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Family Business Symposium Shares Lessons from Area Leaders

Last month on January 24th, 2017, the Puget Sound Business Journal hosted an extremely successful Family Business Symposium, inviting the leaders, employees and partners of businesses in the region that are owned and operated by members of the same family to discuss issues ranging from formal succession planning to the personal insights that come from operating a firm alongside multiple generations of the same family.

Garvey Schubert Barer represents dozens of family businesses and was proud to be a sponsor of the event. We were excited to see hundreds of attendees show up to hear from some of the region’s most successful family businesses.

Family businesses account for 64 percent of the United States’ annual GDP and account for billions of dollars of revenue in the Puget Sound region. They are often major drivers of regional economic activity, charity, community building and politics.

As an adviser to family businesses for more than 20 years, I helped moderate a panel at the event with several of the region’s top family business leaders:

  • Steven Goldfarb, President, Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler
  • OB Jacobi, President, Windermere Real Estate
  • Denise Moriguchi, President, Uwajimaya, Inc.
  • Kari Rowley Magill, CEO, Rowley Properties Inc.

Many of the panelists were very open about the challenges that come with operating a family-owned business. Some spoke of the uncomfortable conversations that must be had to create a strong succession plan that will ensure continued operations. Others recounted how they navigated difficult personnel decisions when some family members were not as engaged with the business, or with members employed by the firm that were not performing up to expectations.

At the same time, the satisfaction that comes with building a business and sharing the success with your family was apparent among all panelists and attendees. Many said they would have it no other way, and stressed the importance of establishing corporate governance that places family control as a key priority over others.  

Given that hundreds of people were in the audience, it was a refreshingly honest and open exchange.

The PSBJ also released its ranking of the top family businesses in the region, and recognized the Sabey Corp. with its inaugural Puget Sound Business Journal Family Business of the Year.

It was a great learning opportunity and celebration of family-run businesses. GSB is looking forward to next year’s event!

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Garvey Schubert Barer’s family-owned and closely held businesses practice group comprises strategic advisors and core practitioners who understand the intersection between law and the unique challenges of running a family business. With more than one hundred years of combined experience, our family-owned and closely held businesses practice offers clients extensive resources and a knowledgeable team of family wealth advisors across the Unites States.
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