Family Business Center

At the University of Northern Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa Family Business Center offers a comprehensive suite of programs and services to Iowa’s family-owned companies. Family firms face a unique set of challenges and opportunities including succession planning, next generation development, governance and other issues impacting the longevity of the firm. We provide consulting, peer learning, events and networking opportunities to members.

Local families. Global impact.


Businesses change leadership and update their business model all of the time. It can be difficult. Now imagine you're navigating employee satisfaction or developing a new product with your brother, aunt, cousin or father-in-law. These situations are not easy, but we're here to help you through roadblocks so that both your business and your family can achieve long-term success. And why? Because your family's business has an impact on both the community that surrounds you and the world.

V‌isit Italy in 2025

We're taking UNI students AND Iowa families to visit Iowa's manufacturers and business extensions all over Italy in May of 2025! During the two-week course, we'll be touring businesses, learning about the culture and experiencing Italy. View the first informational session on YouTube (download the PowerPoint) and register for the second informational session happening Oct. 8, at noon.

Email for more information.

Custom Programs

Speak with our expert consulting team to build a program that supports your unique family business.

Conflict Resolution

In today's complex business landscape, family enterprises often encounter intricate conflicts that require specialized resolution techniques. Our consulting service specializes in resolving conflicts within family businesses. We employ tailored conflict resolution techniques, addressing intricate disputes with a focus on both interpersonal dynamics and professional intricacies. Our experienced team offers expertise in mediation, communication, and conflict resolution methodologies. Through collaborative processes, we identify underlying issues and develop sustainable solutions, ensuring a harmonious balance between family relationships and business success. From succession planning challenges to intergenerational conflicts, our services aim to foster a healthy business environment, providing families with the tools to navigate complexities and thrive together.


The issue of family compensation in a family business is often a controversial one. Should the system be based on family values, where all family members are paid equally regardless of position? Or should there be.a market value system in which a fair wage is based on education, responsibilities and performance? The UNI Family Business Center understands that these are complex systems, and we can help you establish and navigate a healthy family compensation policy.

Cousin Consortium

A cousin consortium is a stage within a family business. Through concession, an entrepreneur/controlling owner passes down the enterprise to their children (sibling partnership), who in turn hand the reigns to the third generation. In this third stage, it is typically several cousins who are responsible for the management and operations of the business and/or hold company shares. Cousin consortium challenges include transfer of power, interpersonal relationships, inequitable balance of authority, and ineffective governance structures. Together, your family will work with the UNI Family Business Center to plan succession transitions, have tough conversations, and ensure the family and business are successful.

Facilitation of Family Meetings

Sometimes it works best to have a third party in the room when emotions are high or big decisions are being made. The UNI Family Business Center can be that neutral meeting organizer who runs the agenda, brings outside perspective, and facilitates the family through tricky bypasses.

Female Successors

Women are increasingly at the forefront of family businesses, with active roles as financiers, planners, innovators, leaders, presidents and CEOs. Families must support female successors to become strong leaders, a role that is critical during transitions because this is a time where leadership is fragile and uncertain, plus it inherently comes with emotional turmoil for family and nonfamily employees. Let the UNI Family Business Center support you as you transition your business to the next generation.


Governance is a broad term for a set of established guiding principles that benefit all stakeholders of an organization. When it's done effectively, governance in a family business is driven by strong family and corporate ethics, accountability and transparency. The UNI Family Business Center can help your family business create policies that will allow you to meet business objectives more easily and create a foundation of success for generations to come.

Leadership Development

Over the next 15 years, 75% of the world's family business leaders will retire. Is your next generation ready? With this significant turnover in management, leadership development programs for succession candidates are more necessary than ever. The UNI Family Business Center has peer groups for current leaders, next generation leaders, and retiring leaders. Plus, we offer personalized leadership development to help your next generation prepare for business leadership.

Legacy Planning

When are you going to retire? What will you fill your days with? How will you transition your business to the next generation? These are all questions that need answers long before you hang up your hat. Through our Legacy Peer Group, a partnership with Foster Group's experts, and personalized planning support, we can help you navigate the planning of and transition into this "third phase."

Sibling Rivalry

Within a family-owned business, siblings who learn to manage personal issues can become very close, turning the relationship into a business asset. Statistics show, however, that when siblig relationships transgress into sibling rivalry (often after a parent dies or retires), this dissention can be dangerous for the health of the organization as a whole. How can siblings in a family business learn to manage their relationships and not turn into a statistic? Let us help you navigate these tricky waters with personalized programs for your situation.

Succession Planning

Succession planning is a critical aspect of business longevity, yet many families find themselves unprepared for this inevitable challenge. We recognize the importance of taking control of your business's destiny. Discover the key elements that contribute to a healthy and sustainable succession plan tailored to your business. By proactively addressing this crucial aspect, you not only secure the future of your enterprise but also foster a legacy that endures through generations.


Thank you to our Founding Families and Partners!

BrownWinick Law FirmfarewayFoster GroupRSMVermeer Corporation