2:15 p.m. Pacific standard time
Achieving innovation, growth and sustainability: strategies of entrepreneurial family business
Investor communication strategies to maximize IPO valuation
Practical advice, from their family to yours
How do family businesses achieve sustainability across generations? Panelists from successful long-lasting family businesses divulged their hard-won lessons in the “Achieving innovation, growth and sustainability: strategies of entrepreneurial family business” session.
Topics revolved around bolstering family unity and reducing conflict in the face of explosive growth, market disruption and succession worries.
“When you’re a parent and you’re the boss, it’s tough for your children to recognize the difference,” said Senator Francis X. Kelly of Kelly & Associates Insurance Group, Inc. So when board meetings with his four sons began to resemble contentious family dinners, he hired a faith-based business consultant, who helped them institute a “respect initiative.”
Carolyn Richardson Hursh of James Richardson & Sons, Limited shared, “My great-great-grandfather’s motto was: ‘We want to be the sort of business organization in which people can place their trust.’ We still live by those words today.” To keep the entire family dedicated to this legacy, they have instituted yearly family conferences, annual meetings, training initiatives for younger generations and frequent communication about the business.
That strategy appealed to John Tracy of Dot Foods, Inc., who added a family council, a family foundation and an outside board to the list. “Those things forced us into communication vehicles, forced us into sharing mistakes and recognizing mistakes in a less hostile environment and really getting out in front of issues,” he said.
According to moderator Joseph H. Astrachan, Ph.D., of Kennesaw State University, the school’s research backs up the efficacy of encouraging family unity to reduce conflict: “Families that have figured out how to talk to one another can solve their differences much better than families that have really heavy structures on top of what they’re doing.”
Joseph H. Astrachan, Ph.D.
Wells Fargo Eminent Scholar Chair of Family Business, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, Center at the Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University
Joe Astrachan is Wells Fargo Eminent Scholar Chair of Family Business, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, and Executive Director of the Cox Family Enterprise Center at the Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Astrachan is widely known as the best scientist in the family business field and has an uncanny ability to explain how research translates into highly effective action steps to achieve success. He has received numerous awards for his work, including awards from the Family Firm Institute and The Family Business Network International. Dr. Astrachan is editor of the scientific publication the Journal of Family Business Strategy and past editor of Family Business Review. Dr. Astrachan has over 30 years’ experience studying and working with family companies and has spoken in over 35 countries. He has been a visiting professor at schools around the world, including Witten/Herdecke University in Germany and Loyola University Chicago. He currently serves on the boards of seven privately owned family businesses covering a wide variety of industries from heavy equipment and consumer goods manufacturing to quick-service food franchising, to professional services and real estate development. Dr. Astrachan comes from a family business background; his extended family owned businesses, such as container and tanker shipping, shipbuilding, coal mining and pharmaceuticals. Dr. Astrachan earned his BA, MA, M Phil, and PhD degrees at Yale University.
Senator Francis X. Kelly
Kelly & Associates Insurance Group, Inc.
What began in the basement of Janet and Frank Kelly’s home in 1976 as a small health and life insurance agency has evolved into one of the largest and fastest-growing group insurance administrators, brokers and consultants in the mid-Atlantic region specializing in health care. Run by their four sons, Kelly and Associates Insurance Group is the 2013 winner of the EY Family Business Award of Excellence. The Kellys’ partnership is one of faith, family and community service. In addition to running the business, Kelly served 12 successful years in the Maryland Senate where he was recognized by his peers as one of Maryland’s most effective legislators.
Carolyn Richardson Hursh
James Richardson & Sons, Limited
Carolyn Hursh is Chairman of James Richardson & Sons, Limited, a family-owned international corporation headquartered in Winnipeg, Canada, with interests in agriculture, oil and gas, financial services and real estate. The company was founded in 1857 by Carolyn’s great-great-grandfather, and Carolyn is a member of the fifth generation. A Director of the firm since 1991, and Chairman since 2000, Carolyn oversees Board, Shareholder and Family matters. Carolyn also serves as Director of Corus Entertainment Inc., as Chairman of the Max Bell Foundation and on two Advisory Boards. Carolyn lives in Calgary with her husband, Larry Hursh, QC; they have three grown children and one granddaughter.
Dot Foods, Inc.
John Tracy graduated from Colorado State University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Business. He received an MBA from Memphis State University in 1985. John joined Dot Foods, Inc. in 1980 and has held several positions throughout the organization in sales, marketing and operations. He was named President in January 1997 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2006. Dot Foods is a national food distribution company that specializes in food and ingredient redistribution. The company operates nine distribution centers that service food distributors in all channels, including foodservice, retail, vending and convenience store.