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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

By Dan Beenken

Another season of the UNI Family Business Center is in the books. Just like generational family businesses, we continue to transition from one year to the next. We look back at our last year of programming and think about what is to come. 

This past year was massive for our program as we were awarded Center status thanks to the Iowa Board of Regents. It showed how far our program has come and how much need there is across Iowa for family business-focused services. 

We also launched our first Iowa Family Business Conference. To those who were able to make it, thank you so much! To those that missed it, have no fear – we will b... Read More

Monday, May 23, 2022
By Dan Beenken   On May 20, we heard from panelists Dennis Jaffe, Meghan Juday and Mike Klauer about the longevity of family-owned businesses. In case you missed our last Virtual Breakfast Series of the 2021-22 program season, here are my top three takeaways from the session.   Stewardship vs. Ownership This is a bit subtle in semantics but the definitions are powerfully different. Families with 100-year-old firms think of themselves as stewards of the business first and owners second. Longevity and leaving things better than they’ve found it is directly intertwined into the concept of stewardship.   Professionalization – 100-year-old firms are associated with families who continue to... Read More
Wednesday, April 13, 2022

By Katie Kreis

The mission at Eldon C. Stutsman Inc. (Stutsman’s) is “to serve for success,” a motto that shines through from how they interact with customers to employee satisfaction and leadership values. Located in Hills, the multigenerational family business began in 1934 when Eldon C. Stutsman started a milk route that soon became an opportunity to transport supplies to and from town. According to Stutsman’s, the business is now Eastern Iowa’s largest supplier of agricultural products, retail and wholesale.

Internally, Stutsman’s is serving up success to its next generation of leaders.

... Read More
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
By Dan Beenken   Our last Virtual Breakfast Series session of the 2021-22 program year is going to focus on the Century Club! Rather, the session will feature business families that have longevity beyond 100 years.   How have they done it? What does the secret sauce look like? How can our family learn from what has helped others last so long?   We will have family members from a couple of those Century Club businesses on our panel. In addition, Dennis Jaffe, author of "Resilience of 100-Year Family Enterprises," (see "Bonus Content" below for a special workshop offer) will speak on what he has learned as a researcher and consultant with family businesses.  ... Read More
Wednesday, March 23, 2022

By Dan Beenken

Succession planning is such a vital part of all family businesses that we are devoting a regular column to it. In the first articles about retirement, I spent time discussing ways that the current generation can find ways to begin the process.  

I want to turn to a specific item on the checklist that I see as vital for a family to move from generation one to generation two (or generations three, four or five, for that matter... Read More

Friday, March 04, 2022
By Dan Beenken   I had this book sitting on my desk for a few months, thinking I would eventually put it on a shelf with about 30 others I haven’t read.  But January in Iowa this year turned out to be cold enough to force me to do some reading. The weather and delays with Ozark season four were just enough to put reading a book or two on my list. (That doesn’t say much for Iowa’s winters, I guess.)   Tom Hubler’s “The Soul of Family Business” was the no. 1 pick for me, and I had interest in reading it after hearing his presentation at last year’s conference.   Here were some of my big takeaways for how it might help your business family: Develop a common f... Read More
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
By Dan Beenken

Last time we talked, we discussed the need to have something to retire to—something new to provide you with meaning and challenges and attempt to match the fulfillment you’ve gotten from being a business owner all these years.

My friend Tom Hubler has devoted his career to business families and has his own company. In his book "The Soul of Family Busines," he spends considerable time discussing some of the ways business owners, founders or outgoing family leaders can work on their next phase. For anyone who falls in those three categories, we can apply something Tom calls the entrepreneur’s checklist. I really like it for a variety of reasons, but two... Read More

Thursday, February 17, 2022
  By Dan Beenken

Today, I’m going to talk about the “R” word. (No, not raisins—yuck!) Retirement: the final frontier!

When we hear of someone’s retirement, many will ask, "What are you retiring from?" For the next couple of paragraphs, I want to flip that a bit. What are you retiring TO? This is the question to be asking, and the question all business owners need to take the time to process. 

What am I going to do next? How will I make this next stage of my life meaningful to me? Where will I find purpose?  What will I enjoy?  What will get me out of the house and keep my spouse off my case? ... Read More
Thursday, February 03, 2022
By Dan Beenken   If our work with family-owned companies has taught us anything (other than communication is key), it's that succession planning stirs the drink of every business family. Thus, we focus a session of our Virtual Breakfast Series program every year on succession planning. (And we also focus one on healthy communication.)   Last Friday we had another great session with one of our largest crowds to date. One of the rewarding things for our team was hearing from a panelist on how our programming has helped his family progress as a business family. It is always so cool to see the fruits of our labor and how it directly impacts our members in such positive ways!   I hope you c... Read More
Tuesday, January 18, 2022

By Dan Beenken

It’s a common refrain that Millennials need constant feedback and praise. I’m not here to discuss the validity of this statement or debate whether that is good or bad. Rather, I’d like to just say that I think everyone enjoys feedback—and obviously the positive kind. We all want to hear that what we are doing is making a difference, having an impact, and, most of all, that we and our efforts are appreciated.  

I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t like to hear gratitude for their efforts. With that as a baseline assumption, my experience working with business families has shown that this simple act is often severely lacking for many families—especially family... Read More

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