Growing family steel business starting transition planning early

This piece is presented by the Prairie Family Business Association.

It all started in the back of an industrial machine shop in a Sioux Falls industrial park.

But 47 years later, P&M Steel has grown to a 7.5-acre full-service steel fabricator serving customers in a 100-mile radius.

The family-owned business transitioned its leader from founder Louis Profilet to his son, Tate Profilet, in 1998. And it continues to take a proactive approach to addressing the unique issues family businesses face.

P&M Steel’s Katrin Profilet, business manager, and Tate Profilet, recently reflected on its first year as part of the Prairie Family Business Association.

Question: What prompted you to join the Prairie Family Business Association? What were you hoping to gain as a member?

 Tate: When my daughter and her husband decided to return to Sioux Falls last year and join in our family business, it was time to start thinking how we do this transition to the next generation. We had many questions concerning the integration of new members into the existing management team. Through my relationship with the Lloyd family, who were just completing their transition, and the new director of the PFBA, Stephanie Larscheid, I came to realize that an association with this group would now help our family make this transition.

Katrin: As a member, I feel that this organization has given our family the tools and resources to develop functional transition and succession plans. It has also provided a great community to make meaningful connections with families in similar situations. The Prairie Family Business Association’s programming integrates all generations, provides accessible content, and promotes a community of family businesses.

Question: How has the association helped your family better plan and communicate?

Tate: We have listened to speakers and other family business owners discuss how to address a variety of issues and begin the process family meetings. 

Katrin: By offering a wide range of programming, such as webinars, affinity groups, and the annual conference, the association has broadened my perspective of the different forums and processes of healthy communication.

Question: What was your experience like at the annual Prairie Family Business Association retreat in Gettysburg?

Tate:  Besides the benefits listed above, the most important part of the retreat was our family working with a trained facilitator to discuss the process of moving our business to the next generation. This involved discussion of educating the new members and the positions that they would begin with and look to which position they ultimately aspire to. 

Katrin: The retreat in Gettysburg was a huge turning point for our family. Paul Nelson Farm was a perfect venue as it offered a setting that was secluded, comfortable and confidential, with the very best hospitality. We had five family members that attended and it was the first time that we were able to invest substantial uninterrupted time and effort into discussing the future of P & M Steel, and how it would continue to function as a family owned business. From the retreat, our family came away with an increased sense of purpose, urgency, and focus.

Question: What were some of your most memorable takeaways from your first annual Prairie Family Business Association conference?

Katrin:  First of all, it was so great to see the event space completely filled with family business members from all over the region! Another takeaway was that there is no ‘right’ way to do things, especially under the lens of family business. By listening and learning from successful leaders and successful family businesses, it gives family businesses the resources to decide their own right way to do things.

(Tate was unable to attend).

Question: You also joined one of the association’s Affinity Peer Groups are working with an advisor team. How have these outside perspectives helped your family business?

Tate:  My experience with Peer Affinity Group has reinforced my belief that working with a trained consultant is the most efficient way for my family to develop and preserve our family assets by training the current and next generation.

Katrin: Having a small, intimate group of peers who are involved in their own family businesses around the region has given me an outlet to freely discuss complex situations and receive valuable feedback. We are able to learn from one another, and take inspiration and information back to our respective family businesses.

Question: What are you most looking forward to as you grow your relationship with the Prairie Family Business Association?

Tate:  I want to learn the many aspects and responsibilities of developing a successful transition of my family business and development of my family’s trust, and be an asset to help other families.

Katrin: I am looking forward to deepening connections with the community of family businesses involved in the association.

The Prairie Family Business Association is an outreach center of the USD Beacom School of Business. To learn more, visit http://www.fambus.org.

Growing family steel business starting transition planning early

It all started in the back of an industrial machine shop in a Sioux Falls industrial park. But 47 years later, P&M Steel has grown to a 7.5-acre full-service steel fabricator serving customers in a 100-mile radius.

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