“Timeless Truths and Timely Topics: Lessons for Family Enterprise Success” was the theme of the Kim S. Miller Family Enterprise Institute of South Carolina’s annual conference November 2, 2023 at The University Center in Greenville.
The keynote speaker was Stephanie Stuckey, chair of Stuckey’s. She shared a rare story of a family business that actually returned to the family decades after her grandfather sold the company he built in the 1930s.
She shared how her grandfather started developing roadside stores in the closing years of the Depression. When the rationing imposed during World War II curtailed car travel and posed a threat to business, he then pivoted to supplying snacks for troops. In the postwar travel boom, he adapted to the coming of interstate highways. With its iconic logo and teal roof, there were more than 300 Stuckey’s stores at its peak. Stuckey talked about purchasing the company back in 2019, which by then was six figures in debt. Stuckey shared how the company’s new focus has been on marketing snack foods produced in their own plant, including their famous pecan rolls, to major grocery chains and other major retailers.
Additional conference sessions explored key issues facing family businesses ranging from family governance to the ever-changing technological landscape.
Chris Gantt-Sorenson and Tyler Gilliam of Haynsworth, SInkler and Boyd PA gave updates on a variety of legal matters impacting how businesses relate to their employees. During the afternoon Jean Meeks Koch, Ph.D., founder of Positively People, led a comprehensive session on family governance that explored dynamics within family business governance that can either pose a threat or ensure long-term success.
Concurrent breakout sessions were led by John Barnes, Clint Park and Richard Ray.
Barnes, CEO of Pendleton Street Business Advisors of Columbia, South Carolina, led a session on capital, control and liquidity, which he says are the three powerful levers in a family business. Park, a business consultant with Sovereign’s Capital in Atlanta, led a session on the importance of a leadership development culture and practical ways to prepare and equip next generation team members and strengthen their business. Ray, an executive level organization and leadership development professional from Clemson, South Carolina, led a session about psychological safety in the family enterprise and creating a culture that empowers individuals to express ideas, raise concerns, ask questions, challenge processes and offer divergent views. In the final conference session, Cassie Thompson SHRM-SCP with Infinity Marketing spoke about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) impacts family enterprises.
The Kim S. Miller Family Enterprise Institute of South Carolina appreciates its many sponsors who made the annual conference possible. The Platinum sponsor was South State Bank; Gold sponsors were Positively People, Sovereign’s Capital and Workforce Systems Design; Member sponsors were Bank of Travelers Rest, Caldwell Constructors, Eastern Power Tech, Godshall Staffing, Greenville Office Supply, International Plastics, Spinx and Swafford Transport.
Information about the Kim S. Miller Family Enterprise Institute of South Carolina can be found online.