CFBC President 2002-2003
It all started with a letter I received from the Executive Director almost twenty years ago stating that I might have an interest in meeting with him to discuss how the UIC Family Business Council would be beneficial to our family owned General Contracting business. As a graduate of UIC in the College of Architecture, and as an entrepreneur who was used to just running-and-gunning for the prior twenty years, this invitation could not have come at a more appropriate time. My brother had just joined our company and I had committed an ownership opportunity to him. Three of our four children had also begun to work with us in varying roles and responsibilities. I had completed some estate planning, but had not really tackled the legal and financial issues that would now be a critical part of our strategy going forward for growing the business with both family and non-family management. There was a stack of files on my desk that dealt with those issues, but putting out daily fires precluded me from doing the really important work of long-term planning and procedures so very important to a successful business family. I have said this many times about the timing of our involvement with the CFBC…sometimes you just have to stop chopping wood and sharpen the ax.
I recall vividly the first events that both my wife and I attended. There was usually a speaker who gave some much needed insight on the relationship of Ownership, Family, and Management in typical family businesses and how those intersecting circles were supposed to work. Both Kay and I were amazed how the discussions at the cocktail hour and dinners were so candid, and how open and transparent everyone was with their life stories. Often not only sharing what had worked successfully in their past experiences, but more importantly what mistakes they had made and the guidance they shared so we would not fall victim to those same errors in the management of our business. Something that continues to this day in both the meeting and event environments and, of course, in our Forums as well.
I remember the first Family Business Day that we attended. We chose to hear a discussion by Bill Lane and his family about how Atlas Material Testing Technology used a Family Business Meeting twice a year to communicate with his entire family, whether working in the business or not, and included all spouses too. He gave a detailed outline of the agenda, venue and critical features to make it a useful and successful meeting. We copied the concept and have been holding Family Business Meetings twice a year ever since, and they are a critical part of our success as a business family.
I could not help but get more involved, and joined the Sigma Forum which is still an important part of my life. I was honored to serve as President in 2003 and 2004. During that time we worked closely with Jim Liautaud to improve the organization and do a bit of retooling of the governance of the FBC and began the Leadership Forum as part of that effort. The CFBC with the tireless support of its volunteer officers, directors and committee members along with its hard working staff and strategic sponsors continue a process of constant improvement and provides enormous value to each of the members, their families and their businesses.
As Krusinski Construction Company begins our 41st year, I assure you that we would not have had the success as a company or the development as a family had it not been for our participation in the Chicago Family Business Council.