Family businesses are a vibrant and critical part of our economy. According to the Family Business Review, 85 percent of businesses are family-owned. Of these businesses, 30 percent are passed down to second-generation and another 12 percent are successful in the third generation. It’s clear that in order for family businesses to succeed in the long run, they need to think about (and plan for) the future. That’s where the Family Business Center comes in.
The Family Business Center at the University of Louisville helps family businesses in the region navigate the complexities of generational transition, strategy and growth. The center provides its 89 members with access to educational forums, advising services, and roundtables on a variety of topics.
Director Kathleen Hoye saw a need for a more intensive approach when it came to helping the next generation transition into leadership roles, so she partnered with University of Louisville Professional Development to create a customized certificate program.
“It was a natural fit for us to partner with the Family Business Center,” UofL Professional Development Director Robbie Chitwood stated. “Being a part of one university, we are charged with serving the community. We help organizations solve challenges through learning and development. Our collaboration began with identification of the unique learning needs of family business leaders. From there, we customized our proven leadership development program to address the specific needs of working within family business. As a result, the Leading Within a Family Business certificate program created a peer network and equipped graduates with skills to lead effectively in family-owned organizations.”
Practical Tools for the Family Business
Throughout the course of six months, the Leading Within a Family Business certificate program brought together 18 participants from a wide variety of industries. Two of these participants were Keith Burchette and his sister Andrea Kash, co-owners of HI-FLOAT. Started by their parents, HI-FLOAT produces an internationally distributed product that extends the floating life of latex balloons.
“Each class offered something unique that I can apply to both my career and my personal life,” Keith said, “I work with people all over the world, and at times communication and understanding of each other’s core values come into play. Navigating these moments is key to our success and this program offered that key.”
Topics covered in that program included “Understanding Self in the Context of Family,” “Leadership in the Family Business Workplace,” and “Business Acumen and Strategy.” UofL instructors led each session and gave participants practical tools they could put to work immediately.
The program was so successful that the teams are now planning future sessions.
Andrea stated that as a result of the program, she is more focused on understanding the people she works with at HI-FLOAT.
“I can utilize the tools learned in the program to determine what motivates people, and what is getting in the way of progress,” she said … “Hearing from other family businesses has helped us become more focused on our future and the proactive steps we can take to protect our family’s legacy.”