in the family
students shine in 'business of the year' contest
for this year's Illinois "Family Business of the Year" gave
the Kellogg School's EMBA
program a few more reasons to be proud of its "family."
those honored were two companies whose senior leaders have
links to the EMBA program: Steve Hester of Hester Decorating
Co. Inc., which won in the "medium" category for businesses
with 50 to 250 employees, graduated from EMP-58 in January.
And Oberweis Dairy, the winner in the "large" category for
businesses with more than 250 employees, as well as the community
service winner, is the family business of Joe Oberweis, who
began his EMBA studies in January as part of EMP-64.
award roster also included two Kellogg EMBA program connections.
Winner Reed Construction Co. is the enterprise of EMP-53's
William Birck and his family, while finalist W.S. Darley &
Co. is the family business of Paul Darley, also of EMP-53.
winners, selected for their commitment to both business and
family, received their awards in a Dec. 9 ceremony at Chicago's
Four Season's Hotel. The awards, given by Loyola University's
Family Business Center, recognize the companies for their
multigenerational span, community contributions and innovative
Oberweis, president and CEO of Oberweis Franchise Systems,
the retail arm of Oberweis Group Inc., the recipe for success
includes providing "the best product you can buy" and "approaching
business in a fair manner." As part of its commitment to family
values, the dairy company offers $500 college scholarships
each year to its scoopers — most high school students
who squeeze in the job around classes and extracurricular
Birck's family business, Reed Construction Co., prides itself
on helping clients complete projects on time and on budget
— in an industry plagued by chronic lateness and ballooning
budgets, no less. Recent work includes a 35,000-square-foot
interior build-out for the American Cancer Society headquarters
at 225 N. Michigan Ave.
EMBA connections among award winners came as no surprise to
faculty and staff, who have witnessed students' increasing
focus on family business issues. EMBA students have organized
a special-interest group for those with a family business
bent, in which guest speakers share their perspective on mixing
"relatives" and "résumés" and fellow students give personal
advice on navigating challenges.
and professional challenges visited Hester Decorating Co.
after Steve Hester's brother Danny, who ran the company's
downtown location, died unexpectedly in 2001. Steve Hester
and family made it through that rocky period, he says, with
help from the high-end painting company's employees. Confronting
those challenges has only made the company stronger, Hester
Ward, clinical professor of family enterprise and co-director
of the Kellogg Center
for Family Enterprise, says family businesses encounter
numerous roadblocks. Like all companies, they are facing "shorter
and shorter life cycles" as they must keep up with technological
advancements and concomitant strategic challenges. Another
perpetual challenge for those who mingle work history with
family history: finding the right combination of "old" and
"new" to keep the enterprise chugging along.
always a challenge balancing the past traditions with the
new change needed to grow," Ward says. "Many of the skills
students learn at the Kellogg School — negotiations,
teamwork, strategy and change management, for example —
can help them make that leap."
of the 2004 Illinois Family Business of the Year Award have
found innovative ways to keep their family monikers alive