Jan 28 2016

What Mountains Will Your Family Business Climb in 2016?

by Sally Derstine, Managing Partner, Family Business Advisor

Last month we met with a family who has a very successful business. But, as is all too common, the relationship & communication between the three partners, who are also siblings, has been suffering for decades. One sibling attended one of our Forums last year and knew that the time had come to seek outside guidance. So, they took a courageous step and joined our Center. When they came in for their Family Business Consult (which every family has access to as part of membership), they lamented with some hope but also deep sadness as they thought of all the pain their family has gone through, “I wish we would have known about your Center 20 years ago!”

And THAT, my friends, is why I am so passionate about our Learning Community here at DVFBC. A key learning for me over the past 25 years in the business of family business is that the road is long and difficult, and most shouldn’t attempt it alone. In fact, that’s why we refer to the work of healthy family businesses as a Multi-Generational Journey, or climbing up the 5 family business mountains. And that’s also why we’ve worked so passionately the last 25 years to build a community of support for family businesses – so you understand that you are not alone and experienced guides are available!

This year our theme for the Center is “Innovation in Family Business.”  Last week I was at a Family Business Conference in NYC when Lloyd Steier, a professor at the University of Alberta School of Business, said something that made me smile and beam with what I’ve experienced in my work with remarkable business families:  “Family businesses are more entrepreneurial & innovative than all business schools put together.” This year we are going to showcase some ways family businesses lead their community and sometimes industry by balancing stability and tradition with innovation and forward-thinking approaches. Here are some highlights of our upcoming Center events:

Dinner FORUMDriving Innovation from Generation to Generation, Wednesday, March 16, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Peter Latta, G3 CEO and Chairman of A. Duie Pyle, will share how they are developing policies, governance and boundaries  to prepare G4 for the future. Location: Radnor Valley Country Club, Radnor, PA.

Best Practice Event: 5 Myths About Millennials, Boomers, & Gen-X in the Workplace,  Thursday, April 28, 9:30 am – 11:30 am. Communicating across the generations is a challenge every family business faces. Join thought leaders from DVFBC, Lacher & Associates, and Proxus to learn tips for communicating and engaging family members across the generations! Location: Fox Rothschild, Blue Bell, PA

Best Practice Event: Ways to Retire While Preserving the Legacy for the Rising Generation, Wednesday, May 18, 8 am – 10 am. Letting go can be difficult — especially when you are trying to balance your own personal financial needs with the needs of the business. But there are options. Come hear Paula Barrett from RKL and Bill Wanger from Fox Rothschild talk more about these innovative approaches and simple next steps for how to pass on the business in a way that provides financial security for yourself and the rising generation. Location: RKL, Wyomissing, PA

Click here for our complete list of educational events.

For more information about becoming a member of the DVFBC, which gives you access to these great events as well as a 90 minute Family Business Consult with your family (where you can learn more about our 5 family business mountains, best practices, and chart your next steps for 2016), please contact us at 215.723.8413 or email us at and myself or Jared Byas will be happy to answer your questions. We hope to see you soon!

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