In this issue
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced business families to make decisions with sweeping ramifications. Steps taken to ensure business survival have had to be balanced with precautions to avoid health risks.
“My values haven’t been tested, but my ability to live by them has been shattered,” commented one listener during an April 14 webinar presented by Family Business Magazine and CFAR, a management consulting firm.
Whether they aspire to work in the family company or take a leading role in governance, NextGen members of business families often struggle to find their niche. In addition to acquiring the experience and education they need to fulfill their roles, NextGens must establish credibility with family members, employees and other stakeholders.
When a family business fails, most people suspect that estate taxes or incompetent advisers led to its demise, but that’s rarely the case. Even before the estate tax exemption increased at the end of 2017, it was rare to find a family who couldn’t keep their business afloat because they needed to pay estate taxes. There were even fewer instances in which poor professional advice led to failed family enterprises.
Pivoting to make a new product quickly has always been a hallmark of Lacerta Group Inc., a family-owned plastic packaging manufacturer based in Mansfield, Mass.
Soon after a family business recruits the first independent directors to its board, the business owners commonly marvel, “I am impressed that such remarkable and accomplished people would join our board of directors.” Within twoyears the same owners often remark, “Adding independent directors was the best thing we have done in our recent history.” The upgraded board has become an extension of management’s capability and a source of confidence for shareholders.
The memes came first.
Ohio Art has reinvented itself several times in the 112 years of the company’s existence.
When the Nelson Family Foundation decided to give $50,000 to the Food Bank of Iowa to help address a spike in need because of COVID-19, the plan was put into action quickly.
“I think we initially had the idea on a Friday morning, and by Monday afternoon the check had been cut and we had made contact with the food bank,” says Mary Katherine Nelson, chair of the Nelson Family Council. “It was a much quicker turnaround than what we’re used to. But luckily, with our structure, we were able to make those decisions quickly.”
Jeff and Elyssa Kotzen’s hot yoga class on Friday, March 13 was not a zen experience.