Family business owners and stakeholders gathered at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in Tampa, Fla., for Transitions East 2015, the 10th conference in the Transitions series of family-to-family educational events. Transitions East 2015, held March 25-27, drew 265 participants, representing 85 family enterprises. Two-thirds of the attendees were first-time Transitions conference participants. The theme of Transitions East 2015 was "Family Values and the Valuable Family Business."
An optional introductory session, "Family Business Basics," was presented during the afternoon of Wednesday, March 25, and was open to first-time Transitions attendees and others who wanted to brush up on family business terms and concepts. Speaking at this pre-conference session, which also included tips on how to get the most out of the Transitions experience, were Peter Begalla, Family Business Magazine's conference and education director; Nancy Drozdow, principal and vice president, CFAR; and Scott A. Winget, senior managing director, Center for Wealth Impact, Ascent Private Capital Management.
What do we stand for?
The conference officially opened on Wednesday evening with a panel discussion entitled "Establishing and Living the Values of the Family." Panelists spoke about how mission, vision and values statements have guided their families. Carrie Freeman-Parsons, vice chair, The Freeman Company; Grant Lundberg, CEO of Lundberg Family Farms; Tim Clemens, Team Member Care and Connection, The Clemens Family Corporation; and Mike McKee, president and CEO of McKee Foods, served as panelists. The moderator was Jonathan Flack, assurance partner at PwC.
Following the panel presentation, Charles S. Luck IV, third-generation president and CEO of The Luck Companies, delivered the opening keynote address, "How Values-Based Leadership Changed the Shape of the Company." A welcome reception followed Luck's address.
Managing and preventing conflict
Thursday, March 26 began with a keynote address by Cindi Bigelow, president and CEO of Bigelow Tea. The title of her talk was "Igniting Your Organization with Mission and Values."
The first panel session of the day focused on the sensitive topic of "How to Separate Family and Business Issues." Panelists spoke about their strategies for preventing, resolving and growing from disagreements within the family over business issues. Serving on the panel were Heidi Nunnemacher, board member, Galland Henning Nopak Inc.; Andrew Pitcairn, family council chair, Pitcairn; Joshua Nacht, board member, Bird Technologies; and Michael R. Kiolbassa, president, Kiolbassa Provision Company. Jill Shipley, managing director, Family Dynamics and Education, Abbot Downing, moderated the panel.
"Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Family Tradition" was the focus of a session moderated by Joe Schmeider, principal of the Family Business Consulting Group. Speakers were Nancy P. Bruns, chair, Investment Committee, Dickinson Company; Drew Everett, director of shareholder relations and human resources, Bush Brothers & Company; and Elizabeth Rees, founder, Chasing Paper.
After lunch on Thursday, conference attendees broke up into small groups to address areas of special interest. Lloyd E. Shefsky, founder and co-director of the Kellogg School of Management's Center for Family Enterprises, facilitated a session on sibling relationships. Dirk Jungé, chairman of Pitcairn, facilitated the group that discussed cousin relationships. Daisy Medici, managing director of family governance and education at GenSpring, facilitated the small-group discussion on parent/child relationships. Mark Haranzo and David Guin, partners at Withers Bergman LLP, were facilitators of the session on marrying in to the family business.
"The Effective Family Employee" was the focus of a breakout session facilitated by Anna Nichols, director of communications, Altair Advisers LLC. Doug Baumoel, founder and president, Continuity Family Business Consulting, facilitated a session that addressed succession planning. Doug Pugliese, director, Wealth Transition Strategies, at SEI Private Wealth Management, was the facilitator of a session centered on wealth management. A session devoted to "Family Business Governance Basics" was facilitated by F. Douglas Raymond III, partner, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, and a session on "Raising Capital for Growth" was facilitated by Meghan Higney, investor, The Tugboat Group.
The focus sessions were repeated on Friday morning, enabling attendees to participate in sessions addressing two different topics.
After the breakout sessions, a panel session tackled the topic of "Developing Family and Business Leaders." Panelists discussed training and mentoring family members for a range of roles within the family enterprise, including family council chair, member of the board of directors and family foundation director. Serving on the panel were Jack Wilder, family council president, E. Ritter & Co.; Jamie Tucker, family council member, IDEAL Industries; and Molly Heaney, co-chair, family council board, The J.M. Huber Company. The moderator of the session was Rhona Vogel, CEO and founder, Vogel Consulting.
In the late afternoon, optional breakout sessions were offered, enabling attendees with similar interests to share their challenges and ideas. Stephanie Brun de Pontet, senior consultant at the Family Business Consulting Group, and Shannon Zur, family office director at Vogel Consulting, facilitated sessions for family council leaders and members. William P. Amerine, managing director, Strategic Relationships, at Ascent Private Capital Management, and Jill Shipley from Abbot Downing facilitated sessions for next-generation family members.
Bryant W. Seaman III, managing director and head of Private Asset Advisory Services at Bessemer Trust, facilitated a breakout group focused on the concerns of non-family executives. Jonathan Flack, assurance partner, PwC, facilitated a session for members of the senior/managing generation, and Debbie Bing, principal at CFAR, facilitated a session for married-ins.
On Thursday evening, conference attendees enjoyed a group dinner at the Rusty Pelican, a family-owned restaurant. John D. Tallichet, chairman of Specialty Restaurants Corporation, the Rusty Pelican's owner, spoke to the group.
From managing to owning
Friday, March 27, began with small-group focus sessions on family relationships (siblings, cousins, parent/child and married-ins), "The Effective Family Employee," succession planning, wealth management, "Family Business Governance Basics" and "Raising Capital for Growth."
A panel presentation entitled "From Managing the Business to Owning the Enterprise" centered on diversifying family holdings as well as appointing non-family managers to run the legacy company. Panelists were Dan Agnew, president, The Agnew Company; Chris Martens, director, Martens Automobile Dealership Group; and Eric Allyn, board member, Welch Allyn. Donna Trammell, managing director and director of Family Wealth Stewardship at Bessemer Trust, was the moderator.
Richard K. Smucker, CEO of The J.M. Smucker Company, delivered Transitions East 2015's closing keynote address. He discussed how "being purpose-driven" has helped his company to grow.
After Smucker's speech, Robert H. Rock, president and CEO of MLR Holdings LLC, whose holdings include Family Business Magazine, closed out the conference with a summary of the key takeaways.
The Platinum sponsor of Transitions East 2015 was PwC. The conference's Gold sponsors were Bessemer Trust, Abbot Downing, Vogel Consulting and Ascent Private Capital Management. Silver sponsors were The Family Business Consulting Group, CFAR, GenSpring Family Offices and The Tugboat Group. Bronze sponsors were Altair Advisers, Pitcairn, Withers Bergman LLP, the Kellogg School of Management Center for Family Enterprises, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, SEI Private Wealth Management and Continuity Family Business Consulting. The Supporting sponsor was Ballentine Partners. Transitions East 2015 was presented in association with Stetson University.
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