Center for Family Business at UNH helps when business is a family matter
Family businesses make up 85 to 90 percent of business in the country, and the center’s director, Barbara Draper, said the need for succession planning and transitioning assistance was identified nationally around 1993.
She said management and ownership transitions are always challenging, and adding layers of family dynamics to that does not make it any easier.
After 19 years with the center, Draper said she realizes many of the issues family businesses face are perennial, and the issues are the same no matter the size of the company.
Often, the topics of discussion are chosen directly by members.
Right now, about 25 companies are members of the center, and Draper said hundreds have come through the program over its history.
The Boissoneau family of Electropac Co., Inc. got involved with the center about 15 years ago when all five of Raymond Boissoneau’s children, including Michelle Boissoneau-DuPont, started working in the business.
She said at the time the family got involved with the center, the younger siblings were just starting out in the business and needed to understand what it took to run such a business. Three of the siblings went on to graduate from the center’s leadership program, and DuPont now serves on the center’s board.
She said the opportunity to network with other family businesses has provided some of the best education you can get.
“Some of the things we talk about are unique to a family business, and being a family and trying to work together and knowing other families are out there and dealt with this, the good and the bad,” helps, DuPont said.
This is not uncommon. Freese said less than 1 percent of family-run businesses make it to the fourth generation, and he is uncertain whether his business will make it to the fifth.
“I know at some point in my life there is going to be a death event so I have to plan for that. Even though I think I’m going to live forever, I know that’s not the case,” Freese said.
The center is housed in the UNH Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, but it is entirely self-sustaining through memberships and sponsorships.
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