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Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Fall isn’t here quite yet, but its close. And along with it comes our second Iowa Family Business Conference, powered by the University of Northern Iowa Family Business Center. Our first try at this last fall was such a cool event—seeing families interact with each other, sharing stories and advice, hearing from some really cool family business owners, and—of course—some Culver’s custard to close it out!

In thinking about what we have planned this year, it will be building on much of that success and continuing to grow our community of and for Iowa's family-owned companies.

Without further ado, my top five reasons for attending this year:

5. Great speakers... Read More

Thursday, September 01, 2022

By Dan Beenken

Whew! The first session of our Virtual Breakfast Series is in the books and it was a big one!

We tackled family communication right out of the gate this year. It's such a critical issue – in my opinion, the most important of all family business topics. If you can’t talk to each other in a productive way, you aren’t going to make any progress on anything else anyway.

It was such an amazing session – lots of great ideas on how to have these crucial conversations. As I always do, I wanted to share my takeaways. I would also encourage you to leave any of yours as well in the comments section. 

Without further ado, my list of lessons learned:

... Read More
Wednesday, August 10, 2022

We are “kicking it up a notch” this year with our Family Business Center and I am excited to get the new season of programming rolling. The “kicking it up a notch” theme is going to show itself at our annual conference in November… and there will be plenty more on that to come. But just know that it’s a nod to our keynote this year and their family’s incredible business.

For now, I wanted to welcome you to a new year of expanded programming here at the FBC!  We kick off the new year with the first session of the Virtual Breakfast Series. We are getting right into it too, with this one focused on conflict and having those difficult conversations with your family. I can already feel... Read More

Thursday, July 14, 2022

We’ve reached the unofficial halfway point of summer as the 4th of July has passed us by. It's been hot, it's been wet, it's been windy. I guess it's been Iowa. In a few weeks, the kids will be back in school, the Twins will be well on their way to the AL Pennant (I hope) and our next year of UNI Family Business Center season will be kicking off!

... Read More
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

Thursday, June 02, 2022

By Dan Beenken

Our last Breakfast Series session focused on how to have tough conversations as a family.  We drew a lot on the concept that difficult topics often get swept under the rug until they become giant “Jerry Springer moments” with our business family.

I wanted to take a minute to reflect on some things I learned from our panelists (Heidi Vermeer-Quist of VQ Consult and Warren Jacobs and Warren Phillips of Transformative Workplace Solutions).  So here are some thoughts, in no particular order:

1.  Start with YOURSELF      

The ability to have a crucial conversation on a sensitive family business topic (Entitlement, Poor job performance, Compensatio... 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