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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

Monday, December 06, 2021
        We did it! The 2021 UNI Family Business Conference is in the books. With it being the season of Thanksgiving, I thought I would start out my column with some notes of thanks.    First, a huge thank you to the EFCO Corporation family. Their space at the EFCO Forming & Shoring Institute is amazing, and we were so grateful to have the Jennings/Walters family as our host this year. Another huge thank you to Craig Culver, of Culver’s Restaurants, and Tom Hubler, of Hubler for Business Families, Inc., for their time and willingness to share insights with our members.    Our sponsors were incredible as well and I want to thank all of them, especially our title sponsor BrownWin... Read More
Monday, November 22, 2021

By Katie Kreis Photographs by Ricki Alford and Katie Kreis

When you bite into Lagomarcino’s chocolate, you’ll find rich cream, bright mint or maybe even caramel. The excellence of their business is no accident—the Lagomarcino family has been perfecting their craft for over 100 years.

Founded by Italian immigrants Angelo and Luigia Lagomarcino in 1908, the shoppe originally offered ice cream sodas, malted milks, specialty sundaes and assorted food to everyone who passed through downtown Moline, Illinois. All the while, their family lived above the store so they could come down and help at a moment’s notice.

“For not being an educated man, my grandfather com... Read More

Thursday, November 18, 2021

By Dan Beenken

We had a great turnout and another awesome session this past week. Huge thank you to our panelists, Dave Davis, chief executive officer of Spahn and Rose Lumber Co.; Rob McDonald, chief executive officer of A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co.; and Scott Sernett, chief executive officer of Vizalex. I also want to thank everyone who joined us Oct. 15 for our second Virtual Breakfast Series session of the 2021-2022 season!

As I always try to do with our Virtual Breakfast Series sessions, I wanted to put together the top three nuggets of knowledge that I took away:

Retention starts with a competitive base. Before you spend any time setting up retention pay and tools, it... Read More
Thursday, November 18, 2021

By Katie Kreis

Three of Iowa’s leading multi-generational family businesses are partnering to build a feed mill unlike any other, positioning Iowa at the forefront of agricultural education and food production in the world. Kent Corporation, Sukup Manufacturing Co. and Todd & Sargent each contributed significantly to create the Kent Corporation Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex at Iowa State University (ISU).

“The desires and dietary requirements of a growing world population will require innovative products and technology solutions,” said Gage Kent, chairman of the Board of Directors and chief executive... Read More

Friday, October 08, 2021

Craig Culver, of the restaurant franchise that bears his last name, will headline the University of Northern Iowa Family Business Conference, presented by BrownWinick Law Firm, on Nov. 11. Hosted at Economy Forms Corporation (EFCO) in Des Moines, this one-day event will tackle the inner workings of family businesses with multiple breakout sessions and keynote addresses from industry experts. UNI Family Business Program members receive two complimentary tickets with a fee of $75 per each additional attendee. Non-member tickets are $175 per attendee.

“I’m thrilled to be sharing the Culver’s story,” said Culver, co-founder and chairman of the board at Culver’s. “I’ve always believed... Read More

Thursday, October 07, 2021
By Dan Beenken   First, I just want to thank everyone who joined us for our first session of the 2021-2022 Virtual Breakfast Series season! Chris Vernon, CEO and president of Vernon Company, and Tom Houser, an attorney at Dentons Davis Brown, presented “Dividing Family Estates Without All the Family Stress.” We had another great crowd and look forward to continuing to see you and your families at future events, including our upcoming inaugural UNI Family Business Conference presented by BrownWinick Law Firm.   Our panelists covered several estate planning areas including special covenants, corporate trustees, using multiple executors, share class realignment and so much more. Much discus... Read More
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
By Katie Kreis, UNI Family Business Center  

Company: Weiler, Inc.Business: Designs, engineers and manufactures equipment for the paving marketHeadquarters: Knoxville, IowaFounded: 2000 by Pat WeilerEmployees: 500

As Weiler, Inc. wrapped up its Family Day event this year, its stakeholders saw the direct benefit of celebrating employees’ families and engaging them directly with the family business. Megan Weiler Green, counsel, engineering manager and president of the Weiler Foundation, originally thought Family Day would be a one-time thing. Since the second event on Aug. 20, it has proven to be a resounding success.

“Being a family-run business, it’s important f... Read More

Wednesday, June 16, 2021
by Dan Beenken  

First, I just want to thank everyone who joined us for Session 5 – our last session of the 2020-2021 Season!  We had another great crowd and look forward to continuing to see you and your families at future events – including our upcoming Family Host with Fareway in Boone! 

We had a great panel of business families and consultants engaging with our members – covering all sorts of areas of family governance from policies to vision, legacy, and where to start with all of this.    

As I always try to do with our Breakfast Series sessions, I wanted to put together my top 3 “Nuggets of Knowledge” that I took away:

The Journey IS the Destination – Deve... Read More
Friday, April 23, 2021

Setting goals is a catalyst for success, especially if you’re planning for the future of your ownership and the success of your business. The strongest goals tend to have five aspects that help you guide the process for achieving them. In other words, when you set goals, you want to set SMART goals:


Let’s look at how each of these aspects can help you create goals that let you plan for the future of your ownership more successfully.

Specific Goals Inspire Action

Though it can be challenging, setting specific goals allows you to act on them. Consider the difference between a vague goal and a specific goal.

V... Read More