Category Archives: Article

  • Article

    Member Spotlight: Teddy’s Transport

    Teddy’s Transport is a perfect representation of a successful family business. Founded in 1982 , Teddy’s Transport is a nationwide, expediting service. It was started by Ted, or “Teddy”, and Mary Gibbs. The business was later purchased by their daughter and son in law, Helen and Craig Zeerip. Helen is now the current President of…
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  • Article

    Member Spotlight: King Milling Company

       King Milling Company: 5th Generation and Forward In 1900 Thomas F. Doyle bought into King Milling Company, a move that would change the trajectory of his family for generations to come. Today, his great-grandsons are running the business and the fifth generation is coming on board. We recently talked with Brian Doyle, fourth generation…
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  • Article

    Recap: 11th Annual Family Business Forum

    An unofficial theme of the 11th Annual Family Business Forum was culture—defining it, living it and understanding the difference it can make for family businesses, their employees, and customers. The event began with a conversation between Chris Shepler, president and third generation of Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, and Dr. Don Steele, co-author of Undefeated: The…
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  • Article

    In Case You Missed It: The Journey of the Family Business Leader, June 13, 2017

    If you missed last week’s Family Business Alliance event, not to worry, we’ve compiled a recap for you. The event featured a fantastic panel facilitated by Joe Schmieder from the Family Business Consulting Group. Panelists represented the four generations active in family businesses today: • Leon Slikkers, S2 Yachts, representing the Traditionalist Generation (ages 72-95)…
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  • Article

    What does neuroscience have to do with family business?

    One mid-November night, I was driving down a country road with my 15-year-old son. I was distracted by intractable problems going on within my family. Suddenly, I saw a stop sign whizzing by me, and I realized there was no way I could stop in time. We hit a car going 40 miles per hour….
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  • Article

    The challenge and opportunity of independent business ownership

    In the world of many privately owned businesses, there are at least three competing areas to manage actively. These three areas are family, ownership, and management. These three distinct interests can intersect with one or both of the others. This is what can cause conflict and be difficult to manage. Management functions refer to the…
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  • Article

    How to be a valuable asset on your company’s board

    Are you the next generation of your family’s business? Do you currently serve on a board or want to serve on a nonprofit board? If it’s the latter, why do you serve? Are you an effective board member? Perhaps you would like to do more for the organization but can’t seem to make the time….
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  • Article

    Talent Acquistion & Retention: Q&A with Ellie Frey Zagel, Director of the Family Business Alliance

    A recent interview with our very own Ellie Frey Zagel, Director of the Family Business Alliance, on the topic of where talent acquisition and retention fits in the realm of family owned business.

  • Article

    Keep that resolution; create your best year ever

    More than 200 million Americans made New Year’s resolutions this month and, yet, only 8 percent will keep them. Most people make the same resolution 10 times without success. That used to be me — but not anymore…

  • Article

    Protecting the family business from fraud

    “It happened to me.” I heard that repeatedly after a Family Business Alliance session earlier this month on “Fraud and Embezzlement in the Family Business.” Tyra Dellacroce, the second-generation vice president of Connecticut Stone, shared a very honest — and very painful — story about an embezzlement that shook her family business. Since that session,…
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  • Article

    Proposed business discount eliminations will not be finalized in 2016

    Sprinkled among the political thunder and lightning we’ve tried to escape this year is a proposal to change tax rules affecting transfers of ownership of family businesses. There’s a lot of hype, panic, outrage and confusion over proposed changes to Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Section 2704. If your family owns a business and has been…
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  • Article

    Retirement strategies for the family business owner

    Which type of business owner are you? 1. “I plan to stay at the helm of my business until I drop,” or 2. “I’ll work hard now, so I can enjoy life in retirement.” If you identify with either of these, you know where you stand. Many business owners, however, have difficulty thinking about long-range…
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  • Article

    Family business best practices: an overview

    What does it take for a family business to be world class? There are four well-known best practices derived from studying multigenerational family businesses the world over. These best practices are found in family businesses that have successfully transitioned to a third or subsequent generation. They include having: A strategic planning process and written plan….
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  • Article

    Family meetings: identifying exactly who is in the room

    Everyone has that odd uncle who shows up at family events and creates awkwardly memorable situations. What if that uncle is not just a family member but you “get to” work with him every day in your family business? Family businesses often have an interesting cast of characters, each of whom contributes uniquely to the…
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  • Article

    Four mistakes family business owners make with their exit plan

    Have you ever seen someone walk unsuspectingly into a glass door? I’ve been that person. What’s the worst part? Knowing it was totally preventable. While that scenario may be funny, creating and executing your exit plan is serious business. There are four common mistakes I see family business owners make in their exit plan —…
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  • Article

    Is yours a family business? You are not alone

    Are you the founder or next-generation owner of a company? When at work, do you see family members on a daily basis? If you answered yes to these questions, do you consider your business to be a family business?

  • Article

    Succession planning: the first step to transferring ownership

    It is no secret the odds are stacked against closely held business owners when it comes to successfully transitioning their businesses from one generation to the next. Many owners are aware of the odds but find it difficult to start the transition process. This is understandable considering the process can be quite overwhelming: the creation…
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  • Article

    Successful transition planning: the future of a family business

    According to the Family Firm Institute, only 30 percent of family businesses survive into the second generation, and by the third generation, only 12 percent remain viable. There are many reasons family businesses fail, but all too often they succumb because the owners are overwhelmed and “too busy” to deal with the prospect of transitioning…
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  • Article

    Understanding a family’s impact on business values

    Nearly all family businesses are created with the intention that the business will grow and be successful, generating value for its owners, employees and community, well beyond the lifespan of its founders. The family ownership group should recognize that, after they retire or move out of the business, the business entity must continue to survive…
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  • Article

    Best practices for separating business and personal finances

    In family-owned businesses, the line dividing your business and your personal life is already blurred. For many generational family businesses, the lines are more blurred today than ever before, as technology keeps us connected and “on the job” even when we’re on vacation. But while you may find yourself working 24-7, it’s still important to…
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  • Article

    Getting to know the millennial generation

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015, the millennial generation or “Gen Y” (those born from 1981 to 1996) is projected to outsize the baby boomer generation as the nation’s largest living generation. There is a projected $30 trillion transfer of wealth from the baby boomers to their millennial heirs. Outlined in this article…
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  • Article

    The missing piece: the family wealth counselor

    Family business is one of life’s most exciting, challenging and rewarding endeavors. When you decided to start or become involved in a family business, you probably had certain objectives in mind. Your list may have included any number of unique goals, but two are common for many family business owners:

  • Article

    Creating a Family Constitution to avoid consternation

    Most family businesses fail by the third generation, but few family business owners anticipate or acknowledge the risk of failure, according to data compiled by the Family Business Institute. According to the Institute, only 30 percent of family businesses survive into the second generation, 12 percent survive into the third generation and just 3 percent…
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  • Article

    Raising kids amidst family business success

    The next generation of family business owners is required to be many things. They are expected to be smart — even smarter than their talented entrepreneurial parents. They also are expected to be financially fluent. Many will learn financial skills by accident and/or on their own, and this self-taught process tends to happen later in…
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  • Article

    How can family businesses retain outsiders?

    The ability to attract and retain talented employees is key to the long-term success of any business. If you own a family business, you may be one of the lucky few that have found all of your key talent within the family. More likely, and especially as the business has grown, you’ve identified the need…
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  • Article

    Tax changes affects family businesses, but there’s still time to plan

    For most of us (or perhaps all of us), writing checks to the IRS does not make our Top Ten list of things we look forward to. This year in particular was likely more painful for many business owners and other taxpayers due to a series of significant tax changes that took effect in early…
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  • Article

    Family-owned business need family meetings

    Research tells us there are three key factors for the perpetuation of a family-owned business: having a strategic plan for the business, using a board that includes outside directors, and holding family meetings. A good strategic plan helps grow and sustain any business, so that one comes as no surprise. And many family-owned businesses have…
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  • Article

    Exit strategies for family business owner

    The manager of a family business who is considering retirement often has four goals: paying as little in taxes as possible, keeping the business in the family, treating heirs fairly, and ensuring competent successor management. However, achieving these goals is often a challenge. A business exit must be custom fitted to your financial situation and…
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  • Article

    Successful leadership transition: traps to avoid, tips for success

    It’s never easy to step into a leadership role from outside an organization. Michael Watkins, an authority on leadership transitions, has concluded through his research that 40 percent of executive leaders hired from the outside fail within 18 months. He estimates the cost to the company of a failed leader at 14 times the leader’s…
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  • Article

    Made in Michigan: case produces fruitful holdings for business owners

    As the material participation debate continues to ripen, taxpayers and tax professionals are provided with the sweet taste of clarity surrounding the question of whether a trust may materially participate in a trade or business. To the present day, overcoming the “material participation” hurdle of the passive activity loss rules has been a prevailing concern…
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  • Article

    Wemployee stock ownership plans offer many advantages to family-owned business and their shareholders

    Employee Stock Ownership Plans, or ESOPs, have been used as succession planning tools for family-owned businesses for 40 years. However, not all business owners or their attorneys, accountants or other advisors are familiar with the advantages an ESOP offers to a family-owned corporation and its shareholders. To test your ESOP IQ, let’s take a little…
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  • Article

    Income tax changes and the family business owner

    Last year ushered in many changes on the tax front resulting from the American Taxpayer Relief Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. For family business owners, a better understanding of these tax law adjustments can help them plan accordingly. Most successful business owners are puzzled by use of the word “relief” to…
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  • Article

    Considering employment in the family business

    Are members of the next generation of the family business considering working for the family firm? Perhaps they live and work elsewhere and are thinking about returning to West Michigan because they see the incredible growth, excitement and opportunity taking place here. Perhaps they are still in school and are considering all of their options…
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  • Article

    Family business and building culture: one barrier, three advantages

    A recent study by Nicolas Kachaner, George Stalk and Alain Bosch published in Harvard Business Review (Nov. 2012) indicates family-run businesses have an innate advantage over other models. Looking across business cycles from 1997 to 2009, the study cited seven reasons family businesses outperformed their counterpart nonfamily enterprises: They’re frugal in good times as well…
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  • Article

    Finanical literacy: what you don’t know can hurt your business

    Financial literacy — the knowledge of financial matters needed to make informed judgments and decisions on the management of money — has become an increasingly important skill for anyone making decisions in today’s economy. Perhaps nowhere is financial literacy more important than within a family business. Knowing the basics of credit and debt, how to…
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  • Article

    Is fair always equal? Challenges in the family business succession

    Families face many challenges when passing ownership of the family business between generations. A key component to succession planning is determining how to treat children equally when dividing assets among them while doing what is best for the business and the family. A desire for equality among children adds tremendous stress to the planning process…
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  • Article

    Capital gain rules benefit familty businesses and investors

    Once known as “Furniture City” and now “Beer City USA,” Grand Rapids has long been a home to innovation and entrepreneurs. Want to create a supermarket and see it spread to more than 190 stores in five states, or turn cleaning products into a global enterprise? Grand Rapids might be just the place for your…
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  • Article

    Health Care Tax without heartburn, an easy-to-digest overview

    It’s no fun to be sick. Illness often requires spending time in a pharmacy, doctor’s office, or hospital, all of which can be very expensive. Congress intended the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to increase the rate of health insurance coverage and reduce health care costs, but it comes at a price.  One way…
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  • Article

    Private equity growing trend in family business research and practice

    Family business is becoming recognized for the important role it plays in the global economy. And, not surprisingly, West Michigan is becoming recognized as a mecca for family business. Grand Valley State University and the Family Business Alliance this month hosted more than 100 academic attendees and 140 local family business leaders at the Family…
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  • Article

    Compelling reasons for pre-transition planning

    Family-business owners often spend a lifetime building their business, and it is typically their single largest financial asset. As the owner contemplates retirement, a common desire is a seamless and successful transfer to the next generation of owners. While there are many techniques and strategies to assist with this transfer, they can be complicated and…
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  • Article

    Prenuptial agreements and the elephant in the room

    It is common for owners of businesses to want a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage. There are many good reasons for having a prenuptial agreement: It can protect the business from intrusive discovery on divorce or death; it can avoid management having to spend precious time on producing documents; it can accelerate the time period…
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  • Article

    Selling your business “someday”? Five things to consider now

    There are a myriad of external factors that can influence the best time to sell your business:  taxes, interest rates and market demand, to name a few. While you can’t control these issues, you can insure your business is ready when the right timing hits. 1. First and most important — start putting your house…
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  • Article

    Service Providers, trusted advisors: How to work with family businesses

    Are the majority of your clients family businesses? Chances are, yes. Of all the business entities in West Michigan, 88.8 percent identify as family owned. Family enterprises take many forms — large, small and in every industry. Our community wouldn’t be what it is today without our family businesses planning for the future, giving back…
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  • Article

    Preparing the next generation to purchase the business

    West Michigan has a rich tradition of successful family-owned businesses, and ensuring they pass from one generation to the next is often very challenging but important to the future of our local economy. There are a number of challenges that may prevent the next generation from being successful. Obstacles like proper business acumen, work ethic,…
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  • Article

    The softer side of business: when process trumps outcome

    “If the relationships matter, then process trumps outcome.” — Greg McCann Greg McCann, a nationally recognized family business consultant, spoke these words at a Family Business Alliance event this past May. He was addressing the issue of succession planning for family businesses and the need to refocus on what he called the “softer side” of…
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