The Family Wealth Alliance, a leading voice on trends and developments in the family office community, presented its “Best in Industry Award for Family Counsel” to The Family Business Consulting Group. The honor is bestowed to an individual or firm that embodies the notion of “trusted advisor” in providing knowledgeable advice and guidance for family clients in navigating major challenges such as generational transitions.
The Awards were announced during The Alliance Anniversary Awards Gala on October 17, 2018, attended by 165 industry leaders and held in conjunction with its annual Fall Forum in Chicago.
“We received more than 100 nominations for this year’s awards, and our judges had an extremely difficult time choosing the category winners,” commented Thomas R. Livergood, Founder and Chief Executive Officer. He added, “each finalist deserved to win, as the businesses represented were truly best in class in so many ways.” The judge’s panel was led by Jamie McLaughlin, CEO, J.H. McLaughlin & Co., and Nancy Ann Akeson, President, Total Personal Services Administrative Group.
Our firm is honored by the recognition and dedicate this award to the families who inspire us every day to do the work we love to do.
The Family Business Consulting Group is pleased to announce the addition of Amy Wirtz, CEPA as its newest consultant specializing in shareholder value enhancement, business planning processes, and transition implementation of management, leadership and ownership. Her passion stems from growing up in her grandparents’ second-generation business, surrounded by the wonderfully complex matters a family business presents.
“Amy demonstrates so many of the qualities that FBCG values, from her education and her many years of working with family companies, to her deep sense of service to clients,” said Managing Principal Drew Mendoza. “Her work in collaborative law underscores her extensive understanding and experience of transitions in family firms. We are pleased to welcome her to the team.”
Amy brings a diverse range of experience to family enterprises by serving in various roles such as an exit-planning advisor, collaborative lawyer, mediator, arbitrator, lecturer, and teacher. Drawing from 25 years as a lawyer, she believes in peaceful resolutions to complex issues by helping families learn new communication skills to resolve family and business matters. While no longer practicing law, today Amy focuses on providing creative solutions to family business engagements and presenting to relevant audiences. She also helps business owners use their advisors as a resource team to create optimal value.
Prior to joining FBCG, Amy had been a certified collaborative lawyer for over 14 years and a mediator for a nine-year period. Both of these certifications require extensive training in interest-based negotiations, listening skills, reframing and alternate dispute resolutions. She attended Cleveland State Marshall College of Law and the University of Toledo for her undergraduate schooling where she received a bachelor in secondary education.
Amy has been a member of the North East Ohio Exit Planning Institute since its formation. She is a Certified Exit Planning Advisor and an instructor for the Exit Planning Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Amy serves on the Advisory Board for NewComer Farms located in Bryan, Ohio. Additionally, she teaches ethics to family counselors (PhDs, LCSWs, etc.) at Case Western Reserve University and is the Diversion Officer for Bay Village where she works with children who have a first-time brush with the law to avoid a criminal record.
Amy is married with two adolescent children and lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.
The Family Business Consulting Group is pleased to announce the addition of Jean Meeks-Koch, Ph.D. as its newest consultant specializing in advising family enterprises facing significant organizational transitions. She has extensive experience specialized in large-scale change management initiatives, organizational systems and restructuring, leadership and team cohesiveness development, executive coaching, psychometric personality and competency assessments, and leadership curriculum design and implementation in various modalities.
“Jean’s insights into organizational and family systems is tremendously keen as is her strategic and financial acuity,” said Managing Principal Drew Mendoza. “She is very well rounded and a wonderful resource for the families with whom she works.”
As a recognized expert in organization structure and behavioral dynamics, Jean is uniquely positioned to help clients select strategic change initiatives that match their unique organizational characteristics. She collaborates with families to look beyond the immediate pressing issues and look out into the next generational horizon. With a vigilant eye on the triple-bottom line, Jean intertwines her financial acumen, organization structure, and human systems capabilities together navigating the human dynamics of change.
Jean earned her Ph.D. in Organization Systems and Behaviors from Saybrook University; Masters in Accountancy from Southern Utah University; and Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Southern Utah University. She holds several certifications including the Advance Certification in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute.
The Family Business Consulting Group is pleased to welcome to its team David Karofsky.
David brings over 25 years of experience in coaching and consulting to individuals, families and companies to develop better cross team communication and build alignment among leadership. His client work is focused on executing the transition of ownership and leadership, professional development, conflict resolution, strategic planning and forming governance structures for family and closely-held businesses.
David is a recognized practitioner in the field, international speaker, and co-author of So You’re in the Family Business: A Guide to Sustainability with his father, Paul Karofsky. David joined his father’s firm, Transition Consulting Group, when he began his family business consulting practice, which has given him a personal appreciation for the joys of family business. David feels the move to FBCG offers the best of both worlds. “When FBCG approached me about joining its practice, I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to become part of a new team and expand the value I provide to my clients, while still being able to collaborate with my father.”
“We’re excited to have David on board,” shared Drew Mendoza, Managing Principal. “We have a lot of respect for the work that David and his father, Paul, have done with families over the years. David brings great energy, knowledge and expertise around family business, and he’ll have much to contribute to the FBCG team and the families that we serve.”
David is a graduate of Bowdoin College and received his Ed.M. in Counseling Psychology from Boston University and his MBA from Northeastern University. He is based in Boston, where he lives with his wife and two children.
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The Family Business Consulting Group is pleased to announce the addition of two of its seasoned experts to the top position of principal in 2016: Dana Telford and Michael Fassler.
“Both have fantastic family business acumen, academic and career pedigrees,” said Drew Mendoza, managing principal of the firm. “Their contributions to the field not only as advisors, but also speakers and writers, are superb. Most importantly, both have shown tremendous leadership in our company and great respect for our vision and values. Every client I have spoken with has provided outstanding reviews of their work with the family and the business.”
Dana joined the firm in 2011 and has advised hundreds of business families from many business sectors in a variety of sizes on six continents and in more than 18 different countries. His former and current clients include leaders from Forbes’ list of the world’s wealthiest, a royal family and two of the largest privately held businesses in the world. Dana earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.
“Dana brings wonderful experience as a consultant and an excellent mind to the continuing development of The Family Business Consulting Group,” shared Craig Aronoff, co-founder, principal and chair of the board. “He represents the ‘next generation’ of ownership which will assure the continuity of our firm and the achievement of our commitment to remain an independent firm providing unconflicted service to our family business clients across generations.”
Mike has been serving family businesses since 1984, across industries and internationally. Since joining our team in 2013, most of his work is focused on family businesses owned by sibling teams and cousin teams with an emphasis on helping clients balance the tension of family and business as their families and businesses grow. He is a certified and active member of the Family Firm Institute and earned his BBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame and graduate degree from Michigan State University
According to Craig, “Mike is an outstanding addition to our ownership team with decades of experience and a great understanding of practice of professional advisory services and building our capacity to better serve our clients. We look forward to having his voice in our decisions concerning the continuous growth and improvement of The Family Business Consulting Group.”
Established in 1994, The Family Business Consulting Group’s ownership group today includes Craig Aronoff, Drew Mendoza, Christopher Eckrich, Stephen McClure, Amy Schuman, David Lansky, Joe Schmieder, Greg Greenleaf, Dana Telford and Michael Fassler.
Our intention is similar to that of many of the family businesses we serve: to perpetuate The Family Business Consulting Group across generations by constantly identifying and attracting outstanding professionals and continuously facilitating their improvement while reinvesting in our organization, methods and intellectual capital.
Welcome to your new leadership roles, Dana and Mike!
One of the great benefits of the ever-increasing dialogue around family business challenges is that many families have a much clearer picture of the things that are required to sustain the business into future generations. Readers of our books and articles will see that our experience with business-owning families has shown certain things to be very helpful in balancing the needs of family and business, including independent boards, family councils, family policies, family meetings, and family education.
And so, it can be tempting to dive in and start putting those things in place. Take the example of instituting a family council. It can seem fairly simple – selecting people to serve on the council, organizing meetings, creating agendas, etc. A successful family council, though, requires the family itself to change, giving up old ways of communicating and making decisions in favor of this new structure. This kind of change takes time and may feel like two steps forward, one step back for a while until the family adapts.
This is why the process of how these important structures are created is as important as the structure itself. A board of directors will be most effective when the board has the trust and respect of the family. A family council will work best when the family understands its purpose and respects the council members who represent them. The process of creating these structures includes what they are and how they’re formed, plus education, agreement, and engagement.
As we enter a New Year we may look to set goals that will move our families towards better continuity planning. Keeping the focus on both where you need to go and how you’re going to get there is important to smoothing out the bumps in the road on the way to change.
As a consultant to family businesses, I am frequently asked, “When will I need a family business consultant?” The simple answer is, when you need one, you will know it.
A consultant is usually brought in to help a family resolve particular issues that they do not have the time or expertise to resolve by themselves. There are basically two types of systems consultants often used:
Expert or project consultants will give you solutions to particular problems and help implement those solutions. Process consultants help you define the problems and then assist you in reaching your own conclusions and solutions.
What should you be looking for when hiring a family business consultant? The first and most important factor is straight forward: can they help solve your particular issues that are hurting the family and business or both?
Before hiring a consultant, here are some questions you should ask yourself:
What type of experience do they have working with family businesses?
How broad and deep is their training?
How long have they done family business consulting?
Do they demonstrate expertise on the pertaining issues the family is presenting?
Have they helped other businesses with similar issues?
Two other basic criteria are cost and time. Is the consultant affordable for you and is there a time constraint? Do you have confidence that the consultant will complete the project on time?
While these are important factors, the real question is, does the consultant have the experience and ability to manage the specific issues that are involved? A quick and cheap solution that doesn’t solve your problems is not very useful.
Helping to cultivate harmony is an important part of the consultant’s involvement. Family businesses are incredibly complex entities. Family business members inherently need to work through a broad range of complicated challenges, with the consequences of failure being not only the loss of the business, but also potentially the loss of the love found in family relationships.
Succession, ownership, communication, family dynamics, and governance all require different types of management. However, to be successful, all of these things need to be functioning in harmony. Thus, there are many different skill sets that a consultant needs to work with a family business.
Running a business is hard, especially these days. Trying to run a profitable business with your family, while maintaining harmony within the family, can be even more difficult. Fortunately, there is help available.
Family business consulting is basically the art and science of helping a family business find the delicate balance of peace and success among the family and the business.