Next Generation Leadership

Family Business Speaker Sparks Conversation Between Student and Her Father

April 30, 2013 By Kristina Magnuson
Marissa Weiss, BSBA '13

Marissa Weiss, BSBA ’13

Marissa Weiss, BSBA ’13, is inspired by class speaker to talk to her father about their family business and plans to construct a board of directors…. On Wednesday, March 27th, Todd E. Schurz from Schurz Communications spoke to our Family Business class. Todd spoke with us about how his family firm has evolved over the past five generations and the importance of having a family agreement and board of directors.

Since its founding in 1872, Schurz Communications has adapted to the changing demands of the market. For example, in 1980, segment revenue was made up of 26.6% electronic and 72.8% newspaper. Today, however, it is almost exactly a third newspaper, a third broadcasting, and a third cable.

Each generation has taught the current leaders of the company what is needed to survive in this ever-changing economy. One of those lessons is to value culture and to hire those who respect the one that is already established. Evolution is an important facet of the industry and the company needs to hire those who will help it evolve. The most recent lesson learned is that in order to add independent directors, the company has to change processes and add more work for management. The best board or directors will be one composed of people who challenge assumptions and ask excellent questions.

Todd is an independent director for another family business’s board. From this experience, he has learned what can make families stronger – sticking to family and company core values. Additionally, the importance of knowing one’s role on a board and what each member brings to the team is essential.

I am only the second generation in my family business and am not working for the company after graduation. Todd E. Schurz’s presentation, however, inspired me to talk with my father about our family’s core values and when my father envisions the need for a board.