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Tuesday, January 03, 2023

By Dan Beenken

The estate planning process is so often just about the physical stuff. Who gets the stuff and who doesn’t?

It’s always a big part of a family’s generational succession plan. Deciding who gets your old baseball cards or convertible is certainly important, but it's not the only way you can direct your legacy. In fact, it's really not even the most critical part… at least it shouldn’t be.

Often overlooked and forgotten are the more important, intangible parts of your legacy planning. An ethical will is a way to document the why, how and who of your life, plus what you want future generations to know and learn from you. It’s the core of who you are, repr... Read More

Tuesday, December 06, 2022



By Erin Carew


Cabin Coffee gives customers the ultimate Northwoods experience no matter where the store is. Originating in downtown Clear Lake, Brad and Angie Barber, with their children Robert and Abbie by their side, started the shop to give locals quality coffee and a place to gather at their log cabin right by the lake.


It all started with a Sunday drive

... Read More
Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Whew!!! We just wrapped up our Second Annual Iowa Family Business Conference, so it's time to write the Second Annual “What I learned” takeaway post.

We are so grateful to all of our attendees and speakers who made our Conference such a rewarding experience.

One thing I love about our conference and programs, in general, is the mix of viewpoints, perspectives, and generations we have involved. That diversity of thoughts and lenses of view is so helpful in moving families forward.

One of those perspectives was shared by our keynote, former President and CEO of the McIlhenny Company, Tony Simmons. When asked about how a business survives to the 5th, 6th, and 7th gene... Read More

Thursday, November 03, 2022

By Dan Beenken

I love the honesty and passion our panel speakers continue to bring to the Virtual Breakfast Series. And it isn’t just them ­– our members are always willing to share and that makes for an amazing program. It also makes writing my “3 Things I Learned” so easy to put together.

Our session last week was on Translating Family Values into the Family Business. How do you identify and then put your values into action? How do you make them more than words on the wall of your lobby? How do you use them as a rallying point for your family – especially as you grow?

Without further ado, my top three takeaways:

Values Through Stories Paul Darley, President... Read More
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Lisle Corporation: Adapting and innovating throughout six generations

In 1903, Mary Landhuis’ great-great-grandfather, C.A. Lisle, purchased a foundry and named it after his family: Lisle Corporation. Six generations and 119 years later, the business looks a little different than when it first started.

The first services produced by the Clarinda-based company consisted of lawnmowers, well drills, washing machines and many other seasonal products. Along with the production of these seasonal goods, the family also had an automotive dealership. As luck would have it, the same year that Lisle Corp. was born, Ford came out with the Model T. With this newly—albeit poorly—c... Read More

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