On March 27, 2019, Davis Wright Tremaine and partners the Pacific Family Business Institute and Cascadia Capital, held a lunch in Yakima, Washington as part of their Family Business Legacy Series. The lunch reviewed the results of the 2018 family business survey on corporate governance. Rich Simmonds, co-founder of the PFBI presented the survey results to a full room of Eastern Washington family business owners and managers.

The lunch also included a panel discussion consisting of: John Rothenbueler, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Kwik Lok Corporation; Megan Clubb, former President and CEO and current Board Chair, Baker-Boyer Bancorp; Co-owner, L’Ecole No. 41 Winery; and Mike Henningsen, former President and current Board Member, Henningsen Cold Storage.  The panel provided valuable insight on governance of the family and the business. The discussion was moderated by Bill Weigand, Chair of DWT’s Family Business Group.

Each panelist noted the importance and value of including outside board members (those with no ties to the family or business) on a family business’s board of directors, especially when facing significant issues like leadership changes and succession planning. While developing a governance structure may seem like a daunting task, small steps will pay big dividends. As Bill Weigand noted:

Governance is an evolving and never-ending process, not an event.  Your governance structure should change to reflect changes in the business and its ownership group. A structure that fits a $5 million enterprise owned by parents and siblings will not serve a $100 million operations owned by cousins. The important thing is to understand this and make adjustments before the business is faced with a crisis that its governance structure is not suited to handle.

DWT, the PFBI, and Cascadia were pleased to bring a Legacy Series event to Central Washington. The next Legacy Series event will be held on May 22, 2019 in Seattle, Washington.

The Survey results are available here, and DWT’s Guide to Governance is available here.

Bill Weigand provides strategic counsel to businesses, particularly in the food, agribusiness, manufacturing, and distribution industries. Many of Bill’s clients are multi-generational, family-owned businesses. Contact Bill at 206.757.8164 or BillWeigand@dwt.com.