – be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Eid.

As a pioneer in family business consulting, we understand how important family values are in influencing the decision making process for families in business together. As professional advisors to family-owned businesses, we do not think most business families take enough time to reflect on the history of the family and their business. This family trivia game underscores the importance of family values and traditions.

At this time of year adults and children are bombarded by expensive ad campaigns - toys and gadgets that are touted to be the best or the most popular Holiday gifts.

However, when surveyed about their Holiday memories, most respondents do not remember “things” but remember experiences. Action experiences such as the story telling that goes on at Holiday family reunions, the soldier coming home for the Holidays, baking cookies with grandma, the searching for and decoration of the “perfect tree”, hunting with grandpa, the making of a Holiday meal, remembering and celebrating the sacrifices made by those who came before us, and the Holiday tradition of “giving” that transcends most religions and cultures.

We recommend a family trivia game – a game that is unique. As you play the game, the answers to family trivia questions customize the game for your family’s traditions, culture and memories. As you play and record the answers to questions about your family, you are in fact creating a written record of your family’s history!

This family trivia game can be a wonderful way of introducing young people to our family memories and traditions – a celebration of our family’s values.

To learn more about this family trivia game and how to order this unique gift on-line, click on this link to our web site

Goat Meat – A Family Business Niche Market

Charles Seugling founded the Seugling Meat Packing Company in 1917. A third generation family business, grandsons and brothers Charles (57) and Robert (54) Seugling are partners in this slaughterhouse operation located in Pequannock, New Jersey.

Many family businesses have a niche market and for Seugling Meat Packing, it is goat meat.

Charles said sales would be record setting this year due to the confluence of Christmas and the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice (Eid al Adha) that is observed December 19 – just a few days before Christmas. This happens every 30 years or so.

EMA in Whippany NJ is another family slaughterhouse business that was started in 1989 by Ali Kucukkarca, an immigrant from Turkey. His son Edibey, facilities manager said they are processing about 2,000 head per week – four times the normal rate.

But there is more to this market – one that reflects the immigration influx into this country. For instance, in New Jersey, the Muslim population has quadrupled in the past 20 years. There are also large numbers of Greeks, Italians, Jamaicans and Hispanics. "You've got an Asian market, a Greek market, an Indian market. You've got quite an audience of people who have come to this country and want the meat they've grown up with." said an official of the state Agriculture Department.

In the United States, sales of goat meat has increased by 31% over the past 10 years. However, goat meat is still a much smaller market than beef and pork and chickens. That is one reason the goat slaughterhouses are primarily family-owned businesses.

Immigration, legal and illegal, trends are accelerating rapidly. Family-owned business should be considering how the changes in national demographics factor into their strategic planning.

To learn more about Change Management, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.


On November 7, 2007, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the issuance of a revised version of Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers are required to use Form I-9 to verify the identity and work eligibility of all new employees hired to work in the U.S. after November 6, 1986 (including U.S. citizens), and to retain the completed I-9 forms for three years after the employee's date of hire or one year after the date that employment is terminated, whichever is later.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA) reduced the number of documents which may be used to satisfy the work authorization and identity requirements of the I-9. This provision, however, did not take effect until regulations were published, so for 11 years the proposed changes have been on indefinite hold.

USCIS has indicated that employers should use the new Form I-9 starting immediately, although the USCIS will afford a period of time to transition to the new form. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)will not apply fines and penalties for use of a prior edition of the Form I-9 until 30 days after notice is published in the Federal Register.

A copy of the new Form I-9 can be found at and the new Handbook can be found at The new Handbook contains updated examples of completed I-9s and updated, color copies of various acceptable documents.

To learn more about human resource issues and strategies for your family business, click on our web site


Most everyone agrees that “change” is happening at a faster rate than ever before. At one time, doing a job description was something done once, and then forgotten about.

Not any more. “Jobs” are more fluid than ever before. Are your job descriptions current?

Here are some tips about job descriptions from our family business human resource experts.

1. Writing a job description that describes the incumbent, not the job. It's easy to think about the individual in the job, and write about how he or she has chosen to do the work. A good job description focuses purely on job expectations and outcomes, not how the job is handled by the person who happens to be in it.

2. Using vague wording. It is tempting to rocket through writing job descriptions by inserting vague language like "takes care of employment." Does that mean routine recordkeeping, labor negotiations, or executive recruiting? Does that entail responsibility for employment or just participation in the process? Spell it out.

3. Glossing over essential vs. nonessential functions. With the advent of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it became "essential" to separate essential functions of a job from those less so. This allows persons with disabilities to still be hired if they can carry out those key tasks (sometimes with reasonable accommodation), even if they can't do lesser tasks. Every job-description must make this separation to be ADA-compliant. If your job descriptions are fuzzy about essential functions, things won't go your way in court.

4. Failing to update. Change happens. There aren't many jobs that haven't changed significantly in the past few years. If job descriptions haven't kept up, confusion and legal challenges are headed your way.

5. Writing a job description after the fact. Courts pay little attention to job descriptions written after lawsuits are filed. That's why the time to write them - or update them if needed - is now.

To learn more about the complexities of human resources, click on the link to our web site

Arlington National Cemetery Wreath Project

Morrill Worchester is a family business owner with a big heart and a wonderful vision. In 1992 Worchester donated 5,000 Christmas wreaths to be placed on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery.

Since that first year, the program has continued to expand. In 2006, an organization, Wreaths Across America, was created to carry the program forward. In its first year, Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremonies were held at more than 240 national and state veterans' cemeteries across the country and in Puerto Rico. In addition to sponsored wreaths, 10,000 holiday wreaths for Arlington National Cemetery and 4,000 holiday wreaths for ceremonies in all 50 states plus offshore veteran's cemeteries around the world will be donated by Worcester Wreath Co. in 2007.

A message from Merrill Worcester:

"On behalf of everyone at Worcester Wreath, my wife Karen, our family, and all the people who have made the Arlington Wreath Project their work for so many years, we wish to express our appreciation for the many phone calls, email, and letters of thanks. It provides the inspiration for all of us to renew our commitment to honor the men and women of the armed forces who have served, and those who are currently serving our country. To each, and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we owe unwavering support and a profound debt of gratitude for preserving the way of life we all enjoy here in the United States of America."

To learn more about becoming a sponsor for a great program for honoring our Fallen Heros

No Place Like Home For The Holidays - Tips From Dr Jane Adams

While holidays offer a special opportunity to draw grown kids and their families back to the heart of shared traditions, they can also be emotionally charged occasions. Young adults come home because they want and need to stay connected to us, but often tension and conflict destroy that loving feeling. Before you buy the turkey or the brisket, ask yourself these questions:

. Does your invitation conflict with their obligations to their in-laws or interfere with traditions they want to establish in their own homes?

. Do you think of family holidays as a chance to resolve misunderstandings, discuss what they're doing wrong in the family business, or deal with conflicts with your adult kids?

. Do you refuse their offers to help, insist on doing things the way you always have, or treat them the way you did when they were children?

Q. My kids hate going to their grandparents’ house for holiday dinners because my father goes on and on about taking them into the family business when they finish college.

A. Enlist your mother in the campaign to get your dad to back off. Rehearse with your kids so they have some rejoinders – polite ones, like “I’m really not sure what I want to do yet, but I appreciate the opportunity,” and variations of that, or even non sequitors like “Do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb, Gramps?” which is your cue to back them up by changing the subject.

Q. My kids keep making excuses about why they can't come for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. What's really going on?

A. If it's really too far or they're too busy, offer to meet them halfway and establish new ways to celebrate together. Or suggest an alternative - Christmas dinner with you on Twelfth Night, Thanksgiving on Saturday instead of Thursday, or an invitation to their in-laws to incorporate their family traditions into your celebration.

Q. Every time our kids and their families are together, there's an explosion! They fight with each other, they fight with us, and everyone ends up with heartburn.

A. If every holiday ends in disaster, maybe you're seizing this opportunity to get to the bottom of sensitive or troubling issuers, or ambushing your kids by bringing those problems up on what should be a festive or sacred occasion. Don't just sweep those problems under the rug, but make private time with your kids before or after the holidays to discuss what's going on.

Q. My grown kids don't get along - never have and never will, despite my efforts. Holidays at our house are tense and angry. Should we make them park their animosities at the door or cancel our celebration?

A. Being under the same roof may just set their tempers on edge, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Instead of sticking with your traditional celebration, plan separate occasions with each of your kids - perhaps Christmas Eve with one set, Christmas Day with another.

Religion - A Family Business

When we discuss family-owned business issues, not many people think of religion as a family business – but it can be. In fact, some well known religious leaders are involved in "generational" family businesses – people like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts and Robert Schuller.

Now we read about a news story from New York where a minister and his wife are getting a divorce and the woman is claiming that the minister’s church should be considered as a marital asset.

The wife contends that her husband, the minister, commingled his personal and his church monies and apparently the judge in the case agrees as a financial valuation of the church has been ordered!

The wife said her husband has used the church as his “personal piggy bank”.

The couple has been married for 31 years and $50,000 of their own money was used to start the church. Accordingly, the wife claims a partial interest in the church.

"That church is no different than any other business he might have opened," said the wife's lawyer, Robert Pollack.

The wife further claims that her husband was also running a catering business from the building according to Judge Arthur Diamond.

“Marriages fail - so do family-owned businesses” according to Dr Jane Adams, a family business divorce expert with the Family Business Institute in Atlanta.

“Without a strong family business divorce strategy, the cause and effects of divorce on a family business can be a profound threat to the family and to the business.

Of all the catastrophic events a family business can face, one of the most difficult to deal with is divorce.

Divorce in a family business touches everyone in the family. It can also impact non-family executives working for the family's business. We recommend to our family business clients to think beyond just the legal ramifications of divorce - and to develop a comprehensive family business divorce strategy.”

To learn more about divorce strategies for families in business together, click on our web site

Family Businesses Are Not Immune From White Collar Crime

Harold Copus, Director of Security for Atlanta-based Family Business Institute, addressed “white collar crime” in speeches to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

Harold Copus, a well known former FBI Special Agent and Forensic Accountant, serves as Director of Security for the Family Business Institute in Atlanta.

Copus specializes in complex financial and white collar investigations. He has significant corporate litigation-support experience and is recognized as an expert witness in fraud investigations for the U.S. District Courts in North Carolina and Florida.

He has been interviewed extensively on Fox News, Court TV and featured on several Dr Phil Shows for his success in finding missing children. Harold Copus was invited by President George Bush in 2002 to participate in the White House conference on missing and exploited children.

"When I first heard Harold Copus describe some of his adventures tracking down white collar crime, including the mis-appropriation of procurement funds, I knew he'd be an exciting presenter to purchasing organizations." said Jon Harvill, Career Center Director for the West Georgia affiliate of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and president of Dunhill Search of West Atlanta. Harvill introduced Copus as the key speaker at West Georgia's monthly development meeting and Copus held the groups attention with countless stories and valuable lessons. Harvill also recommended Copus to be the speaker for ISM's Atlanta Affiliate. Following that well received presentation, Lauchlin McKinnon, VP of ISM Atlanta said, "I knew this topic would go over well with members." and thanked Harvill for introducing Copus to them. Harvill observed, "I have heard Harold speak on a number of occasions and welcome opportunities to hear him again because he always has new stories.”

“Dealing with ‘wrong doing’ in a family business can be very complex, especially when the issue involves a member of the family,” said Don Schwerzler, Founder of the Family Business Institute.

Because of Harold’s expertise in dealing with sensitive family business issues, he and his professional team of investigators are generally retained by our family business clients to conduct internal and external investigations that can range from pre-employment checks to drug use in the work place. Other typical investigations include employee theft of merchandise, equipment and other types of company assets through fraudulent accounting practices, or selling confidential information, otherwise known as industrial espionage”.

“A new family business issue that we are preparing for is “kidnapping for ransom”. That is a large industry south of our borders – and with the influx of illegal immigrants, we are anticipating an increase in this kind of crime in our country. We are recommending to our family business clients that they consider security precautions for protecting their children and grandchildren,” said Schwerzler.

Family-owned businesses that are concerned about security issues can read more about using a private investigator by clicking on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Organizations interested in having Harold Copus speak to their group can contact Harold Copus at the Family Business Institute in Atlanta – 770.952.4065.

Family Trivia Game

It seems almost every week there are new revelations about toys imported from China that have harmful levels of lead – something that can harm, even kill children. We recommend a family trivia game that is made in America – a “lead-free” board game!

The game was first invented by Bob McClure. He and his wife Sally were school teachers in California – with small children and too much debt. As Christmas approached, Bob and Sally decided that the family would not buy any presents but instead they would make presents for each other. That was the genesis of the McClure family business headquartered in Chautauqua, New York.

The game is based on family trivia. There are some generic questions that ask questions such as “If each family member was going to have a car named for him/her, what would it be?”

There are an equal number of blank cards so that each family can pose and answer questions about their family. “What was Grandpa Jones first car? Where did Uncle Earl serve when he was awarded the Silver Star while serving in the Unites States Marine Corps? What was Aunt Susan’s favorite bible verse – and why?”

As you play the game, the answers to the family trivia questions are written on the back of the cards so as you play the game you are actually creating a written family history – a very clever idea!

With the Holiday Season around the corner, a time when families get together – this game makes a hit with family members young and old. It is a great gift for the entire family – for holidays, for family reunions – for anytime!

For more information on this family trivia game, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog

Family Business Re-generation

Almost 30 years ago Jim Hankes and his wife Kae started Thrushwood Farms Quality Meats in Galesburg IL.

Currently they operate out of an 8,600 square foot facility but are in the process of increasing the size of the facility by 20% - hoping the addition will be completed by their 30 year anniversary in May 2008.

Helping drive the expansion is their new certification to ship meat and other products to other states – a major innovation for the family’s business.

"It looked like we could have faded into the sunset," he said if his sons had not returned to Galesburg to become part of the operation. "It's like putting a brand new battery into an old car. We never pushed the kids to come back. In fact, we encouraged them to go out in the world and try other things."

Education is an important part of the success of Thrushwood Farms. "We actually have five of us who have our bachelor's degrees and I have my master's degree in meat science," Jim Hankes said. "People don't understand all the science and technology involved in making meat products."

His son Doug graduated from the University of Illinois - a degree in animal science and a specialization in meat and food science technology. When he left home to attend college, coming back to work in the family business was not in his plans. However, he worked as an intern for a large international business and that experience helped him to realize that he could have a more fulfilling career working with his dad, mom and brothers.

"I was totally ready to work for a big company," he said. "I found out there were a lot of opportunities in the food business, but you do one or two things every day." "I decided I was looking forward to the opportunity," he said. "I wanted the opportunity to develop new products."

"I love Galesburg," Doug said. "I knew coming home and working with the family business would offer a lot of benefits, but there are a lot of challenges."

For many family businesses, succession is just about passing the business from one generation to the next – the focus is primarily on “transgenerational” issues. Family businesses, like Thrushwood Farms, that want to grow their family business - include innovation as part of succession management - so that succession becomes a “transformational” opportunity.

Succession time is an opportune time to work on creative changes and new ideas for the family’s business. It helps to regenerate and reinvigorate the family business with the passion that is associated with positive and healthy change.

To learn more about creating an innovation strategy for your family business, click on the link to our web site

Resume Tips

As a family business grows, problems become more sophisticated – therefore the need to recruit more sophisticated managers increases as well. Finding the right person for a key management position in a family business can be crucial to the on-going success of the enterprise. When a family business client asks for help in dealing with recruiting issues, we recommend Jon Harvill, a recruiter with more than 40 years experience.

Jon Harvill and his son JD run Dunhill Professional Search in Atlanta. At a recent family business conference, Jon offered some insights on how to write and/or evaluate a resume:

Other resume readers may have different priorities, but, as a headhunter, I judge a resume by how quickly I can get the information from it that I am seeking. Clearly stated job titles, company affiliations, and bulleted accomplishments work for me. A resume loses credibility the first time I observe an ambiguous statement about a degree received (or possibly not), of a nebulous certification attained, or even unexplained gaps in employment.

The resume has one primary purpose: to lead to getting a job interview! It is a marketing piece, not a personal history or autobiography. The following suggestions may help make it more effective:

• Keep it brief - one or two pages, with sufficiently wide margins.

• Keep it neat. If it is likely to be copied, use plain white bond paper. Check that the copy is free of typographical errors, misspellings, grammatical errors and smudges.

• Be meticulously honest, but accentuate the positives. Highlight pertinent accomplishments, directly related experiences, and academic achievements.

• Omit nearly everything else. (Be sure to include name, address, e-mail address and telephone number.)

• Your "track record" is important. State specifically how you saved time and/or money, or helped the company make money. Use action verbs.

• Reread your resume before sending it out. Let friends or business associates check it with a fresh eye and a less biased perspective.

• Rework it until it is perfect, but not at the expense of delaying action in your job search.

• When possible, tailor your resume for each specific job you are seeking. Include the exact words from the job posting or from what you might know about the job and company.

To learn more about using an executive search firm as a recruiting strategy, click on our web site

Business Valuations: What Factors Are Important In Buy-Sells?

The Tax Court lists several factors for making the buy-sell agreement price binding for Federal estate tax purposes:

1. The price must be fixed or determinable.

2. The agreement must be binding on the parties during life and after death.

3. The buy-sell must have been entered into for bona fide business reasons.

4. The buy-sell must not be a substitute for testamentary disposition.

The courts have occasionally rejected using the price specified in a buy-sell to establish value for estate tax purposes. Reasons for rejection include: the purchase price was not subject to any re-evaluation; the payment terms were too generous (indicating the testamentary nature of the agreement); and the price was not supported by a professional valuation at the time the agreement was created.

The courts are likely to scrutinize the buy-sell if the specified value does not reflect a fair market value for the business entity.

Make sure your buy-sell agreements are backed by a sound valuation and will be acceptable in court.

To learn more about family business valuations, click on our web site

Family Caregivers

Churchill said “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give”.

Elder-care is getting more attention than ever before as the "boomer demographics” impact our lives.

Elder-care is also becoming more of a factor for many families who are in business together where work and personal schedules are already full.

In a story published in AARP Magazine, writer Sheree Crute offers some suggestions for relieving some of the burdens associated with caregivers:

“1. Compromise – Work hard to avoid family fights and resentments if you are a sibling or a relative of the primary caregiver. Don’t let old issues pull you apart. This is a time to stick together.

2. Coordinate – Offer your services if you have skills with insurance forms, Medicare, or legal documents. Try to help prepare a game plan for when an illness becomes more severe or fatal. Adult children often avoid that conversation.

3. Encourage – Help the caregiver find some type of professional support. If he or she is not comfortable with in-person support groups, suggest on-line chat groups. Many organizations have them.

4. Facilitate – Ask somebody who can be objective – a cleric, a social worker – to act as a negotiator in stressful situations where the caregiver may be struggling with the patient, or other family members, or even health care providers.

5. Investigate – Find books, go to web sites, or get in touch with organizations that can help caregivers learn about the illness of the person they are caring for; it will save them time.

6. Organize – Work with the caregiver to make a list of people who can be called upon for different duties, if needed. If time is what is needed, help the caregiver schedule friends (and family) to work shifts.

7. Discuss – Ask the caregiver to tell his or her story or keep a journal. Writing things down can be a release and might help others better understand the caregiver’s needs.

8. Plan – Tell the caregiver about the services you can offer and be specific. Making yourself clear makes it easier for the caregiver to ask for your help.

9. Socialize – Create events for the caregivers, and if possible the person for whom he or she is caring. Include them in community and family activities.”

One helpful and interesting activity is talking and remembering family trivia. If you are interested in learning how to capture the family’s trivia, consider the FamilyLore Game. You can read more about this game that captures family memories, click on our web site

Family Business Ownership Transition

Leppo Equipment was founded by Roy and Stella Leppo in 1945 in Akron, Ohio. Today it remains a family-owned business involved with farm and construction equipment sales, rental and distribution. With 90 employees, they operate out of six Ohio locations.

Roy’s son Dick took over the business when his dad retired – or perhaps better described as semi-retired. Roy rotated between living in AZ and Ohio. When he would return to Ohio, Roy would get back involved in the day to day running of the business.

"My grandfather gave my father a hard time," says Glenn Leppo, president of Leppo Inc "He made it very difficult for my father to manage the business."

When Dick retired, his departure was abrupt, not a protracted separation from the business and that posed some problems for his son Dale. There were serious disputes amongst key managers about the direction of the company.

Being witness to the struggles between their dad and grandfather, brothers Dale Leppo (55) and Glenn Leppo (43) learned some smart lessons about ownership transition in a family business.

Glenn came into the family business in 1993 after earning a masters degree and working as an engineer for a large company. "I proved to myself that I could run this, and that gives you the confidence to take the steps necessary to begin to work out some of the bugs," he says.

Ten years ago the brothers, with the help of outside advisors, drew up a plan for Glenn to become the majority owner in five years - in 2002. Thus the business has a history of 4 transitions of ownership – three were inter-generational and the fourth was intra-generational.

Whether the transition of ownership in a family business is between parent and child or between siblings, having their financial security assured outside of the business is crucial to the handing over the business. They also have to have the confidence that the next generation of ownership will continue to grow and expand the profitability of the business.

For more than 40 years, Don Schwerzler has studied and worked with family businesses. His work as a family business succession manager has given him an unusual perspective of the succession process in family businesses. To read an interview with Schwerzler, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Innovation Is Key Strategy For Family Business

The D’Addario family traces their family’s history in the music string business back to the 1600’s in a village in Italy. An earthquake in 1905 caused Rocco and Charles to immigrate to the US. Their father stayed in Italy making music strings for Rocco and Charles to market and sell in the US.

Today, the family has been making music strings in the US for four generations and D’Addario and Company is the world’s largest manufacture of musical instrument stings and is a leading manufacturer of accessories for fretted, bowed, percussion and woodwind instruments.

The company, headquartered in Farmingdale, NY, manufactures nearly 90% of its products in the US, markets globally and sells its products in the United States through 14 wholesale distributors and 5,400 retail music stores. The export markets are handled by 350 distributors in 110 countries. The company has 900 employees and annual sales are $115 million.

Brothers John and Jim D’Addario have continued to grow the business including drum heads and reeds.

Jim D’Addario, 57, is the CEO of D’Addario and Company and is planning to retire in 5 years. His older brother John is semi-retired. The family’s business legacy will continue as John has 4 children working in the business and Jim has a son and three in-laws active in the business – all between the ages of 30-37.

The company has a rich tradition of innovation. The first technology change occurred after WWII when synthetics replaced animal gut as a raw material and continues today as the company installs “lean manufacturing” techniques and training.

The next new market opportunity is their Planet Waves Cable Station for home theater systems now being sold to major retail chains.

Innovation is crucial for family businesses and their ability to survive generational transition. Moving into new technology, new products, and new markets can be intimidating. But successful family businesses understand innovation strategies.

To learn more about developing an innovation program for your family’s business, click on the link

Family Business Retreat – A Proven Success Strategy

Communication issues, in family-owned businesses, can wreck the business and destroy family relationships.

One of the proven success strategies for maintaining open communications amongst the family, help grow the business and help maintain healthy family relationships is the Family Business Retreat.

Using a family business expert to facilitate the family business retreat makes good sense. Using an experienced family business retreat facilitator can keep the family focused on the issues and help the retreat participants discuss and resolve issues, some of which might be emotionally charged.

Some of the issues that are common topics for family business retreats are estate planning, estate equalization, succession planning, succession management, innovation programs, environmental risk assessment and family foundations.

A family business retreat can be a powerful learning platform – being able to allow the younger generation to better understand how the family business leadership identified threats to the business and the strategies that were used to strengthen and grow the business.

The family business retreat can also be used to re-state and re-affirm the values and the mission for both the family and the business.

To learn more about family business retreats, click on our web site at

Business Valuations: How Important Is "Goodwill"?

Since the days of the pharaohs in ancient Egypt, the concept of business goodwill has played an important role in business valuations. Judicial records of the time noted merchants with locations closest to the city gates sold more goods and consequently their stalls were more valuable. Location is one example of goodwill; others include a good reputation, an established customer base, a profitable history, a reliable workforce, intellectual property, superior processes and methodology, accounts receivable handling, inventory control, etc.

So what effect does goodwill have on the value of a company, and how can it be measured? Quantification of these intangible attributes can have a significant impact on the value of a business. The attributes of goodwill give the company a competitive advantage. A business with components of goodwill experiences increased sales; revenues are higher than if the goodwill didn’t exist. The value of goodwill is calculated as the difference between the appraised value and the book value of the business. In other words, the goodwill is manifested in the net cash flow of the company.

The appraiser identifies goodwill through management questionnaire and discussion, factoring the impact of goodwill into the analysis. The final value determination reflects the company’s goodwill.

Goodwill is not reflected in a business value calculated solely on a multiple of revenues or other financial ratio. If goodwill exists, a calculated value will underestimate the business’ true value.

Business valuation is not a “one size fits all” proposition. Valuations are done for many different reasons and the calculations can vary significantly. Family-owned business valuations are much more complex than other business valuations. To learn more about valuations for a family business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Legendary Customer Service

Gustave A. Larson came to the US alone at the age of 16 from his home in Gothenburg, Sweden in the early 1900s. He started out delivering ice in Chicago and then became a refrigeration mechanic servicing the ammonia systems in ice plants. He saw the need for local parts depots and opened the first store in 1936 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Today, the company headquarters is in Pewaukee, Wisconsin and the company has over 400 employees and distribution centers in 44 locations. Annual sales are estimated between $150-$200 million.

A third generation company, Karl ran the business when his dad Gus retired and serves as chairman. Karl’s two sons Scott and Andrew earned MBAs and worked outside of the family business for several years before joining their dad. Scott is COO and Andrew is CEO. Scott operates out of the company headquarters in Pewaukee and Andrew is based in Boulder, CO.

"It's a great working relationship that all three of us have," said Scott Larson, who came back to the family business in 1998 and is president and chief operating officer. "Dad really lets us make the decisions. We keep him informed and seek his advice. Andrew focuses on sales and marketing, and I focus on operations and finance. It really works out well."

The company’s mission statement: “Contribute to our customer's success by providing legendary customer service and valued business solutions.”

Moving a family business from one generation of leadership and ownership to the next generation does not happen without well considered strategies for both the family and the business. To learn more about succession planning and succession management, click on our web site

Not Just "For Dummies"

John Wiley & Sons started as a printer and publisher of law books in 1807. Today, the company is a 6th generation family business – with the 7th generation already involved in the business. Wiley’s president and CEO William J. Pesce remarked, usually “countries celebrate bicentennials, not companies”.

Some of the early writers published by the company include James Fenimore Cooper, William Cullen Bryant, Henry Dana, Washington Irving, Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorn. Their prominence as an international publishing house started by publishing European writers like Hans Christian Anderson, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

In the 1860s, the company changed course to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities in science and technology publishing that were being created by the Industrial Revolution, thus laying the foundation for Wiley's worldwide reputation in these markets today.

Some of the current high profile brands include the For Dummies series, Webster’s Dictionaries, CliffNotes, the Frommer’s Travel Guides, Betty Crocker and Weight Watcher cookbooks. Branded Wiley Web sites are important revenue streams that augment the core business.

The company has grown by understanding the importance of strategic partnerships and collaborative relationships and smart acquisitions. Most importantly, the company has learned to innovate – to take advantage of new markets and changing technology.

Peter Wiley, current chairman notes “We are a content provider and what the Net offers is opportunity.” The company is a leader in using digital technology and the digital distribution system. Wiley has grown and evolved, taking pride in its ability to meet the changing needs of its customers. The company's current migration to the digital world is the latest example of this kind of transformation.

To learn more about developing Innovation Programs for your family business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Exit Strategy Options: Selling or Succession?

Most family business owners admit that they would like to have their kids take over the business and keep the business in the family. However, studies show that only about 30% of family-owned businesses successfully transition to the second generation, about 12% successfully transition to the third generation and only about 4% make it to the fourth generation. These numbers suggest a significant difference between the “keep it in the family” sentiment, and reality.

A recent study conducted by a leading consulting firm and the London School of Economics reviewed 700 manufacturing firms in the US and in Europe. The study was unable to discern any differences in general performance benchmarks between family managed businesses and non-family businesses, but did uncover two interesting statistics:

The researchers reported that family businesses in the study run by a non-family professional CEO performed on average 12% better than the average family business.

Family businesses run by the eldest son underperformed from the average family business in the study by 10%.

These statistics enable one to understand why family-owned businesses are rich targets for the Merger and Acquisition firms.

Carl Grimes, a family business broker expert with the Family Business Institute in Atlanta has participated in the sales of more than 400 family-owned businesses. “Many family owned and operated businesses have grow to the point at which the family's ability to manage and grow the business is limited by capital and management resources,” suggests Grimes.

“To take the business to the next level and maximize the return on investment for the family, the best strategy for the family might be to sell the business - the best buyer being a larger company with money and management to grow the business,” said Grimes.

“The second generation of family owned and operated businesses may lack the passion for the business that the founders had. That passion and zeal often fades more so in the third generation, making it highly likely that a well established, family owned business can make a very attractive target for buy-out,” notes Grimes.

The Family Business Institute has developed a Family Business Assessment process that forms the basis for exit strategies, succession planning and succession management. It provides a family business owner with “clarity of vision” gained from the objectivity, skills, experience and insights that a family business expert can provide.

Family business owners wrestling with the pros and cons about whether their exit strategy for their business should be “selling or succession” can learn more about the Family Business Assessment process by clicking on our web site

Community Banking

Centier Bank, a family-owned and family managed bank, was started in 1895 by German immigrant Henry Schrage. He had sold some land and the bank was opened with a capital base of $35,000 in Whiting, Indiana.

Michael E. Schrage, the fourth generation of the Schrage family, joined the Bank in 1972 and was named chairman in 1982 upon his father's death. Today the bank has over $1.5 billion in assets and 44 locations.

The Mission Statement for Centier Bank underscores their commitment to the communities they serve.

“Centier is committed to being the bank of choice, continuing a 112-year tradition of remaining family-owned and operated. We are focused on providing World-Class Service experiences and building relationships with families, businesses and communities of the Northern Indiana area through our culture of shared values."

"Our stability as a family bank has allowed me to make a personal "Not For Sale" promise to our communities, clients, and staff,” notes Schrage.

A smart move for family businesses is to include their family's value history and values in their marketing materials - especially on their web site.

It also makes sense for business families to create a mission statement for their family – that can help drive the strategic planning for their business.

You can learn more about creating a family mission statement by clicking on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

From Blacksmith to International Steel Fabrication

Johnson Machine Works is located in Chariton, Iowa. JMW has about 100 hundred employees and has been in business for 100 years.

The company traces its roots to a blacksmith shop operated by David Johnson in 1907.

David Johnson died in 1923 and his son, Russell, a senior in high school, took over the business.

"In 1923, if you wanted to eat, you had to work. He took over the business," notes Lynn Johnson, the father of current president and CEO, Jeff Johnson.

"We realize we're in this for the long haul. We manage this company for the longevity of it," said Jeff Johnson.

Over the past 100 years, the company has been involved in projects like the Grand Coulee Dam and the Glenn Canyon Dam. During WWII they built landing craft. Anti-ram steel walls and poles produced by JMW help protect buildings from terrorist attacks are used by the United Nations building in New York, the United States Embassy in London and the Prudential Building in Tokyo.

The company has always been involved in the community – as noted in the JWM mission statement: Johnson Machine Works is committed to excellence in the business of metal fabrication while enriching the lives of our employees, customers, shareholders, and community.

To underscore this point, Chariton, a rural community of 4,500 people - 3,000 people showed up at an event to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the company!

Developing a mission statement is an important step in how a family business can present themselves to their employees, customers, vendors and to future generations of family management leadership. To learn more about developing a mission statement for your family business, click on our web site

Sexual Harassment Complaints

When harassment or other complaints are filed, you need to do an investigation. Here are some tips, from HR expert Susan Williams, to help do it right.

The note on your desk is handwritten, folded shut, and marked "Confidential." When you open it, here's what it says:

"My two co-workers are hitting on me every day, and when I tell them to stop, they say they know I secretly like it because of how I dress. It's gotten to where I don't even want to come in every morning, much less work. Can you do something???"

Sure you can, but what? Reassign the complainant? Fire the alleged harassers? Call them all in for a heart-to-heart? Close your eyes and hope it all goes away? Such are the dilemmas we face today.

In fact, say HR experts, you need to conduct an investigation. Every story has several sides, and you've just heard one of them. Now you need to hear the others. But investigations are tricky things. Whatever the truth turns out to be, you could be the one sued in the end.

Let's summarize some of the points you need to know:

Do Them - Quickly! Don't hesitate to investigate. In fact, investigations are required, in some states, where safety or sexual harassment is involved. Time elapsed is a factor, so definitely don't delay. Start your probe within 24 to 48 hours. And if not quickly commenced, document the reason for delay.

Choose Your Investigator Wisely. You may work with an internal executive or an outside expert, such as an HR Consultant. Whoever you choose, the person should be neutral in outlook and willing to gather and consider all the evidence and testimony.

Stay on Track. It's easy to stray off the main issues and head off on interesting, but irrelevant or even illegal, paths into the private lives of those involved. Start with a plan, and stay with it. Don't stray beyond areas "required by business necessity.”

Respect Policy. Your investigation should track your existing policies, as expressed in your policy manual, employee handbook, and any employee contracts or agreements.

Document Everything! We recommend against tape recording witness testimony because of the "chilling effect" it may have. Other experts say it's appropriate in some circumstances. Take detailed notes in any case.

Take Action. Once the investigation is concluded, the measures you take should be proportional to the findings, but we suggest meting out the "maximum reasonable" penalty for wrongdoing. This will send a message to your workforce that you take discrimination, harassment, and other violations seriously.

Many family businesses are vulnerable to law suits because they do not have a “formal” HR strategy in place. To learn more about developing employee handbooks, employee training and formalizing company policy & procedures, visit our web site at

The Big B

William Henry Belk started a department store in 1888. Today, this third generation family business management team includes Thomas M. (Tim) Belk, Jr. chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Belk, Inc. H.W. McKay Belk is president and chief merchandising officer of Belk, Inc., and John R. (Johnny) Belk is president and chief operating officer of Belk, Inc.

The company is headquartered in Charlotte NC and is the largest privately held department store company in the country. Annual revenue is $3.68 billion and Belk Inc has over 29,000 employees and 300 stores spread over 16 states.

On their web site you can read an interesting family history - Belk, Inc.-- The Company and the Family That Built It by Howard E. Covington Jr. It describes how a family department store created a business model that enabled it to become a regional giant – and then how that very model then becomes an albatross for corporate governance that could have ruined the company.

Family business histories can be a powerful and compelling strategy for every family business. The material amassed for the family business history can be re-purposed in a number of different ways to help in marketing, promotion and branding.

To learn more about creating a family business history for your family business, click on our web site

Succession Plan Critical

Morse Moving and Storage Company was founded in 1954 by Herb and Vi Morse. They had 11 children and 42 grandchildren – 27 work full time in the business today.

Headquartered in Romulus, Michigan, the company CEO is Dave Morse. He heads up a $15 million company with multiple locations and over 200 employees. The board of directors is made up of Vi Morse and her 11 children.

Joy Morse is the vice president for operations and customer support. “I traveled for a few years after college and worked in newspapers out on the West Coast, but when I came back to Michigan in the mid 70’s, I was given the opportunity to work in the business.” She said her parents encouraged all the children to take part in the business and if they wanted to work in the business after college there would be a place for them.

Dave Morse indicated that an important component in the success of the business was establishing a succession plan that governed the future of the business. Joy played a key role in getting the parents to complete the planning and documentation – and having the succession plan in place prior to Herb passing away.

“That was a painful meeting to have with our parents because you never want to talk about dying – but it is critical,” Dave said. “Now we are looking at the next steps for a third generation ownership.”

Having a large number of family members in the business impacts the leadership and culture of the business. Joy noted “We have so many employees who aren’t related but have been with us so long they truly are extended family. Family in the business sense doesn’t just refer to flesh and blood.”

Having a number of family members in the business can pose a problem in how best to organize the company – how best to take advantage of the family’s culture in the governance of the business.

The Professional Guide for Organizing an Organization is the best book available on culture and leadership. To read more about "Change Management" and about PGOO, visit our site at

Family Business Innovation

Lykins Companies was founded in 1948 in Newtonsville OH by Guy (Bandy) Lykins. A tenant farmer, he re-opened a closed filling station hoping to better support his family.

In 1953, younger brother Don got involved with his older brother.. Showing his entrepreneurial traits early on at age 14 - when he bought his first fuel delivery truck. Mind you, the legal driving age was 16!

Don would slip out of class after lunch – and for the principal and teachers who turned their backs when he slipped out the window – well, they received $3 of gas each week!

From these humble beginnings, the company has grown in size and stature – becoming one of the largest petroleum marketers in Ohio. Headquartered in Milford Ohio, the company employees over 250 people. This month the University of Cincinnati named Lykins Companies “Family Business of the Year for Innovation”.

President Jeff Lykins is a third generation “oil marketer” – his dad Don serves as Chairman.

Jeff observed "The industry is completely different from what it's ever been."

"Thirty years ago, the price of crude changed maybe one-quarter of a cent per year," he said. "Now it changes 30, 40, 50 cents a day."

Over the past 30 years, 150 refineries closed in the US – only one was opened.

The key to the growth of this family business – summed up, according to Jeff Lykins, “adaptability.”

"We have much more flexibility than gas companies. We pick it up at the refinery's gate and deliver it to the station - and we can do that much more efficiently than major gas companies, always have been able to."

Family business innovation is all about adapting new ideas and strategies to enhance the growth and profitability. In a family business, each new generation has an opportunity to build on the legacy of the family’s business.

Recognizing the values of the family is also important – and Lykins Companies does that through the Guy B and Mabel Lykins Scholarship, named for the founders of Lykins. Each year Lykins Companies gives away thousands of dollars to local area high school students in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. The primary criterion in the selection process is that the student must be involved in community service above and beyond what is considered for graduation. This year 10 students received the scholarships.

To learn more about innovation in the family business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

"The Half-Truth High" by Kevin Fleming, Ph.D.

"The Half-Truth High" is the latest book by Kevin Fleming, Ph.D.

In this book, Dr Fleming addresses how we use half-truths to convince ourselves and others that we are doing a good job in running our lives and our businesses.

“Should” versus “Would” – an interesting & powerful dichotomy!

Half-truths plaque family businesses and cause major hurdles at succession time. Dr Fleming’s observations and insights can move a succession strategy from being merely transgenerational to being transformational. A remarkable difference! I recommend this book to families in business together.

Dr Kevin Fleming is the Director of the Family Business Institute's Family Business Innovation Program - the only program of it's kind.

One of the keys to successful innovation in a family business is having a clear and honest understanding of how the business operates - before you can develop a proper innovation strategy to move the family business to the next level.

All too often family businesses rely on memories and individual interpretations of events to make changes – not facts, supported by hard data.

To learn more about how you can develop an innovation program for your family's business, click on

Family Limited Partnerships: Valuation Tips & Guidelines

Family Limited Partnerships can be a smart strategy for many family-owned businesses.

Brad Davidson is the founder of SPARDATA – a business valuation firm that has done more than 27,000 valuations since the early 90’s. Brad offers this advice about Family Limited Partnerships.

A family limited partnership (FLP) can be used to create a powerful strategy for asset protection and for realizing estate tax and income tax benefits.

Because of the potential tax benefits, FLP’s are closely scrutinized. You must be careful to comply with all regulations, including proper valuation.

When filing an estate or gift tax return involving an interest that is a family limited partnership, you must attach a well-documented, current valuation for the asset. The valuation report should apply discounts for lack of control and lack of marketability.

The level of discount applied depends on the unique facts and circumstances of he FLP, such as the age of the creator, assets held by the trust, and dividends and distributions paid.

If such factors are not explicitly taken into account, the IRS may, at its discretion, declare the discounts generic and question the value basis of the FLP.

Timeliness is very important. FLP's should be valued when the initial gift is made, and also when its creator dies. Each gift should be accompanied by an appraisal reflecting the value at the time of the gift. Annual gifts translate into annual valuations. In reality, valuations may sometimes be updated every 2nd or 3rd year depending on the circumstances.

The key determining factor is the extent of change in the FLP’s underlying assets. If the assets remain largely unchanged, the previous valuation may still hold true.

For more on FLP guidelines refer to Regs. 20-2031-2(f) and 20-2031-3; Reg. 25.2512.3 for gift tax valuation principles. Court cases have emphasized the need for contemporaneous valuations by an appraiser with experience, training and credentials when filing estate and gift tax returns.

To learn more about how business valuations can be a success strategy for your family’s business, click on our site

Innovation Makes Floors Shine

Samuel Curtis Johnson founded a parquet flooring company in 1886. Today, SC Johnson Company is a 5th generation family business.

CEO Fisk Johnson, PhD, runs a family business with a 121 year history of success. The family’s enterprises are producing more than $11 billion in sales, with operations in 70 countries and distributes product in 110 countries.

The story of their commitment to innovation began with the introduction of Johnson’s Prepared Paste Wax - developed to make the parquet floors shine (Johnson’s Wax). Today, their household products include names like GLADE, OUST, DRAINO, FANTASTIK, PLEDGE, WINDEX, ZIPLOCK, SARAN WRAP and RAID - just to name a few!

With 12,000 employees, the company’s philosophy was articulated by H.F. Johnson in 1927: “The good will of the people is the only enduring thing in any business. It is the sole substance… the rest is shadow.”

In 2007, the company was selected by Fortune Magazine’s “Best top 100 companies to work for” list – the number seven position!

Innovation at S C Johnson permeates every area of the company. The child care center for families making under $60,000 is part of the strategy that produces a low turnover rate.

“As a family company, SC Johnson advocates a culture of mutual respect, fairness, and inclusion,” says CEO Fisk Johnson. “These central values are so critical in developing a workplace that sets the standard for integrity. Being the best place for the best people is one of the top priorities for us not only today but for the next generation.”

To learn more about how Innovation can influence the growth and profitability of your family’s business, click on

Managing Change In A Family Business

Sheldon Smith started an electrical company in 1947 with an investment of $25. Originally located in Largo, FL, the company is now based in Oldsmar.

Today, S&S Electric Company is a third generation family business and last years sales were $28.8 million.

S&S Electric Company employs 160 employees and operates out of a 52,000 square foot warehouse and office facility with satellite operations in Sarasota, Tampa and Fort Meyers.

When Sheldon retired in 1977 his son Vern became the president and now his sons Chris and Shawn are involved in the business.

The services offered by the company have evolved over the years. The first niche market was new construction. The company next started servicing existing home homeowners and then in 1994, they started into the air conditioning business.

Most recently, the company has expanded into the home technology installation business. Two years ago the company was named to CE Pro 100, a listing of the largest home technology installation businesses in the country.

One of the success strategies for any family business is the ability to adapt to changes in the market place and to adapt new technology. Successful long-term family businesses are ever “done” –but always evolving and developing new concepts and strategies.

But it is more than just new ideas and concepts for the business – successful family businesses learn how to “organize their organizations”. The best book available on leadership and organizational change is the Practitioner’s Guide for Organizing an Organization (PGOO) by Professor Ken Mackenzie. You can read more about PGOO by clicking on our web site

Cashing In a Family Business

Central Parking Corporation is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Monroe Carell, Jr., joined his father in the business in 1967. At that time Central Parking had 25 parking lots in Nashville and Atlanta.

Today, Central Parking is the world’s largest operator of parking lots. They have over 3,000 facilities that accounts for 1.4 million parking spaces. Revenue last year was 1.1 billion dollars.

The business was sold last month for $726 million a deal that provided the family with an estimated $347 million.

Carell’s philanthropy is legendary in Nashville and beyond. It is estimated that he has already given away more than $100 million. He has a special concern about helping sick children. "A child is God's best work," he said, "so if I'm fortunate, then I'm going to try to help children."

Carell’s innovation in the business was the change from surface parking lots to operating the parking for office buildings. In 1995 the company went public and in 1999 they acquired their competitor Allright Parking, doubling the size of Central Parking.

With the acquisitions, the strategy of the company shifted to improving and running the business better rather than growing the business. "I've enjoyed the hunt; I've enjoyed the chase," Carell said.

One of the key success factors for businesses that are growing rapidly is how well the organization is organized.

We think the best book on leadership and organization is Professor Mackenzie’s work entitled The Practitioner’s Guide for Organizing an Organization (PGOO). You can read more about PGOO and the organizational assessment tool HALO (based on the leadership principals discussed in PGOO) by clicking on

…A Poem As Lovely As A Tree

Bartlett Tree Experts is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut. The company was founded in 1907 by Francis A. Bartlett and he was succeeded by his son R.A. Bartlett. The third generation CEO is Robert Bartlett, Jr., the founder’s grandson.

Bartlett Tree Experts is the only major tree company that has its own research laboratory – it is located in North Carolina. Bartlett Tree Experts has operations across the US, Canada and the UK.

To celebrate their 100 year anniversary, the company is planting 100 trees across the world in communities where they have operations and included historic sites such as Arlington National Cemetery and the National Arboretum.

“Beautiful trees are a sign of a thriving community,” says Chairman Robert Bartlett Jr. “Trees are living things that help keep our environment healthy and our landscape beautiful, and that philosophy has guided Bartlett Tree Experts for 100 Years.”

Mission and Vision statements are valuable tools in guiding a family business and keeping the company grounded in the values of the family that helped to make the family business successful.

To learn more about how you can develop a Mission and Vision Statement for your family business, click on

Business Valuations: Top Ten Errors

The National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts compiled a list of the ten most common errors found in valuation reports:

1. Failure to define purpose and standard of value.

2. Failure to discuss company background, industry, market, competition and economic environment.

3. Inadequate financial analysis.

4. Mathematical errors.

5. Use of formulas with no explanation.

6. Failure to define earnings.

7. Inconsistent application of discount or capitalization rates.

8. Leaps of faith regarding rates, premia, discounts.

9. Improper use of comparable companies.

10.Failure to disclose information sources.

Valuation of the family business is an important part of the succession management process.

However, there are many different reasons for ordering a valuation, including compensation packages for family and non-family executives, strategic planning benchmarks, risk management, phantom stock and estate equalization.

To learn more about the importance of using business valuation as a tool for building your family’s business, visit our web site at

Family Business Risk Management Planning

Risk management is an essential responsibility for every family business.

Who is responsible for risk management in your family business?

One lawsuit can wreck a family business and ruin the financial security of the family

OSHA and EPA can literally close the doors of a business for non-compliance.

In an Article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle:

“According to the US Department of Labor, 40% of small-medium sized businesses affected by a natural disaster never re-open; 25% of that do fail within 2 years.

With larger firms, the Department of labor found that 83% experience a 20% loss in revenue due to a crisis in any five year period”

As part of the risk management plan for your family business, reviewing the potential problems in protecting your supply-chain can be vital to the survivability of your business. One supply chain expert noted “The question is, can you protect yourself from being affected better than your customers? If you don’t have it and somebody else does, you lose”.

Oreck, the vacuum sweeper manufacturer, was featured in the Family Business Profile section They had a very well thought out disaster plan and were able to execute the plan extremely well. Katrina wiped out their manufacturing facility – yet Oreck was back in business ten days after Katrina. Compare that to FEMA’s performance record in the Gulf region!

The point here is that a family business not only needs to have a risk management plan, they also need to know that they can execute the plan, well and quickly. Just as schools practice fire drills, so to should a family business run threat response exercises – “what do we do when (fill in the blank) happens”?

To learn more about managing the risks of your family business, click on our web site

A Last Minute Save

Keystone Bakery was founded in 1927 by immigrant Costas Croussouloudis in Monessen, Pennsylvania.

In 1959, the bakery was taken over by his son and daughter-in-law, John and Pauline Croussouloudis.

John and Pauline have 4 daughters – but none of the daughters felt they could take over the bakery because of obligations to their own families. At age 75, John and Pauline wanted to retire and enjoy their grandchildren. The selling process was taking longer than they expected so when they were not able to find a buyer for the 80 year old family business, John and Pauline decided to close the business.

The news about the family closing the bakery spread through the community and on the last day, there was an emotional outpouring from the community.

“People were coming in crying. Everyone was very emotional. I did not expect that,” said John.

J.J. Georgagis, a nephew was helping out in the bakery during the last week was also surprised.

"The experience and loyalty and commitment of the bakery employees and the support of customers had a huge impact on me. It's been a family business for some time and it means a lot to me," he said.

"When I saw that outpouring, it made me decide that this a thriving business that needs to stay open." Georgagis and his aunt and uncle worked out an agreement for Georgagis to buy the bakery.

"I discussed it with my wife and family. We really thought it over long and hard and realized this is a great opportunity. It truly is a keystone of the community," said Georgagis.

Georgagis, 37, left his job as a purchasing manager and took time to paint and refurbish the bakery and has reopened the operation. All 35 of the employees will continue on the job. His uncle, John Croussouloudis will continue to help his nephew as a mentor during the transition.

"We plan to offer the same quality and consistency of the products made the same way and I hope to introduce new products as we go along," Mr. Georgagis said.

Having a formal succession plan is critical to every family business. It is never too early to start the succession planning process. To learn more about developing a succession plan for your family business, click on our web site,

Tire Company Transition

Les Schwab Tire Centers was founded in 1952 by Les Schwab in Prineville, Oregon. The company operates one of the largest retreading plants in the country with a 2,000,000 square foot warehouse that supports over 400 stores spread over eight states. With nearly 8,000 employees, the company sales are estimated in excess of $1.6 billion dollars.

What makes this family-business interesting is how the succession plan will work. Les Schwab died last month at age 89. He had two children and each preceded him in death. His widow, Dorothy, and 4 adult grandchildren sit on the board of directors.

Schwab had a policy of promoting from within the company and had a profit sharing program at each store and that helped to create an extraordinary level of customer service – where the staff rushed outside to greet customers on their arrival to the tire center. Employees have been compared to working like “race car pit crews”!

Last December Dick Borgman, a long time employee, took over as CEO.

"Les had very clear principles about how he wanted the business to operate. The best way to ensure continuation of those principles is for the family to retain ownership of the company."

"I plan to continue Les's unrelenting focus on providing world-class customer service through extensive employee training and continued employee profit-sharing programs," said Borgman.

Succession planning is crucial to every family business – whether the plan calls for the transition of the management to the next generation of ownership, for the family to continue running the business using professional non-family managers or if the business will be sold.

To learn more about succession planning and your family’s business, visit our web site

Payroll Perfect

Ahola Corporation was founded in 1967 by Chester and Rheta Ahola in Brecksville, Ohio. The company got its start as an information management service providing keypunch services.

40 years later, the Ahola Corporation is a second generation sibling partnership that includes brothers Jeff, Mark and Scott and sister Marja. The company is the nations 3rd oldest payroll processing company and serves over 3,300 customers in 44 states.

In addition to payroll processing, Ahola Corporation also does tax payments, workers compensation services and also offers clients a seamless link between payroll and retirement plan administration with Principal Financial.

With cutting-edge technology, they process a lot of data and they do it very well. The IRS recognized their company in 1992 for electronically processing over 500,000 documents without any errors!

What makes Ahola Corporation special is their focus on working with family-owned businesses - using an innovative technology called Family Pay.

Payroll confidentiality is important to every family-owned business. Family Pay is a color-coded reporting system. The key to the colored reports is the separation of family and non-family employee information. For instance, yellow checks and reports contain information for only the family employees. Blue checks and reports contain only the information of non-family employees. Green reports offer summary information without disclosing individual employee amounts.

You can learn more about Family Pay on Ahola’s web site

Financial management is critical to every family business, not just to those larger sized family businesses with CFOs and all the trappings. To learn some money saving tips about managing the finances of your business, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Family Dream to Family Nightmare

Links Snacks was started in 1985 by Jack Link in Minong, Wisconsin. However, the Link family business traces the beginning of their business to1880 when Jack’s great grandfather came to Wisconsin and started a slaughter house. That business went bankrupt a hundred years later.

Using the family's beef jerky recipe, Jack built the Jack Link's brand by using a distribution strategy that moved the business from small stores to the large mass retail chains like Wal-Mart. Today, Link Snacks employees more than 1,600 people.

Jack’s succession plan started in 1995 when he transferred partial ownership to his sons Jay (25) and Troy (22). Jack owns 55% of the business, Jay owns 23.5% and Troy owns 21.5%. The buy-sell agreement that both sons signed required them to sell their shares back to the family owners if they left the business.

So far, this is a great family business success story – but that all changed in 2005 when Jay left the business. That is when the dreams of the Link family turned into a nightmare.

The Links are now fighting for ownership of Link Snacks – pitting Jack and his son Troy against son/brother, Jay. The family feud that erupted is now in the court system. The Washburn County clerk of courts said “this case will likely be the biggest the county has ever seen by the time it’s done”.

In the meanwhile, with the filing of claims and counter claims, Jay has started his own meat snack company called Jerky Snack Brands. It is across the road from the headquarters of his dad’s business – “I can see it from my window," Jay said.

When family feuds erupt in a family business, the problems can wreck the business and destroy the family relationships. To learn more about protecting your family and your family’s business from the minefield of problems that can impact a family in business together, click on the link at the bottom of this Blog.

Exit planning - a last minute consideration?

The Florence Lumber Company in Florence AL was established in 1912 – 94 years ago.

Third generation owner of this family business indicated that his two sons are not interested in running the family’s business. Consequently the owner, Uhland Rudd III, is holding a liquidation sale and will retire.

Will a liquidation sale be the “optimum” exit strategy for your family’s business? For more information on exit planning, check our web site – Family Business Experts

Do you have a Blog for your family’s business?

Creating a Blog for your business could become an important platform for expanding the communication strategies for your family’s business.

Experts estimate that there are approximately 40 million Blogs already existing in the “blogosphere” – twice the number from 6 months ago. New Blogs are being created at the astonishing rate of 75,000 per day!

For more information on how to create a Blog for your family’s business, check our web site – Family Business Experts

Nepotism –Is it fair?

“Nepotism – Is it fair?” was the discussion topic this week on Women Aloud, a national talk radio show (Greenstone Media) hosted by Mo Gaffney and Shana Wride. Don Schwerzler, founder of the Family Business Institute, participated in the discussions as their guest expert on nepotism. The discussion covered nepotism in family businesses, politics and show business.

Adam Bellow wrote an excellent book on nepotism entitled In Praise of Nepotism: A Natural History. He is the son of Saul Bellow, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976.

You can read an insightful interview of Adam Bellow by checking on our web site – Family Business Experts.

Another Family Business Katrina Survivor

Shearwater Pottery, located in Ocean Springs MS, was founded in 1928 by Peter Anderson and his two brothers. The business is now a third generation family business.

The principal potters are Peter Anderson’s son Jim Anderson and grandson, Peter Wade Anderson.

The business is located on a 26 acre site and Katrina destroyed 15 out of the 17 buildings on the site. Since Katrina, the family has operated the business out of temporary quarters.

This Saturday, the business is celebrating it’s Grand Reopening in the new and upgraded facilities. Mary Anderson Ashley, business manager for Shearwater Pottery is the daughter of Peter and Pat Anderson. She noted that the reopening coincides with a special family event. “Saturday is not only our grand reopening, but a special family event as well. It is St. Patrick's Day and my mother's birthday," Ashley said. “We invite the public to come out and celebrate this joyful time for our family."

"We have some beautiful new pieces of pottery on sale," Ashley said. "We are very old-fashioned and we don't mass produce. We have wonderful support from locals and tourists and appreciate all the support from them since the storm."

Inviting the public to attend the grand reopening is a great example of creating a public relations event that celebrates both the family and business.

Horseradish – Fresh and Hot

Gold’s Fresh Food Products is a fourth generation family business that was founded in 1932. Literally, a home-based business when it started, Gold’s now have a modern manufacturing facility in Hempstead NY.

The business was started by Hyman and Tillie Gold. Sons Morris, Herb and Manny joined the family business. Today, the principals of the business are brothers Marc and Steven Gold and cousins Neil and Howard Gold.

Gold’s is now recognized as “the world’s number one producer of horseradish products”. Each year over 1,000,000 pounds of horseradish is produced. "Freshness is the key to our success. We have to make sure we have enough, but not too much so it's left over. It must be incredibly fresh, so it's almost made to order. We make it today and ship it to supermarkets tomorrow, all within one day -- still hot and fresh”, said Marc Gold.

Through the years, the company has learned the importance of innovation – from a push cart in Brooklyn to a company that ships products to domestic and international customers.

Re-Build or Cash Out?

Saline County IL is home to DeNeal Building and Supply, a family business founded 40 years ago.

Last November their main building was hit by lightening and burned to the ground. The insurance settlement was $400,000. Co-owners Tom DeNeal and his uncle Glendel DeNeal were confronted with the choice to rebuild the business or cash out.

Glendel has worked in the family business for 37 years and Tom joined the business after finishing college. "I certainly thought long and hard about not reopening, but this is all I've ever known since I graduated college 25 years ago," DeNeal said. "We're going to re-build and try to do an even better job with what we do here."

Tom DeNeal said he appreciates all those who have volunteered to lend assistance in his family's time of need. Help came from throughout the community. One contractor provided DeNeal with a portable construction trailer and the Southeastern Illinois College building trades class offered to help clean up the yard after the fire.

"After a while, we started to build up our inventory again. It helps that we have three other enclosed buildings and other open lumber sheds on three acres of property here," said DeNeal. Saline County Chamber of Commerce Director Lori Cox said the chamber supports the DeNeal family in its effort to reopen the business. "We're always pleased to hear about successful businesses in the community," she said. "We congratulate the DeNeals on the longevity of their business and wish them another successful 40 years."

Risk management is all about evaluating and assessing threats to your family’s business. It is also about developing a contingency plan should a family lose part of all of their family’s business through a natural disaster.

Music Making Money

Martin Guitar Company is the oldest guitar maker in the world. It was started by a German immigrant Christian Frederick Martin Sr in 1833

Most experts agree, the sooner a family-owned business starts thinking and working on a succession plan, the better it is for the family and the business.

The Martin Guitar Company is the oldest guitar maker in the world. It was started by a German immigrant Christian Frederick Martin Sr in 1833.

Martin Guitar Company is a 6th generation family business, and each time “prima genitor” prevailed. In other words, the company was passed down to the oldest son.

Chris Martin IV is 51 and the current CEO. The company is headquartered in Nazareth PA. It employs 650 people and sales are about $100 million per year.

"You can actually pick up a guitar that was made 150 years ago—my great-great-grandfather, who founded the company, made extraordinarily well-made guitars," says Chris.

Chris and his wife have one child – Claire Frances Martin, aged 2 ½.

Claire is already spending time at the office – starting the process of immersion into the culture of the family’s business.

But what happens if she is not interested in running the company? "I'm going to go very gently with her. Someday, she's going to say she doesn't want to come to work. I'm going to respect that. I've done a good job of hiring people [in management positions]. If she decides to be chairman of the board and not CEO, that will be fine with me," he says.

There are many pitfalls that confront a family business in transition from one generation to the next. What is sad, is that many of the succession problems are avoidable by doing a better job of planning and managing the succession process.

Homemade Chocolate Candy

Lucas Homemade Candy was started in 1896 by Greek immigrant Constantine Lucas and his friend, George Tsoukatos, in Haverstraw NY.

For 111 years, the family has been working out of the same store!

Today the business is owned by Nick and Mary Gail Loucas who took over the business from his great uncle in 1969. Nick credits the success of the business to his wife and business partner, Mary Gail.

They have three children who also work at the store, Nick Jr., Jason and Natalie.

Last year Lucas Homemade Candies made and sold over 12,000 pounds of chocolate candy.

Like so many other family business owners, getting into the family business was not something Nick wanted to do. He has a Bachelor degree from Monmouth College and a Masters degree from Seton Hall.

One weekend while in college, Nick came home to find his great-uncle bent over a table trying to make a chocolate rabbit – it was the day before Easter and the store was empty. Nick worked for 10 hours and produced 400 pounds of product – all of which was sold the next day.

It was apparent that the business needed someone younger and with more energy to keep the business going – and Nick decided that he would keep the business going. So the store stayed open and Nick worked as a teacher at North Rockland Farley Middle School.

Nick Jr, who has degrees in mechanical engineering and economics, and the other family members are committed to keeping the family business going. Nick Sr states that “the business has always remained in the family, and it always will.”

While the Haverstraw community is not growing, the web site for the candy business, helps extend their market, including shipping to out of state customers.

Finding Gold In A Sandpit

Florida Rock had an auspicious beginning.

In 1929, Thompson Baker bought a repossessed sandpit from a bank. The sandpit had been owned by his dad in Interlacen FL

In 1932 he merged two competing companies to form Shands and Baker.

In 1942 he left the business to serve in the Marine Corps and returned to the business after WWII.

In 1972, Shands and Baker merged with two other businesses to form Florida Rock and became a public company run by the Baker family.

Last year sales were $1.37 billion

Last week the Baker family announced that the Florida Rock had been sold to Vulcan Materials for $4.6 billion.

The web site Family Business Experts offers hundreds of great tips, proven strategies and solutions to improve your family-owned business.

Widow Saves Family Business

Banks Quarles Plumbing Services was started in 1920 by Banks Quarles in Tuscaloosa AL. His Grandson Rusty died in 2002 leaving a widow, Paula, who had no knowledge of the plumbing business and two sons who were not interested in the business.

At 53, Paula had been a school teacher but felt she needed to keep the family business going. She came in to the business right after the funeral and has been there ever since.

In her early assessment of the business, she felt that many of the long term employees would help her to learn and run the business. Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case.

Some of the employees left, some wanted higher salaries and others threatened to steal customers and to open up a competing business.

Paula said “I felt like I was held hostage in my own business”.

Over time she reduced the staff from 22 to 13 – keeping those employees who shared her vision. She relied on her teaching skills to improve employee relations. She found a great deal of help working with her trade organization – and now she continues to operate a very successful business.

Patrick Hall has been the office manager since 2004. “I’ve never seen anybody care as much about their employees. She works hard, and a lot of people thought she wouldn’t." She comes in at 7:30 a.m. when everybody else gets here. She doesn’t breeze in at 10 and leave at 2."

Paula said “I can see myself doing this five, 10, 15, 20 more years. I don’t think I would have ever let my husband retire, so I don’t feel like I need to retire, either."

“I think Rusty and Banks would be proud," she said.

Not every family business can report the same successful transition when the owner dies or becomes incapacitated.

The lesson to be learned is that succession should not be an event – it should be a process.

Happiness & Ice Cream

Yarnell Ice Cream was founded during the Great Depression.

In 1932 Ray Albert Yarnell borrowed some money from his wife’s family and purchased a bankrupt dairy in Searcy, Arkansas. At that time there were 43 ice cream plants in Arkansas – today only the Yarnell Ice Cream Company has survived.

Ray’s son, Albert, served in WWII and than attended the University of Missouri. Albert entered the family’s business in 1948 and became chairman in 1985. Today Albert is known as the “Patriarch of the country’s ice cream industry.”

“Ice cream makes people happy”, according to Albert – but his leadership skills are what made his company successful and multi-generational.

His son Rogers is now president and his granddaughter Christina serves as treasurer of the company.

Albert was recently honored for his accomplishments by being inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. He was recognized for his innovations in the ice cream industry, his reputation for ethical business practices, integrity and his personal work ethic.

His work ethic was underscored by his remarks at the ceremony. At age 83, Albert said “I am going to keep training people so I can retire”!

Concrete Innovations

Orgain Ready Mix was founded in 1952 in Clarksville TN by John Manning Jr (84).

He attended the 55th birthday celebration along with his son (John III - 57) and grandson John IV - 32) who now are running the company.

When the business was first started, each truck could haul 2 cubic yards of concrete. Today, each truck can carry 11 cubic yards.

Innovation continues to help the company grow – the newest innovation is colored concrete. So now customers can have a driveway that matches the colors of their home.

Manning III says this is the biggest advance in their business' history. "We're pretty excited about it," he says. "It tales concrete from the old gray you think of to any color you want."

We've always been able to grow and adapt. I think that's one of the keys to us lasting as long as we have," Manning III says. "I think we all three get along remarkably well, considering everything. We have our arguments, we have our disagreements, we have our different viewpoints. But we at least listen to each other. We listen to what each other has to say."

We have differences of opinion, but that's what's contributed to the growth — different ideas," Manning III says. "Business attitudes and conditions tend to change throughout the years. The way my dad does business is not the way I do business, and the same with the way my son does business."

Little John "Jack" Manning V (3) plays in the offices at Orgain Ready Mix, under the feet of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

Manning IV, like his father, says there was no pressure for him to join the family business, but it was nice to know that option was available to him. That's how he intends to present Orgain Ready Mix to his son John Manning V — with no pressure.

Bells, Bells and More Bells

McShane Bell Foundry was founded by Henry McShane in Ireland in 1856.

In the early 1930’s, the company was purchased by the Parker family and is now located in Glen Burnie MD.

The company is run by William Parker Jr and his two sons, William III and Ryan. McShane is the only remaining large bell foundry in the United States.

Parker said his bell foundry takes about 3 months to construct a 1,500 pound bell. The largest bell they have produced is the Baltimore’s City Hall and weighs 7,000 pounds.

“We do it the old-fashioned way,” Parker said. The process uses sand and horse manure to act as a binder. The bell rotates as the mixture is applied and then dried with a charcoal fire.

The company won national attention for its contribution to recognizing the victims of 911.

The plan began small - sounding one bell in New York City as a tribute the fallen firefighters and the Rev Mychal Judge, the New York City chaplain who died in the World Trade Center – killed while administering the Last Rites to the victims of the attack.

The Rev. David W. Schlatter, a Wilmington Del., fire chaplain, devised the bell-tolling project on a train home from the wake for Judge, a mentor and fellow Franciscan friar.

The plan called for placing trailer-mounted bells at or near each of the three crash sites and striking each bell once every 10 seconds for each victim at the site, starting at the time of each plane crash.

"We are hoping that friends, relatives, rescue workers, survivors will ring it," Schlatter said.

The bell being restored in Glen Burnie will rest outside St. Francis, where part of west 31st Street will be blocked off for expected crowds. It will toll in a resounding note of B for nearly eight hours for the World Trade Center's estimated 2,823 victims.

Schlatter also is seeking permission to bring a 3,500-pound bell to the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., where 189 people were killed, and ring it about 31 minutes. A 2,800-pound bell will toll for nearly 7-minutes in Shankesville, Pa., for the 44 victims who died in an effort to retake their hijacked plane. Wilmington's Fanciscan Center will toll a 1,700-pound bell for more than 8 1/2 hours for all the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Parker family contacted customers and suppliers for help with the project – a real collaborative effort. Although the public relations angle was never considered as a prime motivator, the project brought national attention to the McShane Bell Foundry.

Wiseway Supply – Doing It Right

Wiseway Supply was founded by “Biz” and Jackie Cain 1972.

Their first location was located in Florence KY. Today they have 5 locations and serve Southwestern Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana. They provide the latest in plumbing, electrical and lighting supplies. Last year sales were $24 Million. In the 35 years they have been in business, they have never had to lay-off an employee.

The business is now run by John Cain (President) and his brother Charles Cain (Senior Vice President).

After college, John started his career with a two year stint at Proctor and Gamble before entering the family business. Along with his responsibilities at Wiseway Supply, he also serves as chairman of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Community involvement is very important to Cain – he claims it is “part of my DNA”!

Most family businesses are very connected to their communities. The connection to the community is an embodiment of the 4 Ps of Marketing (Products, Place, Promotion and Price).

Steel Fabrication Business Going Strong After 118 Years

P Feiner & Sons was founded in 1889.

Philip Feiner was an apprentice steelworker at age 9 in Austria. He immigrated to America seeking a better life and at age 25, started a business – P. Feiner & Sons.

Today P. Feiner & Sons, a steel fabrication business; is a fourth generation family business that spans 118 years. Headquartered in Bogota NJ the business is being run by the founder’s grandson Gerson (77) and his great-grandson, Philip (50).

While the company has been hurt by low-priced foreign competition, they continue to thrive based on a niche strategy of working smaller-sized projects that require quality and customer service that is not matched by the off-shore competition.

To that point, they have many long-term customers. One example is the Jamestown Metal Marine Sales company in Boca Raton FL – they have been a customer for more than 40 years.

Many family businesses are concerned about nepotism but this has not a problem at P. Feiner & Sons. Gerson was already working in the business when he was in high school and but his son Philip worked outside of the business. When he joined the company, Philip worked several years in the factory before taking on management responsibilities. Gerson is the president of the company and Philip is a vice president in sales.

"He didn't start as the boss' son," Gerson said. "Neither did I. We don't believe in that. You have to set an example for the workers."

Tradition and Innovation are Trademarks of Family Businesses

The Mannhard Hardware store was started in 1921 by Paul Mannhard as a harness shop in Trenton, Illinois. The store is now managed by granddaughters Diane and Carole Mannhard.

Along side of the antique cash register used by their grandfather is a large screen computer – an interesting example of how tradition and innovation helps to keep the family-owned business competitive as times change. The Mannhard Hardware store also includes an arts and crafts section as well as an attached greenhouse.

For more information on family business, check our web site - Family Business Experts.

BAXA Corporation Top Firm to Work For in Colorado

When we started the Family Business Profile series, the very first company recognized by the Family Business Institute and our Internet organization, Family Business Experts, was BAXA Corporation.

In July, BAXA was recognized by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) as “One of the best 25 companies to work for in Colorado”.

Our congratulations to the Baldwin family for a job well done!

For more information on BAXA and the Family Business Profile series, click on our web site - Family Business Experts.

Limited Hours or 24/7?

“If you can’t make a living farming 10 acres, you do five” was the sage advice offered by family business founder Bill Lunsford to his son Jeff Lunsford.

Following that advice, Jeff Lunsford and Gail Britt, co-owners of the Rose Hill Seafood Restaurant in Columbus GA, have operated their restaurant for the past 20 years, 4 days a week, Wed-Sat.

The hours of operation allow them to "focus their resources" – they have one 30 person crew instead of 3 crews that would be needed if they were open 7 days a week.

The hours of operation for any family business should be analyzed as apart of the annual strategic planning process.

Simply stated, don’t accept your current hours of operation as a given. Things change – technology, traffic patterns, neighborhood gentrification, new construction, demographic changes. These changes can affect customers as well as the availability or accessibility to labor resources.

A good tool to use to access the pros and cons of the hours of operation for your family business is called SWOT Analysis – an exercise that can be done with a pencil and a pad of paper!

You can read more about SWOT Analysis and how this simple and effective tool can be used in gaining a better understanding of your business by clicking on our web site: Family Business Experts

Business Valuation - What is Your Business Worth?

Experts predict that over the next two decades, approximately $5 trillion dollars of wealth will be passed from one generation to the next. Much of this wealth is connected to family-owned businesses. Within the current decade, it is estimated that 40% of family-owned businesses will transition to the next generation of family ownership.

Having a clear understanding of how much the family business is worth is one of the first steps in the succession planning process. Business valuation is not a “one size fits all” process. There are many different reasons for valuing a business – succession management just being one of the reasons.

Ordering a valuation of the family’s business is a critical first-step in developing a successful succession plan. One of the most common mistakes made by family business owners is not getting help in searching out the best qualified family business valuation expert to do the valuation of their business. The consequences of having a poorly done business valuation can ruin the family and wreck the business.

To learn more about business valuations, check our web site: Family Business Experts

Getting Along With Adult Children

For the Andretti family, racing is the family business. The first generation was Mario Andretti, the second was Michael Andretti and the third generation is Marco Andretti. Marco, 19, won the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma – the youngest ever to win a major open- wheel race. Marco finished second this year at the Indy 500 – one slot ahead of his dad!

Both his dad and his grandfather were at the Sonoma race. “Being able to bounce things off the two best in the business definitely helps, said Marco. “He was so smart and so patient. He managed his fuel and his tires and he was still fast. Marco drove like a true champion today,” observed Mario Andretti. Spoken like a proud Grandpa!

As a parent and a grandparent, it makes me feel good to hear that kind of respectful commentary between generations in a family business.

Grandparents, parents and adult children do no always have a respectful relationship. To learn more about the dynamics of adult children and parents, visit our web site: Family Business Experts

Corporate Governance and Sibling Partnerships

Burghardt Sporting Goods may be the oldest independent sporting goods store in the United States. Charles Burghardt founded the family business in downtown Milwaukee in 1881. At first it sold books and paper supplies to schools. When schools developed sports programs, Burhghardts added sports equipment to their line of merchandise.

Fourth generation owner, Chip Burghardt (66) is in the process of turning the business over to his three children Kathy (37), Brian (35) and Carl (32).

Sibling partnerships have some unique and interesting challenges that need to be addressed if the partnership is to be successful – especially in the area of corporate governance. One proven strategy is HALO (Holonomic Assessment of the Leadership of an Organization).

To learn more about HALO and corporate governance, check out our web site: Family Business Express

Change Management – Creating Tomorrow’s Success, Today.

Altoona, PA is the home for Sheetz Inc, a leader in the convenience store industry. They operate 326 stores in six states and generated $3.37 billion in sales for the past fiscal year.

CEO Stan Sheetz is busy making his vision for the future of his family business a reality – working on tomorrow’s business model, today.

He is constantly working to improve “and put the Sheetz of today out of business”.

You can read more about change management by checking out our web site: Family Business Experts

HALO – A Tool For Leadership Assessment

One of the tough challenges for a board of directors is dealing with performance and leadership issues when the chief executive is a member of the family that controls the business.

In 2003, Christopher Galvin, grandson of the founder, resigned from Motorola. More recently, William Ford, the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford, has stepped aside.

The Holonomic Assessment of the Leadership of an Organization (HALO) assesses a leadership system's performance and identifies the leadership practices that offer the greatest potential for improving productivity, adaptability, and motivation.

HALO is the perfect tool for boards of directors and C-level executives interested in knowing how best to organize their organization.

For more information on HALO, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Rut or Grave?

One wag opined that there was not a difference between a rut and a grave – except one was longer than the other.

Family-owned businesses can easily move from rut to grave because the owner is so focused on near-term results – improving sales, increasing the customer base, improving customer service – that they loose sight of the end game – their exit strategy.

A university survey of family businesses that indicated more than 60% of the owners had not selected a successor. Moreover, finding a buyer for the business, was not a high priority concern!

Here is an interesting insight from the survey – business owner in the 45-65 age range (family business sellers) are about 24% of population whereas potential business buyers in the 35-45 age range represented only about 15% of the population.

The point being, as the population ages there will be an increasing number of family businesses for sale – chasing fewer and fewer qualified buyers. The net result is that when a family business goes on the sales block, it will be sold for a lot less than the what the business may be worth.

Succession management is the key – grooming a successor to take over the family business and if that is not a viable option, preparing the business for sale so the sales transaction is is maximized for the family business owner.

To learn more about succession management, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Family Business History Book - A Great Marketing Tool

Half Moon Bay is located on the coast of California and where you would find the inn owned by Cameron Parker.

Cameron and his mother Adora have co-authored a book entitled Cameron’s Inn: The Story Behind Cameron’s Inn and Pub. The authors admit that the book was not written to make money, but to be able to talk about his restaurant and the stories behind how a successful business was built – and to promote the community where the business is located.

While this book may never be on the best seller list, it is an excellent example of how a family business can use their family business history as a powerful marketing tool to promote the business.

It is an opportunity that most family business owners overlook – which is indeed unfortunate. The history of the family business can be used to underscore the values of the family and how those values influence the decisions being made in the business. By recognizing the values of the family in the marketing materials, including the web site for the business, it can help the family business gain a competitive advantage in the market place.

To learn more about using the family business history as a promotional tool, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Managing Change Critical To Family Businesses

70 years ago Harry Crisp Sr almost missed an opportunity. The deal was that he had to buy a barrel of syrup from which he could mix and sell a soda. Not having enough money, he went “halfsies” on a barrel of syrup – something called Pepsi.

His grandson, Lee Crisp is now the president of a third generation company that has both large corporate resources yet remains a family-owned business with close ties to the community of Marion IL. The company, Pepsi MidAmerica, now has over 500 employees and serves a 5 state area. Beverage World Magazine has selected Pepsi MidAmerica as the “Bottler of the Year”!

There are few businesses that have changed more than the soft drink business. Starting with soda, the industry now has juices, waters, teas – and many flavors of each. Because of changes in product and technology, plant equipment is replaced/updated frequently – the entire business remains in a state of flux.

Dr. Ken Mackenzie, one of the world’s leading experts on Organizational Theory and Leadership, has a “must read” book for all entrepreneurs called The Practitioner’s Guide for Organizing an Organization (PGOO). One of his observations is that the success of a modern day organization is determined by the organization’s ability to react to change, rapidly.

You can read more about PGOO by checking out our web site: Family Business Experts

Promoting Your Family Business

Jones Dairy Farm is a Wisconsin-based sixth generation family business. Some of the products they produce are breakfast meats like ham and sausage.

Jones Dairy Farm created a great promotional event - recognizing the best family-owned restaurants in America.

President Philip Jones said “family-owned restaurants are meaningful to the hearts of people in the country because they bring unique attributes and traditions”. 139 family-owned restaurants were evaluated.

“The Seaser family was a finalist because of its concept, philosophies and commitment to incorporating family into the restaurant” said Jones. Rayno Seaser and his wife Patty own two The Egg and I restaurants in Fort Collins CO and another in Loveland CO.

The Klopcic family-owned restaurant in Fort Atkinson WI won the grand price. The panel of judges was made up of representatives of Jones Dairy Farm and experts from the Culinary Institute of America.

“Promotion” is one of the 4 Ps of Marketing – and Jones Dairy Farm did not get to be a 6th generation company by ignoring basic marketing concepts!

To learn more about the 4 Ps of marketing, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Making Organizational Culture a Family Business Asset

“You’re not just working for yourself, you're working to honor past generations and the hard work they've done, and you're working for future generations. We've been around for a long time and we want to be around for a long time more," said John A. Evans President of Evans Distribution Systems. He is the fourth generation of this family business based in Melvindale MI.

The business was started by Wellington Evans in 1929 and has grown to over 300 employees with facilities in three states. Sales in 2005 were $29 million.

With 77 years of continuity, the company has a value system that is well defined, not only by the family but recognized by their customers as well. “Working hard, understanding the customer and fulfilling their needs” is part of the organizational culture, according to John Evans. “Good continuity in management makes a difference.”

Said one customer, defining an aspect of the organizational culture at Evans Distribution Systems, “responsiveness - from the president to their clerical staff. They treat us like we’re they’re only customer.”

To learn more about organization culture, check our web site: Family Business Experts

Succession Challenges in the Family Business

P.B. Hoidale is a 60 year old family-owned business based in Wichita KS – they sell, install and service storage tanks and pumps for retail gasoline sales.

Rick Dixon took over the business in 1972 from his grandfather – and now his son Steve Dixon is the fourth generation to run the family business.

Steve practiced law before joining the company and noted that “Law is a good career, but this is a lot more fun.”

Rick and Steve agree that shifting the operational responsibilities for the family business from one generation can be a tough challenge.

One reason is that the so much of the older generation’s wealth is invested in the business. “It’s important to figure out how retirement income gets handled,” said Rick Dixon.

Over the years they have seen a lot of changes in the gas business – an industry that has changed from many small brand companies to where the industry has become highly consolidated.

Likewise, there have been many changes to how succession in the family business is managed. The process has become less autocratic and more open – more planful.

To review some tips on the succession management process, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Successor Training

When it comes to successor training programs, few are as successful as the Dealer Candidate Academy conducted by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).

NADA was formed in 1917 and is based in Mclean VA. It represents over 20,000 new car and truck dealers holding over 43,000 domestic and international franchises.

The NADA program is an intensive 12 month course in dealership management. Six weeks of classroom study are combined with 45 weeks of in-dealership training.

Richard Burritt recently completed the NADA program. He is the fourth generation of the Burritt family to join Burritt Motors Chevrolet-Buick in Oswego NY. His dad Chris Burritt said “Rich will use the skills he’s gained from this training program to prepare for further management responsibilities at our dealership. It’s the perfect compliment to the BS in Business Administration he earned from Clarkson University in 2005.”

Successful family businesses pay careful attention to the on-going professional training and personal development of the management team. Training and Development are essential to the survival and growth of family businesses.

To learn more about Training and Development programs, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Is Procrastination a Problem in Your Family’s Business?

The Richmond Baking Company was organized in 1902. – 104 years ago. The Richmond IN based company is the nation’s oldest family-owned cookie and cracker bakery.

Jim Quigg, took over the business upon the death of his father, J. Robert Quigg in 1969.

James Quigg was recently honored as he was inducted into the Junior Achievement of Eastern Indiana’s Hall of Fame. At the ceremony, his advice to young people interested in becoming successful business men and woman is not to procrastinate. Said Quigg, “Follow through with your promises - do it and do it in a timely fashion and don’t procrastinate.”

In family businesses, “procrastination” comes in many different flavors. Sometimes it is simply a bad work habit that is deeply ingrained in the management system of the company.

Two of the most common causes for not getting things done in a timely fashion are limited resources and poor project controls.

Priorities in a family business can shift on a day to day basis. Organizing the company’s “To Do List” can be further complicated in a family business when the “To Do List” of individual family members is added to the equation.

Issue tracking software is an interesting approach to helping a family business better organize their resources and to create a framework for getting resolution to problems in the business and within the family – and getting it done in a timely manner.

To learn more about issue tracking software, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Avoiding Family Feuds

Congratulations to the Jack Williams Tire Company in Moosic PA. This family business was selected as “Tire Dealer of the Year” by Modern Tire Dealer, the industry’s leading publication.

The business was started by Jack Williams in 1929. His son Bill entered the business in 1962 and bought out his two brothers in 1980. Today, the Jack Williams Tire Company operates a 100,000 square foot warehouse and distribution center, 24 retails stores and has over 350 employees.

Helping Bill run the business is his family management team that includes Bill’s wife Sandi, who is in charge of the real estate division, son Scott, who is the company’s president and chief operating officer, son Jason, who is the executive vice president and general manager, daughter Tracy, who handles public relations and advertising and daughter-in-law Stephanie, who is the manager of public relations and advertising.

In reflecting on his successes, Bill says “It’s the accomplishment of having my family not only being close but watching them gradually take over the company. We are successful because everybody’s heart and soul is really in the business. You have to be open-minded and you have to let the younger people bring in new ideas, energy and enthusiasm. If you don’t, you get stagnant. And a stagnant company fails.”

Keeping the family business focused and on-track to successfully transition the business from one generation to the next does not just happen – it is the result of careful planning and a lot of hard work.

A family feud can distract and disrupt the succession process.

To review some tips on avoiding family feuds, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Creating the Legacy - Wealth Management and The Family Business

Wealth management is an important aspect of any family business and key to the exit strategy for the older generation in a family-owned business.

A recent poll taken of a select group of wealth management experts identified some of the most critical topics – some of the most difficult discussions wealth managers have with their clients.

Immature Children

"Privilege can lead to excess and a lack of responsibility. Helping clients teach the next generation the value of a dollar will allow the clients to enjoy their wealth secure in the knowledge that their legacy will live on." Managing Director of Investments, Wachovia Securities Previous marriages "Divorce and previous marriages can be an unpleasant and awkward topic, often surrounded by feelings of anger and resentment. However, marriage is a contract with all sorts of financial and legal implications and it is vital that you have a complete picture of the past in order to make good decisions for your client's future." Director, Credit Suisse Private Banking Differing spousal views on financial matters "Acting as the de facto CFO of a family requires the wealth manager to use a balance of tact and frankness that is difficult to strike given the mix of business and personal matters at hand. This can be particularly challenging when dealing with two 'chief executives' who have different ideas about how to handle their assets. In these situations, the wealth manager must play the role of both arbitrator and advisor." Managing Director Investments, Smith Barney Uneasy retirement "When owners sell their business they often are unsure how to invest the resulting assets and what to do next. If the wealth manager has fostered a strong relationship with the client, he is now in the position to serve not only as wealth manager but as business and career manager as well." Managing Partner, Ferruccci Company

Children from multiple relationships "Children from multiple relationships raise difficult questions about inheritances and child support. Working with the lawyers and the family, the wealth manager should begin the process by advocating full disclosure so plans and programs can be put in place." Senior VP, RBC Dain Rauscher

To learn more about wealth management, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Responsibility Diffusion

One of the common characteristics of successful family-owned businesses is their ability and commitment to customer service. So strong is the commitment to customer service that these customer relationships can become generational in nature.

A good example is the New Era Cap Company. It was founded in Buffalo NY in 1920 by Ehrhardt Koch and the current CEO is his great-grandson, Chis Koch. Today, the company employs over 1,500 people.

New Era Cap Company is America’s leading maker of baseball caps. The company has maintained a relationship with Major League Baseball for 70 years!

For family businesses, the key to creating successful long-term customer relationships is their ability to train managers and employees to be responsible for the success of the company – to have pride of ownership.

Flipping the coin, the major problem to good customer service is “responsibility diffusion”. You can learn more about this organizational problem by checking out our web site: Family Business Experts

Wal-Mart Generic Drug Program – A Multi-Strategy Initiative

Wal-Mart, a family business, is the world’s largest retailer. In mid-September, Wal-Mart announced that they would be running a test program in the 65 stores they have in the Tampa area – selling generic prescription drugs, a 30-day supply for $4. This week, Wal-Mart announced that the program has been so successful that they are introducing the generic drug program to all of their stores in Florida.

The generic drug program can represent a significant savings on some drugs for customers and Wal-Mart employees. This is an interesting initiative not only for the cost savings to customers, but also dove-tails to a company strategy to relax eligibility requirements for health care insurance for part time employees. Undoubtedly, one of the aims is to counter the negative publicity Wal-Mart has encountered from pro-union organizers.

The Wal-Mart generic drug program is a classic example of a strategy with multiple sub-sets that encompass the 4-Ps of marketing – Product, Price, Place and Promotion – plus much more!

To learn more about the 4-Ps of marketing, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Business Communication Systems

GENCO is a third generation family business headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. The business was founded by current CEO Herb Shear’s grandfather in 1898. When Herb joined the regional trucking business in 1970, sales were around $300,000. Today, GENCO is a $400 million dollar business that operates warehouses in the US and Canada that total more than 26 million square feet of warehouse space and employs over 5,000 “teammates”.

Herb Shear suggested the success of GENCO rests on three simple communication-based strategies – taking care of the employees by creating a dynamic team system; knowing and satisfying customer needs; and attention to trends in the market place – knowing what the market is asking for and then providing that service.

Business communications encompasses a broad spectrum of interactions, both internal and external communication functions. Many of these communication interactions occur independently and are not connected to a core communication strategy for the family business.

To review some of the communication devices and platforms for your family business, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Changing With The Times

Spalding and Sons is the oldest retail store in Kentucky. They are celebrating their 150th anniversary this month with an open house that will be hosted by members of the 4th, 5th and 6th generation of family members!

The store was initially opened as a general store in Bardstown and through the years came to understand that they could not be everything to everyone. To survive, they had to change what they were doing and how they were doing it – well not everything. The clerks still wrap the purchases and offer quality customer service.

In studying generational family businesses, one characteristic they all have in common – the ability to adapt to change. Dr Ken Mackenzie, one of the world’s leading experts in the field of Organizational Theory and Leadership suggests that today, an organization’s ability to be successful rests in its ability to react to change, rapidly.

To read more about change management, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Education Helps Promote Growth in Family Businesses

According to the US Census Bureau, the number of Hispanics earning business-related degrees is on the rise and the number of Hispanic-owned businesses is growing three times faster than the national average.

Pro Optical in Corpus Christi TX is a good example of this trend.

Miguel Pro grew up poor in Mexico. He did whatever work he could find to help raise his six siblings after his dad died. Getting an education was something he had neither time nor money to do.

Later on, he learned how to grind lenses in a small optical lab before spending the next 20 years working for a large optical company. In 1976 he started his own business, Pro Optical.

Today, Miquel (73) his son Michael (46) and his grandson Mike (24) run the business. Michael received his bachelor’s degree in refractometry and Mike’s degree is in business administration. "I was blessed with more opportunities than my grandfather, and I wanted to get that outside knowledge at a university to bring fresh ideas to his company," said Mike.

Professionalizing the management of the family’s business is crucial to developing the infra-structure needed to successfully grow the business. It is also an important part of the succession formula - being able to successfully transition the business to the next generation of family ownership.

To read more about the professionalization process, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Family Business Retreat Strengthens Communications

The family business retreat is one of the most important strategies used to help strengthen the communication system in a family-owned business. The family business retreat can involve all the family members who work in the family business, those family members not active in the business and the spouses of the family members.

The retreat offers a stress-free environment for the family to celebrate the successes of the family business and to share in the process for creating the future vision for the family business. The retreat can be held at a venue where the family can have some fun together such as a ski or beach resort.

Many families feel that the key to building a more successful family business team is to engage a facilitator for the family business retreat, a family business professional who can help the family learn to identify and build on the strengths of the family’s knowledge and experience.

To learn more about the benefits of using a facilitator at your family business retreat, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Does Your Family Business Have A Contingency Plan?

Contingency planning should be part of every manager’s responsibility. Developing a contingency plan generally starts with two words “What if…”

The importance of contingency planning was driven home with large scale events like 9-11 and Katrina. Today, many businesses are thinking about operational needs should the US be hit with a pandemic flu.

For many family businesses, the vulnerability is not so much events like a terrorist attack or a hurricane – but what happens if you lose a major customer.

Miles Fiberglass & Composites is located in Clackamas County Oregon. The business was founded by Lowell Miles in 1963. The top management team included two daughters and their husbands.

Through no fault of the company, they lost their main customer and sales dropped from $10 million in 2000 to $3.4 million in 2002

The company reduced employees – the payroll shrank from 100 employees to 34. But it became clear to the management team that cutbacks alone were not going to save their company. The key to solving their problems was in diversification – and that meant finding new customers and launching new products.

The diversification plan and a lot of hard work paid off. Today the employees are back to full force and this year sales are slated to top $13 million.

Redefining corporate strategy should be an ongoing process. To learn more about organizational strategies, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Nepotism And The Family Business

Adam Bellow wrote “In Praise of Nepotism” – a great read for anyone involved in a family business. He addresses the “New Nepotism” and based on our experience, he is right on target.

When we talk about “nepotism” the conversation is usually about business but “nepotism” occurs in every field including politics (the Kennedy and Bush families) and religion too.

Will Graham, 31, has entered the family business started by his grandfather, Rev Billy Graham. Speaking at his first celebration in NC, Will noted, “"There's pressure on this one because it's so close to Charlotte, so close to headquarters, there's always pressure when you go into the family business." Grandfather’s advice to his grandson, “study, study, study” and “pray, pray, pray”.

To read an interesting interview of Adam Bellow, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Starting An On-Line Business

SterlingTek is a family business based in Las Cruses NM. This Internet business was stated by Chris Sterling Chenault in 1999 while he was a student at Emory University in Atlanta GA.

The first go at creating an Internet business involved selling jewelry but that business failed. His second go was at selling digital camera supplies and equipment – and that became a successful business.

As the business grew, he brought in his dad Tom, his mother Thelma and his brothers Steve and Shawn. The company now has over 20 employees and does more than 2 million in sales. Tom, Thelma and Steve live in Las Cruses while Shawn has lived for two years in China helping to develop new lines and new products. Chris still lives in Atlanta.

To learn more about starting an on-line business, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Retirement Postponement Syndrome

ZAG is a network of independent financial investment advisor firms who talk about “RPS” – Retirement Postponement Syndrome.

According to ZAG, these are the 5 key warning signs of RPS:

(1) BANKING ON UNSURE THINGS. If you are counting on the sale of your home or small business to bail out underfunded retirement savings and investments, think again. As recent months have illustrated, home prices can be mercurial. In addition, a home may sit on the market for months or even longer before being sold, often at a reduced price. Small business owners who rely heavily on selling their firm at a handsome profit or making a smooth transition via a family succession take a big chance on coming up short on their retirement nest egg

(2) FALLING INTO THE T.R.A.P. Many Baby Boomers had children later in life than their parents did ... and others started a second family in their 40s or even early 50s. Both of these parenting circumstances can put even the most diligent saver and investor in the T.R.A.P.: Tuition, Retirement and (Related) Problems. Boomers in their 50s and early 60s with children heading off to college risk seeing their retirement savings substantially depleted at the worst possible time.

(3) COUNTING ON AN "ECONO" RETIREMENT. If your retirement plan is predicated on the notion that your living expenses will go way down, you could be making a classic mistake. Financial advisors know that spending by retirees (particularly Baby Boomers) often does not go down. In fact, such spending often surges as people realize they finally can travel and engage in the hobbies they never had the time to do while working

(4) IGNORING YOUR "SANDWICH." More and more Baby Boomers are finding themselves saddled with medical and housing expenses for aging parents. Investors in such a situation are said to be in the "sandwich generation," particularly when they are also confronted with paying for college or other expenses of one or more children. In 2005, 71 percent of Baby Boomers aged 41-59 had at least one living parent, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. That was up considerably from 1989, when only 60 percent of Boomers had a living parent.

(5) LIVING IN YOUR OWN REALITY SHOW. All too many parents with children returning to live at home after college -- or never leaving home in the first place! -- end up saddled with their own "reality show"-like headaches. Irresponsible adult children can mean such major savings-draining expenses as lavish second or third weddings, gambling debts and the cost of dealing with drug problems. Today more than 25 percent of Americans ages 18-34 live at home with their parents, according to U.S. Census figures

To learn more about retirement planning and creating a family business legacy, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Advisory Board - Creating A “Think Tank” For Your Business

One of the most powerful strategies a family business owner can consider is creating an Advisory Board. Many family businesses operate in an insulated environment – where there is little opportunity for objective input from outside of the family. While the business owner may feel comfortable with the growth and profitability of the family’s business, a new and fresh set of eyes might see opportunities to make a good business, better. In some cases, the family business owner will be totally unaware of how much money is being “left on the table”.

The Advisory Board can be a safety net for both the family and the business should the family business owner die or become incapacitated.

The Advisory Board can help the family business owner make decisions about the management and leadership skills of the next generation – and can be an additional resource in the “seasoning” and training of the next generation of ownership.

For more information on the benefits of having an Advisory Board for your family business, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

SWOT Analysis – A Family Business Success Strategy

“Every success is usually an admission ticket to a new set of decisions”, opined Henry Kissinger. This is sage advice for family-owned businesses about the need to be constantly seeking ways to improve the performance of their company.

One of the easiest exercises to improve the performance of any organization is the SWOT Analysis. All the tools required are a sheet of paper, a pencil, an open mind and the courage to motivate the management team to challenge and improve “the way it has always been done”.

To learn more about SWOT Analysis, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Family Fun & The Family Business

“Happy families are all alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” wrote Leo Tolstoy in his book Anna Karenina. That observation certainly applies to family businesses as well.

Family businesses, where family members are having fun, working together, generally have a prosperous business and enjoy healthy family relationships.

They also tend to have a stronger awareness of their family’s history and talk easily about the culture of the family and how family values drive the decision making in the family business.

The FamilyLore Game is a wonderful and fun way for families to learn about their family’s history, culture and values. One large vacation and resort rental company developed a “family reunion” initiative around family values and used the FamilyLore Game in their national magazine advertising campaign as well as in the family reunion promotional packages at all of their resort properties.

In a few weeks, families across America will be getting together to celebrate one of our greatest family holidays, Thanksgiving. The FamilyLore Game helps to encourage families to be better connected by knowing more about the history of their family – and is a game that can be played by young and old. It is a sure bet to have everyone laughing, telling stories and having fun.

To learn more about the FamilyLore Game, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Succession Is About Evolution Not Revolution

Dierbergs, a family-owned grocery store chain located in the St Louis area, trace their business history back to 1854. They now operate 23 stores and provide jobs to over 5,000 people.

The fourth generation of family leadership has been announced. Greg Dierberg, who joined the company in 1994, has been promoted to President and CEO. His sister, Laura Dierberg Padousis, has been promoted to Vice President and Secretary. Their dad, Bob Dierberg will remain as Chairman.

Succession experts recommend that family members work outside of the family’s business before joining the family business. Greg learned about the wholesale side of the grocery business working for Dierberg’s wholesale supplier Supervalu which is located in Minneapolis.

"The transition is not about a new direction, but we'll try to build and improve upon our strengths," said Greg Dierberg.

"As Chairman, I will remain very involved in the company's continued growth, overall retail operations and governmental and union relations," said Bob Dierberg.

To gain a better understanding of the succession management process, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

How To Better Organize Your Business

Family-owned businesses often have self-imposed restraints on growing their business.

While the owner/entrepreneur may have a technical expertise that enables the business to survive, growing and expanding the business often requires business building skills that the owner does not have.

One good source for business owners who are intent on gaining better business skills are local colleges. Talking with the small business development center at the school could help the business owner in deciding what courses might be of the most benefit.

Distant learning options are getting to be very popular. Most state university systems now offer a wide range of on-line classes for students who do not have the time or the inclination to be involved in the traditional college on-campus programs.

Another consideration for business owners to better organize their business is a fantastic, easy-to-read management handbook called Chaos Busters – The Management Guide. It contains 160 tips for helping a business owner to grow the business and to increase their profits.

To learn more about Chaos Busters, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Leadership Innovation: Making More With Less

Dr. Michael Stein has a medical practice in Concord NH – a medical practice that has made some significant changes from the conventional model. The new innovation is called patient financed medical care.

A primary care doctor, he employed 10 people, had 4,000 patients and made $300,000 per year. He was working a 12 hour days and seeing 25-40 patients a day! The hectic pace was not good for the patients – and certainly not good for the doctor.

The chicken or the egg conundrum was that he had to have that kind of volume to cover the overhead and still make a comfortable living.

Dealing with patient health insurance was a primary driver of costs in the profitability equation of his medical practice.

The “What if” idea that Dr. Stein started to ponder is what would happen if he stopped accepting insurance. “What if” he charged a patient an annual fee for unlimited access to his professional services?

Today his practice has 250 patients and he sees perhaps 6 patients a day. Each of his patients pay an annual fee of $1,000 – some with special needs pay an additional $500 per year. His labor costs have gone from $350,000 for the 10 people to $50,000 – his only employee is his wife, Gena.

By removing the insurance companies from the equation, he no longer has to practice medicine by the rules and guidelines established by the insurance companies that drive so much of the overhead in a conventional medical practice.

The innovation in his medical practice is a win-win situation for the patients and the doctor.

To learn more about leadership and innovation, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

“Shakedown” Law Suits Hurt American Business

Stories abound in the media about “shakedown” lawsuits against large corporations. But “shakedown” lawsuits are not just targeting large businesses; they are also having a profit draining impact on family-owned businesses. “Shakedown” lawsuit attorneys target smaller sized business seeking quick “go- away” settlements.

Amigo Mobility International is a family-owned business in Michigan. They manufacture scooters that are used by handicapped and senior shoppers at grocery stores. Al Theime built the first Amigo in the 1968. His wife Beth reports that “shakedown” lawsuits are the worse part of their business. Frivolous lawsuits have hurt their business.

“We have had our share of “shakedown” lawsuits where someone was just looking for settlement money,” says Beth. “at 2.3 miles per hour, an individual weighing nearly 300 pounds will tell you they were catapulted out of the equipment. You know what? It didn’t happen – it couldn’t have happened.”

Last year it is estimated that “shakedown” lawsuits and attorney fees amounted to an astounding 88 BILLION dollars according to Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse in Houston TX. That translates to about $900 in additional product and service costs for every person in the US.

Another example of how “shakedown” lawsuits can impact an organization - the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch reports that the Detroit Girl Scouts have to sell 36,000 boxes of cookies – just to pay for the insurance in case they are sued.

Groups are being organized at the state and national levels to take action against “shakedown” lawsuits and other like-types of legal actions. The American Justice Partnership is a national nonprofit coalition of leading corporations, think tanks, foundations, trade associations, individuals and organizations advocating for legal reform at the state level. Their web site is

To learn more about Risk Management and what you can do to better protect your family’s business, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

The ABCs of Positioning

The family-owned Hanzawa Store is located in Haiku, on the island of Maui in Hawaii.

The store was founded by Tetsuji Hanzawa and his brother Taichiro.

During WWII the two brothers were taken to an internment camp on the mainland for 4 years. During that time the store was run by Tetsuji’s oldest daughter, Betty, and her siblings Ralph, Jenette, Jane and Myrtle. Today, the general manager of the store is Betty’s daughter, Sandra Daniells.

The second generation made a commitment that when their dad and his brother returned from their forced internment during WWII, they would be pleased that the family had been able to keep the business going. The third generation is likewise motivated to continue the legacy of their family’s business.

Founded in 1915, the Hanzawa Store has been successful by being able to adapt to changes in the customer base that shop at the store - as well as to the range and type of products that are being sold.

One of the keys to maintaining a successful business over a long period of time is paying attention to “positioning”. To learn more about “positioning” and your family business, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Spousal Partnerships

Well over a million businesses in the US are run by husband and wife teams – and many are generational businesses.

A good example is Howland Home Improvement in Laconia NH.

Howland Home Improvement was founded in 1946 in Laconia NH by Ed Howland and his wife Margaret.

The second generation husband and wife team was Dave and Gale Howland.

The third generation husband and wife team, Craig and Kelly Howland, are now running the business.

Over the past 60 years the business has changed but good service and workmanship still provide “word of mouth” referrals that represent 50% of new sales.

To gain a better understanding of how to grow your family business while at the same time maintaining healthy family relationships, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Exit Strategies For Family Partnerships

Stehlin’s Meat Market is located in Colerain Township, near Cincinnati.

The business was founded by “Butch” Stehlin. The business was not a product of a sophisticated business plan. Because of a flood, Stehlin, who was driving a herd of cattle, could not reach the slaughter house. So he slaughtered the herd, one by one, and sold the meat. He started a meat business but shut it down to serve in the military. After returning from service in WWI, Stehlin married Eleonora and together they restarted the meat businesses as a spousal partnership.

The second generation of family ownership was a sibling partnership of the three Stehlin sons Vernon, Ervan and Harold. In 1948 they built their own slaughterhouse and added a grocery store to the family enterprise.

The third generation became a cousin partnership of Ervan’s sons, Dick and Ron; Harold’s sons, John and Denny.

John noted that while sons from each of the four current partners, only one is showing an interest in taking over as the fourth generation owner of the family’s business. “With four equal partners, he couldn’t buy it out. I don’t know what that will look like. It is more complicated than people expect.”

Sibling and cousin partnerships pose unique and complicated issues. Because of age differences between the siblings and/or cousins, and differing financial needs, developing an exit strategy that matches the needs of each of the partners is not an easy task. Using a family business consultant to “quarterback” the process will keep the planning process moving forward while paying attention to the need for maintaining healthy family relationships.

The best place to start is to order a valuation done by a business valuation expert. In selecting the best valuation expert, consideration should be paid to their experience in dealing with family businesses, family business partnerships and family limited partnerships. Avoid those people doing valuations using “rule of thumb” formulas for valuing the business.

To learn more about choosing a business valuation expert for your business, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Checks and Balances Prevent Employee Theft

Family-owned businesses are easy targets for employees who are intent on theft and embezzlement. When family businesses first start out, they reason that since family members are involved with almost every operation, the need for a system of checks and balances seems unnecessary. But as the business grows and more non-family employees are hired, these trusting family businesses are terribly vulnerable.

Electronic Design for Industry is a company in Marietta, Ohio. In 2002 Rich Wynn, president, hired a new manager for the office. In three months the woman had embezzled over $60,000 and left their book keeping system in complete chaos.

“We were a small family-owned business that had built itself on trust. We trusted our employees our customers and considered them part of our family. It was how we had done business for over 20 years and ultimately we became so trustworthy that we were burned,” Wynn said.

The problem that hit EDI is not an isolated incident – it is reported that each year that employees embezzle and steal more than $652 Billion dollars from US businesses.

Many family-owned businesses are learning from the experiences of others and are taking time to develop proper accounting practices that include an effective system of checks and balances – and are performing routine audits to ensure that the policies are being followed.

For family business owners who think that they have a problem but are unable to put all the pieces together - the best option is to consider doing an accounting and security audit by a professional security firm. Many members of these firms are former FBI types who are trained and experienced at ferreting out all types of white collar crime. One of the best known private investigators for family-owned businesses, Harold Copus, heads up the security division for the Family Business Institute in Atlanta.

To learn more about how a security professional can save you money – maybe even save your family’s business, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

“Moving” – A Family Business Strategy

The Inland Northwest is the eastern part of Washington and the northern part of Idaho. Of the more than 70 companies that have moved to the region over the past 15 years, 66 are family-owned businesses. The majority moved from Western states for the quality of life and to be able to reduce the operating costs of the business.

Two examples of family businesses that migrated to the region are Tapmatic Corporation and Buck Knifes.

Tapmatic is a third generation family business in the tool manufacturing industry. They moved from Irvine CA to Post Falls ID. They viewed the move as an opportunity to become the competitive force in their industry by reducing operating costs while at the same time investing in the quality of life for their employees.

“As we got closer to the move, more and more people expressed interest in relocating (with the company),” says Mark Johnson, the third generation owner of Tapmatic. “Housing is more affordable here, the commute is shorter, outdoor activities abound. Post Falls is a great location for Tapmatic. All our support processes are nearby and the quality of life couldn’t be better.”

Buck Knives, a fourth generation family business moved to Post Falls from El Cajon CA. The relocation proved more profitable than expected – operational costs were reduced by 30% following the move. “It’s a new lease on life for our company, as well as our employees,” says Chairman Chuck Buck.

Developing future strategies for a family business has much to do about corporate governance and accountability. The more a family business owner knows about how business issues are connected within their business and how these issues impact profitability and competitive advantage – the more options they have in maximizing shareholder value. To learn more about corporate governance and the family business, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Entering The Family Business

Bruce Hodgdon founded the Hodgdon Powder Company in Overland KS in 1946.He started the business by purchasing 50,000 pounds of gunpowder, part of the military surplus from WWII. Today the company has 80 employees and is a recognized leader in their industry.

The company is now run by his sons, Bob Hodgdon and J.B. Hodgdon.

A third generation family business, Chris Hodgdon is the director of sales and marketing and his brother-in-law, Erwin Rodriguez, manages human resources.

“Like a lot of family businesses, we have more good days than not. I enjoy working with my family and I enjoy shooting sports, so it’s nice to tie my hobby with my career.” said Hodgdon.

The company has well defined rules of entry for family members. They must earn a college degree and work outside of the family business for at least 5 years – and then train in each department of the company.

Before joining the family business, Chris worked in radio. He has been with the company for 13 years. “I highly suggest if you are going into the family business that you work for someone else. You bring a fresh perspective to the table when you join the family business,” said Hodgdon.

Most family business experts agree. Having the kids work outside of the family business for 2-5 years before they enter the family business is a smart strategy.

To read more tactical ideas and strategies for creating a successful succession plan, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Sweet Success!

The Obade Candy Company was founded in 1936 by Thomas and Norma Obade in Kittanning PA.

70 Years later the business is still going strong. The business is currently run by brothers John and Tom Nasser.

"We put our customers first," John Nasser said. "That is the way we've always done it and it has worked very well for us over the years." The company distributes beverages and tobacco products, in addition to candy and serves customers in 6 counties.

"Friends and family have been a big part of this company over the 70 years," he said. "From Thomas and Norma and their daughter June, to my father, Norman Nasser, and to my brother and sister, we've all put a lot of hard work into making this a successful business."

"Just in cigarette sales, we generate $2 million in tax revenues to the state and federal government annually," he said. "That's a pretty large amount of taxes generated when you look at the size of the business."

"I would love to say that our business will be handed down to the next generation, but we've always placed the focus on getting an education," he said. "Whether or not they choose to come back and run the business remains to be seen."

In addition to getting a good education, family business experts recommend that before kids come into the family business, they work elsewhere from 3-5 years. This provides the kids an opportunity to gain some practical work and management experience to go along with their diplomas.

To read some more tips on succession, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Major Changes In Passport Requirements

Monday, January 8th, new passport regulations go into effect.

The goal of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is to strengthen border security – to be better able to facilitate entry into the US by US citizens and legal foreign visitors. The changes will enable the Department of Homeland Security to better able to more accurately identify travelers.

US citizens will required to have a passport when traveling to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Central & Southern America and the Caribbean countries.

US citizens will not require passports to travel directly to US territories Puerto Rico, Guam, The US Virgin Islands, Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

For questions and information, call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.

When traveling abroad, it is a good idea to keep a photocopy of your passport, separate from your passport documents, as a defense against identity theft and to facilitate getting a new passport.

To read some tips on preventing identity theft, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Flying High

Many family businesses and family business owners are also involved in General Aviation (GA).

Some are FBOs that provide GA pilots a broad range of services at airports across the nation.

But most GA pilots are using airplanes for their business and for recreation.

So the news at Cessna is good news for GA. Business at Cessna is flying high – they are planning to add 600 new workers. Cessna sales backlog is reported at 8.5 billion – with 1/3rd being international sales.

Cessna CEO Pelton says biggest problem is parts shortages and foreign competition driving down costs. "If our perceived value of our product is higher, that will allow us to compete," said Pelton.

If you are in a family business and are interested in General Aviation – check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Korean Entrepreneurs

You can not watch any of the TV news channels without becoming aware that the country is being flooded with immigrants, legal and illegal.

Whether the immigrants are coming from Latin America, Korea, the Philippines or China – one thing many immigrants seem to have in common is knowing that in the United States they will be able to do something they probably never accomplish in their native countries – and that is to start a business.

Many immigrants shelve their training and college degrees to start anew – because they can quickly start and grow their own business without having to master the English language.

Korean immigrants have been starting their own businesses here in America for decades.

In fact the Koreans have a system, a type of pooling of money called “kae”. The Korean immigrant families contribute to this rotating credit system and when they are ready to launch their own business, they can withdraw monies from this fund. Once the business is up and running, they can repay their friends and family who make up their “kae”.

If you would like to learn more about financing a business, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Reducing Tax Liability

One of the questions often asked by family business owners is “When should I begin my succession planning?”

The best answer is “The sooner the better!”

Without proper planning, the tax liability for a family-owned business can exceed 50% of the value of the business. Without proper planning, the tax liability that hits when a family business owner dies can ruin the family and wreck the business – or both.

One of the most important steps a family business owner can take when starting his/her succession planning is to order a professional valuation of the business. The business valuation can accurately establish the value of the business within the rules and regulations of the IRS.

To learn more about the valuation process, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Develop Local Business With A Website

Many businesses, with local customers, disregard the business building potential a web site can be. They reason that their business caters to local customers – and the “reach” of the Internet would not do them any good.

That is an incorrect perception.

Local businesses can greatly benefit from using a web site - just as large multi-national businesses find value in using a web site as a business building tool.

Research indicates that more people are using the Internet to search for local businesses, rather than using the phone book. As one web expert put it, “Think of a web site as a super Yellow Pages ad with 100 times the result - at 1/10th of the price!”

To learn more about using a web site to increase local traffic, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Wounded Soldiers Need Laptops

Laura Brown has a son who went to war and returned unharmed. While talking with another mom with a wounded son recovering at Walter Reed Hospital, she learned that there were not enough laptops to go around.

Brown, who lives in Cody WY has made it her personal mission to make a difference.

She formed a non-profit called Laptops For The Wounded that is providing laptop computers to wounded vets. Since she started her mission in 2005, she has donated 27 laptops to wounded vets – 24 of them to Walter Reed.

Last Friday she delivered 10 laptops to the hospital in person. These laptops were upgraded to include web cameras so the vets and their families could “see” one another.

"She basically just made it her mission," said Lisa Ramdass, a case manager at the hospital who has been working with Brown to coordinate the donations. Ramdass said the laptops are used for more than e-mail. One soldier who worked with a donated laptop could not speak, and was able to communicate with his family and his doctors by typing on the computer. Others who have eye injuries use the laptops to watch movies or television up close.

Wyoming U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin said "Out of the goodness of her heart, she's turned a few small donations into a national campaign," she said.

If you or your company would like to help Laura Brown in her campaign to provide laptop computers to wounded vets – visit her web site at

Intra-Family Loans

Although lending money to family members has risks, intra-family loans are also a way to pass on part of the family estate.

Today’s interest rates are low and so families ought to be looking at intra-family loans carefully. However, drawing up these loans should be done with the help of your CPA and/or your tax attorney.

Obviously, the risk of a family loan should be scrutinized as would a loan to stranger. Family loans that go bad not only bear the financial consequences – but may wreck the family relationship as well.

Some parents see that lending money for a mortgage might earn more interest than CDs or other savings plans – but with most other savings plans, family loans are not guaranteed.

Lending money to a family member for a business can be very risky. Most financial experts recommend the family member go to a bank or other lending service for business loans.

The IRS may get involved when lending money to family members. There is something called the AFR (applicable federal rate) that the IRS may use to apply a minimal interest rate.

Charging too little interest can be problematic if the IRS imputes an interest charge for the loan to a family member. Different rules can apply regarding the size of the loan and how the money is used.

Formal documentation is important to both parties of a loan to a family member. The terms of the loan, the interest rates, the payment schedules and other information your financial planning advisors may recommend, need to be spelled out. There are legal and tax ramifications that the documentation can support. The documentation is also important for disclosure to other family members – especially if there is concern about estate equalization.

Intra-family loans can be very tricky and complex. Don’t try to do it yourself- get your CPA and/or your tax attorney involved.

To learn more about family loans and family business financing, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Planning Your Family Reunion

Planning your family reunion? With all of the media attention on family values, family reunions have become very popular events. More families than ever before are getting together to celebrate their family values and traditions by attending family reunions.

In the past, family reunions were a “coming home” for family members – but were, for the most part, local events. As the kids in the family grew up and started their own families, the tendency was for most of the family to stay in the same area of the country.

With today’s more mobile society, family members live in different parts of the country. That being the case, it takes a great deal more planning for the event to be successful. Even for moderately sized family reunions, the logistics can be daunting.

For some great tips on planning your family reunion, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Delivery Time - A Smart Family Business Strategy

Sko-Die, a third generation family business, was founded in 1947 by Joseph Steininger in Morton Grove IL. The company manufactures metal stamps and dies.

In an industry that has been hurt by off-shore manufacturing, Sko-Die has enjoyed a 60% increase in sales from 2002 to 2006 – by using “time” as a competitive strategy. Many of their customers are organized for Just In Time (JIT) manufacturing – and Sko-Die fills the bill in a way that foreign competitors can not.

Second generation owner, Richard Steininger bought the business from his dad in 1985.

Third generation owner, Patrick Steininger, took over the family’s business from his dad when his dad retired in 2002.

“Each generation has brought it a little further. I took it as far as probably I could (with) my education and things such as that, and Patrick’s bringing it a little bit further,” said Richard.

Innovation – in this case, connecting and adapting their business to manufacturing operations using JIT strategies, has helped to make this family business successful.

To learn more about “innovation” and how it can have a significant impact on your family’s business, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Global Promotion

Geiger Brothers is a 4th generation family business based in Lewiston, Maine.

Founded in Newark, NJ in 1878, Geiger is the industry's largest family-owned and family-managed distributor of promotional products in the country - a unique heritage spanning 4 Geiger generations and 3 centuries.

The company employees 500 associates at the Maine headquarters and in 15 sales offices. They support a network of 450 independent promotional consultants and more than 50,000 customers.

Geiger Brothers is an aptly named company.

First generation of owners - brothers Andrew and Jacob Geiger.

Second generation - brothers Frank, Charles and George Geiger

Third generation - brothers Ray and Frank Geiger.

Fourth generation and managing the company today - brothers Gene and Peter Geiger.

In March, Geiger Brothers was recognized as the "Family Business of the Year" by the Advertising Specialty Institute. Attending the awards ceremony was fifth generation family member, Jeffrey Geiger.

In addition to a wide range of promotional products, the company also publishes the Farmers’ Almanac.

The company’s more recent growth and expansion has been the strategy to use the Internet. Currently, it is leading the industry’s push toward e-commerce.

To learn more about how your family business can take advantage of the Internet to grow your family business, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

“Growing” Is What This 4th Generation Business Does

Bachman’s was founded in 1885 as a farm operation in the Minneapolis – St Paul area. The business has transition from a farm operation to being a florist and home & garden centers – 19 locations in all.

Dale Bachman is the CEO of this fourth generation family business. The diversity of services underscores how innovation drives entrepreneurship at Bachman’s.

They have indoor and outdoor landscaping divisions, a nursery wholesale division, greenhouses that cover 7 acres and a 513 acre farm that produces many of the plants, flowers and landscaping products sold by Bachman’s – and a fleet of delivery trucks.

Customers take advantage of the 24 hour a day order taking service.

They provide tours of the main facility where each customer gets a peek at the operations that go on behind the scenes, a complimentary rose and a discount coupon.

Bachman’s offers fund raising services. They also carry the full line of Weber Grills.

At the main store customers can enjoy Patrick’s Bakery and Café.

To gain a better understanding of how innovation drives entrepreneurship, check out our web site: Family Business Experts

Competitive Hiring: Balancing Recruiting and Retention

At a recent conference on hiring and recruiting for family-owned businesses, executive search expert Jon Harvill noted that reports that the job index indicates a 12.5% increase in the composite growth rate. Competition for good candidates is intense.

One of the questions put forth by one of the attendees, “Is there a way to balance your efforts to recruit new staff members with your need to retain your best employees”?

Here are five principles of candidate recruitment and employee retention which, if observed, should help your family business achieve such a balance.

Seize The Initiative

In hiring, this means understanding the dynamics of a “candidate-driven” or “seller’s” market, and taking the extra steps needed to draw the best candidates into your fold. It means creating a hiring environment where all recruits feel welcome, and all are provided and shown a number of reasons why they should join your firm. In employee retention, it means taking proactive steps to provide the performance reviews, salary bumps, productivity tools and training your great employees need as a matter of course, rather than merely reacting when someone complains or resigns.

Get Involved

When hiring, make your presence known both formally and informally as the steps in the hiring process unfold. This means making sure the candidate is greeted properly and personally when he or she first arrives for the interview, and it also means briefly “popping in” from time to time as the candidate meets with others on your team. When working with your staff, demonstrate via your participation and interaction with them at “their” work-a-day level that you are vitally interested in what they are doing as employees and how they are faring as individuals.

Be Even Handed

Fairness rocks. When meeting and speaking with job seekers, take the time to give them a fair hearing and to make a careful assessment of their skills, attitudes and potential. When working with your employees, avoid playing favorites and consistently focus dispute and problem resolution on the “right thing to do.”


The reason why many people leave their companies is also the reason why many recruiting efforts fail – too little communication and feedback about where people stand and how they are doing. Take action to ensure that the candidates you may want to hire receive the information they need to feel comfortable with your company, your selling points and your hiring process. Likewise, keep your employees informed in as timely a manner as possible about key developments within your team, department, areas of responsibility and organization.

According to Harvill, these five principles, along with the actions they engender, will help you develop a unified strategy for hiring your best candidates and retaining your best employees. Jon Harvill, C.P.C., is the President of Dunhill Search of West Atlanta, the leading Atlanta-based executive search firm specializing in LOGISTICS and MATERIAL MANAGEMENT executives. Jon serves on the board of directors of both APICS Atlanta and NAPM West Georgia If you are interested in learning how you can use a professional search firm to identify the best candidates for your organization, click on

family business blog archive Family Business Experts Understands
Family Values and Business Systems

Return from Family Business Blog Archive to
Family Business Experts Home Page