Presented by The Family Business Consulting Group
Family Leaders to Watch
We celebrate those who work to bring family members together in support of the business.
All businesses need solid CEO talent, but multigenerational family businesses need another type of leadership as well. Someone (or several someones) must step up to unite the family and inspire them to work together in support of the family enterprise.
Once a business family reaches the third generation, odds are the family stakeholder group has expanded exponentially, which means factions are likely to form. There are bloodline descendants and married-ins, those who work in the business and those who don’t, and those who live in and away from the company’s hometown. Family members’ political and religious beliefs can differ. And, of course, there are generational differences, which can be further complicated if there is a wide age range within a single generation.
Disinterest in the enterprise or disharmony within the family over an extended period will impede family members’ ability to continue in business together. Ways to keep the family from splintering include establishing communication channels; developing policies to establish ground rules; educating stakeholders about the business; and creating opportunities for the extended family to get to know each other, have fun together or jointly contribute to a worthy cause.
Nominate your family leader
Nominations for the Class of 2019 are open! Use our nomination form to tell us about your family champions.
Family CEOs can lead these types of efforts — and some excel in this area — but often the business leader is too busy running the company to devote much time to family governance. This provides a chance for other family members to demonstrate their leadership capabilities.
In a large and diverse family, there are numerous jobs to do, which opens the door for multiple leaders to emerge. The family leaders profiled on the following pages exemplify how many ways there are to make a difference. With so many roles to fill, people with a wide variety of talents and interests can all contribute to the success of the family enterprise.
These efforts are often undertaken behind the scenes. In this special feature, we celebrate the people who work to perpetuate the continuation of their family’s shared enterprise.
Mary Schmid Daugherty
Crescent Electric Supply Co., East Dubuque, Ill.
Mary, a third-generation owner of Crescent Electric Supply, sits on the board of directors of the company, which serves the electrical, construction, commercial, industrial, utility and datacomm markets. She chairs the board’s governance committee and is a member of its compensation committee.
“Mary helped establish the Schmid Family Council 13 years ago,” says her cousin Kathy Munson, the family council chair. “She was instrumental in convincing our skeptical second-generation family members, who were our business leaders and management, that forming a family council was imperative if we wanted to continue as a family-owned business well into the future. She was also our first family council chair, bringing her skills and experience in corporate governance and family business along with her.”
Mary is the Family Business Center Senior Fellow in Applied Finance at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. She teaches courses at the undergraduate, graduate and executive levels in corporate finance, investments and family business and has done research on family and corporate governance. Since 1993, she has worked with family businesses on consulting assignments in finance and corporate governance. She is a coauthor of Family Business, 4th ed., and recently completed an online fifth edition of the book.
Currently, Mary serves as a liaison to her family, their company and its board in a project to gather historical information in preparation for Crescent Electric Supply’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2019. In coordination with the Crescent marketing team, “She has spent untold hours gathering, culling, organizing and drafting narratives incorporating public and family archives into 12 multimedia vignettes,” Munson says. One vignette is shared per month in the run-up to the 100th anniversary gala in April 2019 “to promote the company and its sales efforts, build pride internally among company employees, and pull together our wide and growing family.” Mary has also produced vignettes focused on family history that are shared among the family only and “are a tremendous source of family pride,” Munson says.
Mary notes that the monthly features highlight lessons from the company’s founder, her grandfather Titus B. Schmid. “It is inspiring to learn all he did to build the business, and then to read [his] recollection of his sons entering the business and building upon his legacy,” she says.
“I am so proud that my family business is in its 100th year of operation this year,” Mary says. “It is almost impossible to express the many emotions I feel as we celebrate this amazing milestone.”
ABC Recycling Company, Burnaby, BC
Karen, a fourth-generation owner of ABC Recycling, is the company’s manager of community relations. “Karen is very involved on behalf of our family and company in the community, especially with charity partners,” says her cousin David Yochlowitz, the CEO. “She is a tremendous ambassador for us.”
ABC Recycling, Western Canada’s largest scrap-metal recycling company, is a member of Family Enterprise Xchange (FEX), Canada’s national organization for family enterprises. She is the chair of FEX’s Vancouver region advisory board and serves on the national committee for family enterprise peer support groups. She is a member of a family enterprise advisory synergy group that meets bimonthly to share knowledge and best practices.
Karen initiated her family’s involvement with the Canadian Association of Family Enterprises, a precursor to FEX, in 2004. “This led to us using a family facilitator to help set up a proper governance structure for our family,” Yochlowitz says. “This helped considerably with the transition of ownership and company leadership from our third generation to our fourth generation.”
Karen has taken the lead on projects including the compilation and publication of a family history book in 2007, the organization of the company’s 100th anniversary events in 2012 and the production of a family history video. “I champion our family leadership development initiatives and coordinate all of our family council meetings, shareholder meetings and family assemblies,” she says.
“Karen has helped to keep our family story alive, helped to define and challenge us in living our family company values and helped to maintain our culture,” Yochlowitz says.
“I am passionate about perpetuating the legacy my great-grandparents and grandparents built over the years,” Karen says. “Their legacy of hard work, honesty and giving back to the community are guiding principles for our business today.
“I am often referred to as the ‘values-keeper’ of our organization, a role that I take great pride in. I am excited about the work that I do, both in the business and on the business. My generation is working very hard to pave the way for the next generation of leaders in our family enterprise.”
Jason C. Robinson
Kreamer Feed Inc., Kreamer, Pa.
Jason, a third-generation family member, is Kreamer Feed’s president. The company produces and delivers specialized feeds for animal farms. It also owns and operates more than 1,200 acres on 12 certified organic farms in Central Pennsylvania and is involved in poultry and livestock marketing and farm production.
Jason previously worked for MBNA America Bank and its successor, Bank of America, in a variety of roles. He moved back to Pennsylvania in 2012 to become the primary caregiver for his ailing grandfather, the founder of the business. At the same time, he became a member of Kreamer Feed’s management team, responsible for administrative functions. He was promoted to president on Dec. 1, 2014.
“Jason understands the way family members need to conduct themselves,” says Tony Chivinski, a consultant who has worked with him. “He knows how to model that behavior and instruct other generations, if you will, about that process.”
Chivinski says Jason has helped to mediate family disagreements. “Jason stepped up to the plate and said, ‘If there’s a family member who has a need or a concern, we want to listen to it.’ ”
Jason meets regularly with younger family members who work in the business to explain best practices and explore topics such as “What does a great employee look like? What does a great shareholder look like? How do we conduct ourselves so that we continue to develop rapport and respect from our employees and they continue to want to work here?” Chivinski says.
“Jason is educating them, and it’s not just by telling them things,” Chivinski says. “He’s engaging them in conversations. He’s getting their perspective.”
With Jason’s encouragement, the family engaged advisers to help address estate planning and other issues. “I see Jason as the one who is constantly reminding everybody, ‘Family is important. We want to be able to get together as a family and enjoy ourselves. We don’t want conflicts or disagreements over the business to get in the way of that,’ ” Chivinski says.
“Like many children, I grew up idolizing my grandfather,” Jason says. “The business he founded and that my family grew impacted more people than I could have imagined growing up. Certainly, our teammates depend on us for their livelihoods, but our role is bigger than that. Our family business is part of the food chain and helps feed people. It is not successful based upon the P&L, it is successful based upon doing the right thing, respecting our teammates and performing our very best to help feed people. I cannot think of anyplace that I would rather be.”
Flanagan Foodservice Inc., Kitchener, Ont.
Five years ago, Murray exited active employment in the main family business, where he had spent a 25-year career serving in a variety of roles. Murray maintains minority ownership in the business and participates as an adviser to the board of directors.
Flanagan Foodservice, in its second generation of family leadership, is Canada’s largest independent foodservice distributor. Murray worked alongside his three brothers to continue the trend of top-line growth year after year. He and two of his brothers transitioned out of their full-time roles at the same time; the eldest brother, Dan Flanagan, continues to serve as president and CEO of the family business.
Murray “remains keenly involved in the ownership group as well as our family, which includes four brothers and spouses, our mother, 10 children (Gen 3) and a few more significant others,” Dan says.
“Specifically, he has contributed in these ways: as the de facto leader of our real estate and holding companies; as the chair of our monthly shareholder meetings; as the champion of four successful family retreats as chair of the committee; as a champion for family businesses in general as a member of the national board of FEX [Family Enterprise Xchange, Canada’s national organization for family enterprises], an attendee of multiple Transitions conferences and participant in the inaugural Transitions Canada conference; and as a catalyst in encouraging broader connections and stronger relationships amongst all family members by hosting many family gatherings at his cottage and through other gatherings.”
“Having grown up in the family business, being at the intersection of family, business and ownership has been my normal for most of my life,” Murray says. “I was fortunate that my family had a foundation of values that allowed us to succeed [despite] the challenges that many face when sharing business responsibilities with siblings.
“For many years now, I have taken great pride in working with my family and other families in business together to slowly improve the statistics of success when faced with the complex dynamics when emotion and money can be opposing forces on a very regular basis.”
Canal Insurance Company, Greenville, S.C.
Brittany is a fourth-generation member of the family that owns Canal Insurance, an insurance company that focuses on trucking and specialty transportation. The family also owns Central Realty Holdings, a real estate investment and development firm. She is chair of the family council and is the first member of her generation to serve in that role.
“My focus is on continuing to establish and follow good governance processes, creating opportunities for everyone to share their perspectives, and including the fifth generation at our retreats,” she says.
Brittany also serves as the board liaison to the boards of both family companies. She works with the board chairs and CEOs of the two companies to improve communications to shareholders.
Brittany became a member of the family assembly in 2010, when the fourth generation was invited to join. In 2013, she began chairing the education committee. “In this role, I coordinated a weekend, on-site simulation course where family members worked in teams to run an insurance company,” she says. She joined the family council in 2016.
As family council chair, Brittany managed a successful family trip to Park City, Utah. More than 60 family members from the third, fourth and fifth generations went on the trip.
Christie Mullen, Brittany’s aunt, worked under Brittany’s leadership as a member of the committee that planned the trip. “I was amazed at her gifts to help me do the best job I could for the group,” Mullen says. She also cites Brittany’s skills in managing funds to achieve a reduction in spending compared with previous family trips. “Great memories were made” during the trip, Mullen says.
“Brittany is an excellent example of a family champion,” says Joshua Nacht, a consultant with The Family Business Consulting Group who has worked with the family. “She works very hard to advance and develop her family ownership group. Brittany pays close attention to setting agendas [and] disseminating information, and responds quickly to people’s inquiries.
“I see Brittany running efficient and productive family meetings, and she strikes a great balance between letting discussions develop and keeping the family on task.”
Before moving back to Greenville, Brittany worked in Chicago at Accenture Strategy; previously, she worked in Washington, D.C., at UBS. She earned an MBA with concentrations in finance, economics and strategic management from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
“At Chicago Booth, I was a member of the Family Business Group, where I met classmates with stories of siblings or cousins who could not make their businesses work,” she says. “My family’s businesses are currently in the third generation of majority ownership, and I do not want it to end there.
“I use my prior experiences in strategy consulting and private wealth management to help the family council and assembly make decisions. Like all family businesses, we have hot topics, but we work together effectively to move forward and make progress — something we hope to teach the next generation!”
Stewart Morris Jr.
Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Morris Family Trust and Stewart Security Capital, Houston, Texas
Stewart is senior chairman of Stewart Title Guaranty Company, a 125-year old real estate title company. Stewart Title is part of Stewart Information Services Corp., where Stewart is vice chairman. The enterprise, founded in 1893, became a public company in the 1970s.
Stewart Information Services shareholders have approved the company’s acquisition by Jacksonville, Fla.-based Fidelity National Financial Inc. The deal is expected to close by the second quarter of 2019.
“In recent years, we have formed several more private family businesses thanks to the efforts of several family members such as my father, Stewart Morris Sr., and two sisters, Lisa Simon and Carlotta Coffman,” Stewart says.
Stewart is a trustee of the Morris Family Trust, formed in 1992, which invests predominantly in real estate. He serves as managing partner of MFT Interests, the family company that manages the assets of the Morris Family Trust.
In addition, he is president of Stewart Security Capital, a private investment company formed in 2012 with investments in real estate, market securities, banking and rail. A percentage of its profits are invested back into the community.
Stewart started Stewart Security Capital for his children to run, Simon notes. The chairman is his daughter Faith. His other daughter, Grace, is the vice president of image and corporate secretary, and his son Stewart III serves as vice president of finance and investments while studying at Baylor University.
“Family businesses can be a foundation for education, vocational success, prosperity and family working relationships,” Stewart says. “America is built on families and family businesses, where faith, principles, character, skill, communication, teamwork and work ethic are nurtured. I have enjoyed greatly working with my family all my life, starting at age 10 in the family business, Stewart Title.”
“Stewart epitomizes a family leader,” says Simon.
Stewart started a family council. “He has tirelessly worked on implementing processes and procedure for MFT Interests as well as orchestrated and hosted our annual family gathering at Thanksgiving,” says Simon. “He is a master at organization.”
“Thanksgiving and reunions of the greater family have been enjoyable and a time to catch up with everyone,” Stewart says. “We welcome in new members of the family, talk about recent activity, share experiences and help in times of need, as well as take photos for everyone to share. We have videoed interviews with the older generation, sharing their early stories in life and experiences that we will save for posterity.
“We have a family history room at our home where we keep reference material on family history, but we need to do a lot more to grow the family tree and relate information about characters from our family past. In the history room we keep such things as letters written by family in the early 1900s, awards, books, pictures and more. It is a challenge to determine how to best use all these things, but at least we have it in a safe place!”
Leupold & Stevens Inc., Beaverton, Ore.
Joanna, a fifth-generation member of the Marcus Leupold Family, runs the family office at Leupold & Stevens, a 111-year-old company that makes precision optical instruments including rifle scopes, spotting scopes, binoculars, rangefinders, trail cameras and mounting systems for firearms as well as accessories. She is also a foundation member and a member of the events planning committee.
She began working at the company three years ago, supporting the human resources department. Two years ago, when the family office was started, she became the first person to manage it. The Leupold & Stevens family office supports communication and alignment among the shareholder group.
Her cousin Alexandra Burton, foundation treasurer and member of the events planning committee, says Joanna “has done an amazing job of taking on a brand-new concept and role. With the help of our family values committee, Joanna has built this position from the ground up and turned it into something that has become very beneficial for our shareholders.”
Burton notes, “The family office role puts Joanna in a position where she deals with both the good and the bad from all family groups. Being one of the most caring people I know, my cousin always makes a strong effort to hear all opinions and makes sure every voice is heard. Joanna handles all situations in a very professional manner, which we all know can sometimes be difficult when dealing with family.”
Joanna supports the family council by coordinating council meetings and working on special projects. She performs tasks within the family foundation. She also plans shareholder events such as the family assembly retreat and other educational forums.
“Joanna is a huge advocate for getting shareholders and other family members involved in both company and family activities,” Burton says. “She makes it a point to share important company news and dates of events, which she encourages the family to attend.
“Joanna has also created a family newsletter that highlights a wide variety of family news, such as graduation announcements, congratulations on new jobs, family members’ trips or fun activities they took part in, and the list goes on.
“She has been a great liaison between the company and the family, but also within the different groups as well. Our family is relatively large and spread out across the Pacific Northwest, with a few living outside the area, so this effort has been a fun way to keep the family connected.”
Joanna earned an M.A. degree in conflict management from Portland State University and wrote her thesis on conflict management within family businesses.
“Throughout my studies, I learned that successful family businesses have mechanisms in place to address conflict, plan for the future and [serve as] forums for open communication,” Joanna says. “Working with family in a business setting is challenging, and many family firms do not survive. Because of this, I am passionate about bridging educational gaps and facilitating ways for family members to work together as a team.
“With three family branches and close to 70 shareholders, this is not easy, but the work done now will help us pass the baton to future generations.”
Joseph C. Richert
Special Tree Rehabilitation System, Romulus, Mich.
“Joe represents the second generation of the Richert family enterprise; however, in many ways he is part of the founding generation,” says his son, Joseph Richert II. “Joe became president and CEO of Special Tree Rehabilitation System, the Richerts’ flagship business, early on and since has grown the company into a model system for post-acute neurological rehabilitation.
“Over the years, Joe has also expanded the family business into several different areas, including residential and commercial real estate development, automotive-mobility reengineering, and patient and product development for different supports for special-needs and geriatric populations.”
Joe was instrumental in forming the Richert Family Council, his son says. “He has established ongoing continuing education opportunities by bringing in different speakers to educate on issues like board development and family conflict resolution.”
Joe has also led social efforts, such as founders’ birthday celebrations and family trips, Joe II says. Under Joe’s leadership, the family is developing a NextGen entrepreneurial investment and education program and a family server/data portal that will give family members access to governance documents, family photos, social calendars, news updates and more.
“I am passionate about family business because, first and foremost, my family values and relationships are most important to me,” Joe says. “I often get the most excitement from the entrepreneurialism I help our family members engage in.
“My greatest sense of pride comes from the creative synergy we achieve with our family council meetings. There the different members get to strategize and discuss the direction of our businesses but also plan the execution of what needs to be done. I also am a lifelong student and love to facilitate different opportunities for leadership development and personal growth for our family.”
Joann Detwiler Bull
New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. Inc., New Enterprise, Pa.
Joann is a third-generation member of the family that owns New Enterprise Stone & Lime, a construction materials supplier and heavy/highway construction contractor in Pennsylvania and Western New York.
“I have not been employed in the company, yet always supported those family members who were, and realized as a daughter, sister, aunt, mother, wife and shareholder, I can help build the connections to the business so that we remain family-held and -influenced for generations to come,” Joann says.
“Joann saw her family drifting apart as it related to the business and overall communication and interaction among family members — something that had been gradually deteriorating over time,” says her husband, Robert Bull. “She decided to do something about it.”
“Holding a degree in sociology and an affinity for the power of creativity to connect people in new ways of thinking and acting, I realized my family had arrived at a transition period for needed change,” Joann says. “Our family who were not involved in the business were not connected directly to our past, not knowledgeable about the business today and not expressing interest in aligning around the future of our business. We needed new energy!
“I began with an oral history that highlighted and preserved the 90-plus years of New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. in the community as a substantial employer and steward. In developing the oral history, I realized that the importance of our business and our family in the community should not be casually valued.”
Joann asked several family members to join a task force. “Assisted by a consultant, through interviews, surveys and meetings, we determined that the family would benefit from the voice of the family to the board, management and owners,” she says.
“We formed a family council and developed a family constitution that was ratified in June 2018. At this year’s family assembly, we progressed on many fronts, including next-generation education on family business performance and activities. As a result, family committees were formed as we dive deeper into our potential to become an even more resilient, cohesive and purposeful business-owning family.”
“Needless to say, the overall atmosphere of the family has improved tremendously, which has melded nicely with the rebound the business has enjoyed as well,” Joann’s husband says. “Her never-say-die attitude has transformed the family as they head into the fifth generation.”
“I am honored that my family has had the confidence in me to be a family leader, and I know that the steps we are taking today will help realize our vision for the future,” Joann says.
Miller Foods Inc. and Oma’s Pride, Avon, Conn.
Miller Foods, founded by Capri’s grandparents, Earl and Margaret Miller, produces poultry products and distributes gourmet food items. Oma’s Pride, founded in 2001, is a pet food company that produces all-natural food, treats, supplements and chews for dogs and cats.
Capri’s mother, Sandi Trudeau, took over the company after her parents died. She ran the company along with her sister, Carolyn Miller-Stevens.
Capri “successfully navigated the transition of the second generation while bringing in the fourth generation,” says Robin Ann Bienemann, entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of Connecticut. “Capri has been integral in leading this fourth-generation family business into the future.”
“We were at a tipping point, and I recognized that, with multiple generations working in the family business, we were highly challenged by the generational differences,” Capri says. “My mother worked for more than 60 years in our business and was at a point that she was no longer able to meet the demands of the day-to-day operations.
“I recognized my mother needed to know that her interests in the company would be protected if she were to step down from her position as president. Through many heartfelt conversations, we orchestrated a plan and arranged for a successful stock purchase and transfer. That is just one piece to the puzzle. The next step was making sure there was a smooth transition.
“I am fortunate to have the support from my aunt, uncle and cousin,” Capri says. “My cousin and I have formed a strong bond and work side by side in operations and sales. With encouragement, my son joined our company in our ecommerce division. His expertise in sales and marketing and his passion for our family business has helped to drive an ecommerce expansion of our pet food. He is the first family member to successfully lead a division of our company while living and working remotely. It is with mutual love and respect that we continue to keep the core values at the heart of what we do every day.”
In addition to her leadership of her family business, Bienemann says, “Capri is a voice in Connecticut and her industry, [speaking about] how crucial family businesses are to the economy.” Capri has helped the University of Connecticut build an executive education program to support family businesses, Bienemann notes. Capri teaches a course in the program and was part of a family business summer internship pilot program.
“She’s involved academically, she’s involved in the community and she’s involved in bringing her family business to the next level,” Bienemann says.
“I believe I bring a level of energy to our company as our new president and hope to inspire the next generation to continue to innovate and evolve,” Capri says. “I consider myself the bridge between the second and fourth generations and am very passionate about our future and the legacy of our family business.”
Vermeer Corporation family camp organizers
Mindi Vanden Bosch is the ownership council chair and Allison Van Wyngarden is the chair of the ownership council education committee for the Vermeer family. Vermeer Corporation, based in Pella, Iowa, is a global manufacturer of industrial and agricultural equipment and is in its third generation of family management.
“Together, they orchestrate our three-day family camp, with extensive programming for all shareholders, and especially three age groups of G4s,” says their cousin Jonathan Vermeer, a shareholder director of the company. “The G4 agenda has been fantastic and comprehensive. They work closely together to make it all happen. They also take into account surveys afterwards.”
Allison Van Wyngarden
Allison, a third-generation family member, oversees the education and programming aspects of family camp. She is a shareholder director of the Vermeer Corporation, a member of the ownership council and chair of the ownership council education committee.
Over the years, Allison has served on the family council executive committee, the Vermeer Charitable Foundation board, the family council education committee, the GRPL (growth, risk, profitability, liquidity) task force and the family employment task force. She continues to develop and support NextGen program efforts as the shareholder base continues to grow.
Allison worked at Vermeer from 2007 to 2011 in the areas of industrial distribution development and continuous improvement.
“I have felt great pride in Vermeer my whole life,” Allison says. “My parents and grandparents taught me gratitude for my opportunities, responsibility, hard work, inquisitive thinking and learning from people and cultures all over the world.
“I am excited about what my generation brings to Vermeer leadership and governance. At Vermeer, we are ‘Equipped to Do More.’ I am passionate about equipping our shareholders through education to do more for themselves, Vermeer and the community.
“Seeing the growth of the younger-generation shareholders is inspiring to me, and it’s a privilege to be part of their development.”
Mindi Vanden Bosch
Mindi oversees the schedule, budget and implementation of family camp. On the family side of the business, she serves as chair of the ownership council and treasurer of the Vermeer Charitable Foundation. She has helped advance family employment, engagement, education and long-term strategy through project work, task forces and advocacy roles.
Mindi is one of three third-generation family members who work in the business started by her grandfather, company founder Gary Vermeer. She joined Vermeer in 2008 and held managerial roles in marketing, finance, human resources and continuous improvement. In her current role as channel advancement manager, she focuses on dealer development.
“Growing up, Vermeer was everything,” Mindi says. “Vacations revolved around connecting to dealers, and after-school hours were spent filing papers.
“Generational success starts early,” she says. “Education and engagement, at all ages, helps keep family businesses vibrant and healthy. True growth comes when a business’s culture mirrors the family’s culture. Together, they can support each other and grow in ways other organizations can’t.”
IDEAL Industries' G4 family leaders
At IDEAL Industries Inc., a 102-year-old Sycamore, Ill.-based company that produces tools and supplies for the electrical and telecommunications industries, multiple members of the fourth generation have distinguished themselves as family leaders.
“The IDEAL family values of inclusivity and relationship are alive and in action in the family and have contributed to the emergence of leaders in the fourth generation,” says Meghan Juday, a G4 member who serves as non-executive vice chair on the IDEAL Industries board of directors. “The family truly honors family members’ individual talents, strengths and passions and encourages them to engage in the life of the family where their areas of interest, passion and purpose intersect.
“In other words, the family values what individuals bring to the table, rather than defining it for them. Because we value all contributions, it has paved the way for fourth-generation family members to lead from a position of strength, cohesion and good stewardship of the family business and of their own individual and unique skills and talents.”
Meghan has been a member of IDEAL Industries’ board since 2004 and became non-executive vice chair in May 2018. Since 2003, she has been instrumental in helping the family successfully navigate family business ownership. Meghan, who formerly served as chair of the IDEAL family council, implemented innovative family governance practices and helped change the mindset of the family toward stewardship to ensure that the family is acting as the best possible partner with the board and management. She developed a transparent decision-making environment to help build engagement and trust across all 50 family members.
She implemented a G5 program to ensure that every interaction the G5s have with IDEAL is “exciting, fun and educational,” she says.
She also initiated two development programs that allow all family members “merit-based access to leadership roles” and help family members become qualified to serve as family leaders, voting trustees or directors.
“Meghan is someone who always steps up to do the hard work when it is necessary, while always staying true to the family’s core values of inclusiveness, stewardship, transparency, engagement, empowerment and relationship,” says Mary Nicoletti, a non-family member who is currently IDEAL’s family council chair. “She is forward-thinking and strategic and has worked to build up the family’s capabilities by investing time into mentoring other family members and non-family members.”
Meghan was a member of the inaugural class of the Loyola University Chicago’s Family Business Stewardship Institute and helped develop curricula for Loyola’s Family Business Stewardship Institute and Governance Institute. She served as director and as a senior consultant at the Institute for Family Business and Entrepreneurship at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and worked with families as principal of a consulting firm, Family Business Strategy Group. Previously, she worked as a business analyst and project manager.
“I’m proud of our family that we are still family-owned after 102 years,” Meghan says. “Recently, we made significant progress to remain so for future generations by protecting 98% of the IDEAL stock in perpetual trusts. We also implemented a family-funded education program and a business-funded family director development program.
“Our family works hard to build relationships, address conflict and grow our capabilities as the business grows. I believe that the family will continue to evolve and act as the best possible partner with the board and management.”
“Meghan is an inspirational person, and her passion for family business is contagious,” Nicoletti says.
Ben Juday, Meghan’s brother, has been an active participant in family governance for the last 20 years and has worked closely with other family members in their ongoing transition from third- to fourth-generation leadership.
Ben was nominated to be a junior board member at IDEAL Industries in 2017 and now serves in that capacity. He also serves on the board of IDEAL’s internship program with Northern Illinois University, which provides real-world experience for college students through a project-based internship at IDEAL. In addition, he is a member of the advisory board of the Loyola Family Business Center in Chicago.
Ben has a real estate business and founded Analog Outfitters, which makes musical amplifiers and other equipment. He brings 16 years of personal business experience and a thorough understanding of the best practices of family business governance to the family.
Ben has served on the IDEAL family council for a number of years, but his greatest contribution to the family is in an unofficial capacity: that of family ombudsman. He has the ability to see all sides of a problem and has been instrumental in bringing the family together during times of conflict.
“Ben’s always putting his love for his family and the family’s core value of relationship into action by quietly and consistently reaching out to other family members with calls, visits, etc., especially those who may feel disengaged or disenfranchised,” Nicoletti says. “He makes extra effort to understand individuals’ perspectives by keeping an open mind and not getting defensive.
“Because of this, Ben has been able to build trust and relationships that have increased engagement and cohesion in the family. He has done all of this humbly with no motive other than a desire to see the family getting along and operating with love and gratitude.”
“IDEAL Industries has been a part of my life since as far back as I can remember,” Ben says. “I grew up going to company picnics, hearing about new products at the dinner table and going to work with my dad on weekends when there was no babysitter available. As such, IDEAL is a cherished and ingrained part of my identity.
“I am committed to doing my part to make sure that the values that IDEAL was founded upon remain relevant and intact. I am committed to being a good steward of the wonderful gift of ownership that I have been given and in doing my part to see IDEAL well into its second century of family ownership.”
Jenna, Ben’s wife, married into the IDEAL Industries family in 2003 and has been active in the family council for 14 years. She helped establish and now serves as chair of the family’s development and education committee and is co-manager of the development and education fund.
“This year, Jenna headed up an innovative program for the fifth generation of the family at the annual family assembly meeting that included breakout sessions for the older fifth-generation members with executives from the company and a mini-IDEAL national championship competition for the younger fifth-generation members,” Nicoletti says. “She also worked with the development and education committee to find innovative ways to move the programming from play to education to prepare the younger G5s for their role as future family assembly members. This year’s programming involved a philanthropy activity and team building to grow the G5s in their social emotional skills and practice working together.
“Jenna is also responsible for supporting family members with their individualized growth and development plans and works with family members to ensure that they have the resources and support they need to achieve their professional goals.”
Jenna is part of the family leadership development program, designed to aid in development of highly qualified family directors. She has served on numerous task forces addressing governance, family relationships, mission/vision/values and more.
She is a graduate of Loyola’s Family Business Stewardship Institute. Her personal career is as a neuroscience nurse in a hospital in Urbana, Ill.
“Marrying into a family business has opened my mind and life to knowledge and experiences I would never have had otherwise,” Jenna says. “My work in family governance has pushed my personal growth and sparked a passion for creating opportunities for others to have that same exposure.
“I am grateful for the space to learn about business in general and at IDEAL. Understanding what it means for a company to ‘live its values’ has impacted my family’s life and the way we engage the larger world. The work is hard, but the benefits are immense if we do our jobs well.”
Jamie, a second cousin to Meghan and Ben Juday, is a member of the family council and also serves as the family assembly chair. In addition, he is a member of the G5 committee and the development and education committee and is co-manager of the family’s development and education fund.
Jamie assists in the coordination of the annual family meeting and of family camp, the annual family retreat. He is currently working to become qualified as a voting trustee for the IDEAL Family Voting Trust and to serve on the board of directors.
Jamie is also a member of the board of the Family Business Network-North America and is chair of its NxG committee.
Outside the family business realm, Jamie is creating a startup to make products that combat invasive aquatic species through chemistry.
“He is a person who always shows up, even when the going gets tough,” Nicoletti says. “Jamie always contributes, while asking for nothing in return, and always makes decisions with integrity and with the family’s core values in mind.”
Jamie has also served as an unofficial family ombudsman working to bring family members together, Nicoletti says. “His presence on the family council and as part of the family governance leadership team has brought a lot of value to the family,” she says.
“My passion for family business stems from my strong belief in compassion and respect for all stakeholders,” Jamie says. “Through an enhanced sense of ethics and values, family-owned businesses have the ability to consider more than profits when making business decisions. Because of this, we are able to demonstrate a new paradigm in which our communities, stakeholders and the natural world can be held in the same esteem as financial gains.
“Family-owned businesses can be a changemaker in making our world a better place to live for all, and I hope to be able to assist toward that end.”
Chris, who is Meghan and Ben Juday’s first cousin, is one of only a few family members who work at IDEAL. She has worked for the family business for 22 years in a variety of roles: customer service, sales, buyer/planning and, currently, vendor managed inventory analyst. She is also president of the company’s foundation and works directly with human resources in planning and executing employee events.
Chris was instrumental in taking IDEAL’s history book, produced in 2016 to commemorate the company’s 100th anniversary, from concept to publication. “Without Chris and all of her research and legwork, this book could not have happened,” Nicoletti says.
“The book project brought me closer to the family,” Chris says. “I felt like I developed a closer connection to past generations, their lives and the IDEAL story itself. It was also extremely satisfying knowing that you were working on something that would have an impact on generations to come, family and employees.”
Chris started working on employee events during the company’s centennial year. She helped orchestrate “The Year End Event,” the biggest and last event of the special year.
“The Year End Event was about the closing of a significant year, and we wanted it to be about the employees,” Chris says. “We wanted to make sure that they truly felt appreciated for all they had done to get our company to that 100-year mark. We succeeded — comments were made by many that it was the best event ever.”
Since then, Chris has been part of the planning committee for all events: the company picnic, town halls, the service award banquet and Relief Week, which raises money for a local or national charity. Last year, more than $10,000 was raised during Relief Week.
“Each [event] is planned with one of the goals being to make sure employees enjoy them and are appreciated,” Chris says. “It’s about giving back for all they do. We as a family wouldn’t have what we have if it weren’t for all the hard work the employees do.”