Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Women In Family Business

Comment on this subject for a free book (2 available)
As you might imagine there are a hundreds of blogs, Linkedin groups, websites dedicated to family businesses.  There are several that I follow and sometimes get really caught up in. 

Recently there has been lots of discussion on women in family business.  Of course there have been books written on this and research done on this etc.  However I have been having a hard time grabbing onto it.  I keep wondering why is there so much to talk about?  How different is a capable women from a capable man?  Shouldn’t the question be is the person qualified not what gender is the person?  I know I know in a perfect world right?  I guess my real question is what is all the talk about?  From what I see of the NYFBC membership we have just as many women as active members as men.  In fact five of our board members are women in family business. 

I guess I need to keep following these blogs and threads on Linkedin to understand more of the differences as it has been suggested by someone that I start a women in family business roundtable at the NYFBC (this suggestion came from a man though) but I just don’t have enough information to pull it off.  And I am not sure that I would want to separate the women and men as they seem to communicate and interact very well in the current roundtable situation.   Okay, so maybe I should just try one event and see what happens right?  Here goes, I am preparing to have a family business luncheon in April for just women.  Next item, what are we going to talk about?

The research is proving to be interesting as I read the comments from other countries.  It seems the one I am following now which was started over a month ago is talking about the women having the soft skills for the family business.  Well that seems like a touchy subject. 

Anita from United Kingdom starts this thread with -  In my opinion it's the women that make things happen in the family business when it comes to ironing out conflict and inter family relationships. So long as they have had a strong parent to mentor them as youngsters.

Several days and comments later from Kathleen in Louisville - I would caution against making too many generalities about the "nurturing" and relational qualities or "soft skills" of women. Not only are many women not possessive of these qualities, but many do not want to feel pushed into these types of gender roles simply because they have been told that all women are/should want to and be well suited for the role of counselor, nurturer, facilitator, etc,

While men and women commenting from different cultures does make for interesting reading I still don’t see the difference between men and women in the family business?  What am I missing?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Largest and Oldest New York Family Businesses

The Family Business Magazine publishes a list of America’s 100 oldest family businesses and 100 largest family businesses.  This list represents information about the family businesses that have made it through economic downturns, recessions and depressions.  A few have fallen off the list due to the economy and other situations but some are still going strong and stronger than ever.

Of course what I look for immediately is the New York businesses that may be included.  The list represents businesses that are over 155 years old.  I see nine of them from New York and yes some are agriculture and most based towards the New York City region.  However one we would all recognize is Harden Furniture Company coming in at #65.  In 1844 Charles Harden purchased a saw mill on Fish Creek and started bridge construction, today 5th generation Greg Harden is the CEO. 

A New York business that fell of this list recently due to it becoming less family controlled is Corning. Founded in 1851 and went public in the 1940’s and according to  this issue of the Family Business Magazine the Houghton family’s ownership stake is down to only 2%.

Now on to the largest Family Businesses on this list once again I turn to New York. Thirteen this time!   Again of course downstate is represented pretty extensively.  But a few I know we enjoy are listed and one of our favorites and a sponsor of the New York Family Business Center Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., which comes in at #50.  #75 The Golub Corp  (Price Chopper), Constellation Brands Inc. out of Victor and #84 Rich Products out of Buffalo.   Hats off to New York State Family Businesses!

I know,you want to know the #1 for both lists. 

Walmart comes in as the largest family business in America with Ford not to far behind but of course they are both public companies.  For privately held family businesses according the Family Business Magazine would be Cargill Inc. coming in overall at #3.  Cargill founded in 1865, located in MN and controlled by fourth generation.

I bet you would all guess the oldest family business would be agriculture.  Well you are close that would be #2 in Virginia, and #3, 4 and 5.  However the number one oldest is a Cymbal maker out of Norwell Mass.  Avedis Zildjian Co. (don’t ask me to pronounce that) founded in 1623.  The fifteenth generation is involved in this company.  Wow. 

Well I’m not sure if all of you are interested in more information but I find it very interesting and would be glad to share more information out of this issue with you.   Maybe we should play trivia at one of our events.

Give thanks to all our Veterans today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Strength In Numbers

This month our next generation roundtable was facilitated by Mike D’eredita from The Leading Element.  He led a conversation on how important collaboration is in all business but possibly maybe more so in upstate New York.  Since we have started the NYFBC I have seen some new collaboration and probably some rekindled ones.  Quite frankly this basically is the building blocks of the New York Family Business Center.  The  NYFBC believes our biggest resource is you.  We offer the opportunities for peers in different industries come together and talk about anything they want.  Mike talked about taking it further then the roundtables and meetings and possibly lunch one on one and talk about ideas.  You never know where the next big idea comes from!  

“Are there really any new ideas, how are ideas formed, where do they come from how do they develop?  All questions that bring us back to collaboration.  Take four minutes and watch this video it says it all.  Maybe this will start some new conversations of your own.

 Business is increasingly competitive and requires all approaches to connect.  We have all spent so many years establishing connections now it might be time to decide who else you need to connect with, or how you want to capitalize on the connections you already have.

Join in the conversation Wednesday, November 16th Family Business Breakfast Forum at Justin’ Tuscan Grill.  Navigating Awkward Conversations!  See you there!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Evaluating Your Company Culture

This week I attended three great events: a webinar on succession planning; a roundtable about fraud in privately owned businesses and the Centerstate CEO Economic Champions luncheon.  Thinking back on all three of these events they all mentioned and showed some common themes; loyalty, culture and communication.  Obviously there was much substance to each event but I found it interesting that some of the same thoughts and statements came up.

The webinar presented by Family Business Consulting Group out of Chicago was titled “Passing the Baby:  The 8 Must Haves of Successful Succession Planning”.  Just the title sets the tone of how founders and/or the current generation feel about their family business.  This is their creation; they care deeply about their company and their loyal employees.  They may not believe that anyone else can adequately be prepared to continue it.  How do they get past this belief?    One of the “must haves” is communication.  Business owner have hopes and goals of what they want for themselves, their family and for their business and must communicate these.  Communication can define the culture that is in your business and family.  Establishing a culture that employees and family members feel as they are valued and respected can engage them in the success and continuation of the business.

The fraud roundtable presented by Rosa Pinti, CPA, CFE  from Bowers & Company CPA's also touched on the importance of this loyal and respected culture in privately held businesses.  How this type of culture might help reduce fraud in the workplace by a few percentage points.  The roundtable group offered that even the small things and gestures have helped them in their business and much of it was about how they have communicated to their employees how important each of their employees are to the business; the sustainability of the business and the strength of the business. it all matters. 

Then I attended the Centerstate CEO Economic Champions; this was a great uplifting event for Central New York.  Doug Logan announced the names of the companies being celebrated while their employees sat at tables and cheered and waved the SU basketball clappers in the air.  The loyalty and honor felt by these people in the room showed how proud they are to work for these companies.  They showed their loyalty and their appreciation for the culture that they are part of.  As we all streamed out of the OnCenter we had a good feeling about our area knowing that these companies and many others are successfully achieving economic growth in our area.

Join us November 16th as we hold a breakfast forum at Justin’s Tuscan Grill presented by The Leading Element; “Navigating Difficult Conversations” Maybe we can help the communication efforts in your family business and help with your feel good culture!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Good News Reports - Schneider Packaging Co Inc.


Pack Expo Booth Las Vegas
 I would like to begin our family business good news reports with Schneider Packaging Equipment Co. Inc.  Erin Schneider, third generation at Schneider Packaging and I exchanged emails this past week and part of her email was “We are busier than ever, contracts in place all the way through 2012.  If you know any electric or mechanical engineers send them our way”.  Well this sounds like outstanding news to me in this economy.

They have just returned from the Pack Expo in Las Vegas.  This expo is the real deal.  It has more than 26,000 attendees, close to 2000 exhibitors and takes place in 630,000 square foot. WOW!   Schneider Packaging participates in this expo every year, it is a great place for them to win new customers and retain the current ones.  They participated in a packaging race which drew college students from all over the country to check out Schneider booth and inquire about this growing and innovative company.

Let me give you a little background.  In November of 2010 Richard (Dick) Schneider was one of our panelists at our innovations dinner seminar.  He was a big hit at this forum; he sat on the panel with Eileen Brophy; Brophy Services and Bill Byrne; Byrne Dairy. The three of them talked about the innovations that help sustain and grow their businesses.

Dick founded The Schneider Company in 1970 after wanting to use his designs for the equipment at the machinery firm he was working for.  He had so many innovative ideas that he persistently brought to the owner.   Fortunately for Dick the owner of the company decided against using his designs.  Well that paved the way for Schneider Packaging Equipment Co., Inc. which he founded in 1970.

Today they are located in Brewerton with over 200 employees, Rick Schneider second generation now President of the company with several other family members leads the company into the future with new inventions and designs.  They have received many awards including outstanding achievements awards from FANUC Robotics for outstanding robotic integration achievements; and a new patent in 2011 for Robotic multi product case packing system.   Congratulations to this growing family-owned business right here in Upstate New York.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wholesome, Quality, Continuity

Have you noticed lately the ads on TV and radio highlighting not only what the company sells or the services they offer but focusing on the fact that they are a family business, and for how many years; how many generations.  This phenomenon may have started with S.C. Johnson The Family Company but I have noticed it is rapidly seeping into our local family owned business advertisements.

Why are they doing this?  Basically it is about the title of this post.  These are the words that are associated with family owned businesses.  A research study that S.C. Johnson “The Family Company” partially funded at Oregon State University revealed that these are the first words that come to mind when you here family-owned business. 

Dr. Joanne Norton from the Family Business Consulting Group came to Syracuse in February of this year and held a forum for the New York Family Business Center specifically on this topic.  The research that Justin Craig, Clay Debrell and Peter Davis of Oregon State University conducted found that family businesses have a big advantage.  Their research not only shows that businesses that promote their “familiness” positively influence customers purchasing decisions but also lets us as the consumer feel you have a connection to this business because you also have a family.  It is something you feel you can trust.  Branding your business as a family business reminds consumers that there is a family behind the business and not a faceless corporate entity.   The authors note that family businesses are ultimately the backbone of most economies throughout the world, family businesses contribute to the economic and social fabric of their communities.  Family businesses are proud of what they do and what they contribute.  They also state “It is our belief, which is supported by our findings, that they should communicate this pride to their customers because as we have shown it does produce competitive advantages.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In my first blog post I feel that I should tell you about the New York Family Business Center.

The New York Family Business Center gives family owned business owners and managers opportunities to interact and learn from each other and from family business professionals. Members will develop the strategies and policies to achieve their goals and objectives.

The Center provides tools, resources, consulting, training, interaction, and education specific to family owned businesses in upstate New York in a nurturing and confidential environment.

The Center's activities are member driven enabling participants to gain intimate insight into key elements that create a successful multi-generational family business.

The Center partners with community leaders, organizations, colleges and universities to provide access, research and academic courses that are needed by family business owners. Local and nationally recognized professionals are brought into address specific topics pertaining to the success of a family owned business.

What is a family business you ask?  Well it is defined in so many different ways through the world we had to pick our own definitions.  Family members significantly affect direction & strategy of the business; Overlap in family, ownership and management; desire for continuity across the generations.  Does this sound like you?