Family businesses lie at the heart of South Florida’s economy. They’re built and nourished with the benefit of hard work, shared vision and traditions. At the same time, they possess a unique set of challenges: sibling rivalries, cross-generational misunderstandings and complex transition planning issues that can derail even the most successful of enterprises.
The Family Business Forum at Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Business Administration is a new initiative designed to help businesses navigate those rough waters with guidance from experts and support from peers. The program, presented by the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center’s Institute for Family Business, also gives member businesses a rare opportunity to share experiences with their peers—other families who face almost identical business issues.
Mercedes LaRue, director of the institute, welcomed 35 guests to a January 17, 2012 Family Business Forum luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables.
“Family business owners are leaders and mentors, the pillars of our community,” LaRue said. “It’s often challenging for them to meet others at their level. Our forum will bring these leaders together with others who share their concerns.”
Navigating transitions pose unique challenges to families.
In their keynote presentation, Paul and David Karofsky of Transition Consulting Group, a father-son consulting team that works with family businesses as they pass leadership from one generation to the next, addressed family business challenges: How does the founder of a business deal with new priorities of his children, who demand to make room for their personal lives? How does a father deal equitably when children have different leadership abilities?
“It’s important for you as business people and family leaders to have a resource of academics and service providers as you transition from one generation to the next,” said the senior Karnofsky, who helped launch Northeastern University’s Center for Family Business.
Forum attendees called the event an important opportunity to network and learn.
“The statistics on successfully passing firms to the second generation are so challenging,” said David S. Yglesias, dealer principal at Palmetto Ford. “You need a forum like this to help guide you to make the best decisions for you and your family.”