The 2008 Prairie Family Business of the Year Award was awarded to the Mills family of Mills Property Management in Brookings, S.D., while the Summers family of Mitchell Iron and Supply in Mitchell were runners-up for the honor. The Roberts family of State Publishing and Printing in Pierre, S.D., received the coveted Heritage Award during the awards banquet on Thursday, April 24. Howdy Holmes, president and CEO of Chelsea Milling Company, was the banquet’s keynote speaker.

Family business leaders, as well as succeeding generations and their advisors, had an opportunity to participate in several conference activities, including educational sessions addressing family issues, ownership issues and general business issues. Mike McGrann, nationally recognized family business educator and director of the Institute for Family Enterprising at Babson College, provided the opening educational session. McGrann focused on helping families identify and understand their unique competitive advantages and to develop steps for handling the challenges of dealing with difficult transitions. He also facilitated a panel on building a successful family enterprise as well as a discussion with families who have sold their businesses.

Statistics show that while the majority of businesses nationwide are family owned and operated, only 33 percent of these enterprises are succeeded to the second generation, while only 12 percent make it to the third generation.

"Understanding the family business system as well as the unique dynamics presented in this system is critical to beating these odds," commented Beth Adamson, executive director of the Prairie Family Business Association. "This conference is recognized as the number one family business networking event in the region. Business owning families had the opportunity to learn from top educators, but more importantly, they had an opportunity to meet other business owning families who are tackling some of the same issues."

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