A happy anniversary

By Caro U. Rock

Twenty-five years ago, I moved from the banking industry to join our family's chain of community newspapers. In 2005, I became publisher of Family Business Magazine, the leading resource for successful multigenerational business families. Now, as we celebrate our silver anniversary, I reflect upon our contribution in developing a body of knowledge that helps family businesses thrive.

The patriarch of our family is my father-in-law, Milton L. Rock, former chairman and CEO of the Hay Group. In founding Family Business Magazine, Milt perceived that families need help in managing key transitions while maintaining family harmony. Today, at 93, he still zeroes in on the pertinent issues. According to Milt, "The future of family business is strong." Now, he observes, "Family companies are thinking longer-term." While in the past a family business might have been sold if there were no son, now daughters or non-family executives routinely are named to lead family firms.

As Milt has long recognized, "There are distinct advantages of a family business. You take pride in having your name on the door. You set your own schedule and have the ability to create an environment to support your family well."

I myself grew up in a family business that was founded by my grandfather in Kansas City. We made flour, hot cereal and consumer food products. Many other families I knew owned and ran businesses—the Halls of Hallmark, the Soslands of Sosland Publishing, the Berkleys of Tension Envelope, the Dunns of JE Dunn and the Blochs of H&R Block (my brother's in-laws). Most continue today with tremendous positive impact on the community.

At the magazine, we are seeing exciting trends. Next-generation entrepreneurs have been working to reinvigorate and reinvent their family businesses. Some bring expertise in social media, technology, marketing and finance. To attract the dynamic next generation, family companies must be more progressive and creative—and willing to compensate at competitive market rates.

Speaking of the next generation, our office has recently welcomed both of our sons, one in the family business and one in digital healthcare. What a pleasure it is to watch these two prosper and radiate such enthusiasm. Our Family Business team has also expanded to include Peter Begalla, conference and education director; Monica McLaughlin, our talented art director; and Lise Dykes, our webmaster. All are welcome additions to our growing company.

I am grateful to my perceptive and supportive husband, Bob, who leads our family business today. As we approach our 39th wedding anniversary, I know that I am lucky to work with such an extraordinary person. We both look forward to serving family companies around the world for many years to come.

Copyright 2014 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

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September/October 2014


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