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Midwest Chapter Event

Putting the Success in Succession: What’s next - a Family or Outside CEO

When: Thursday, November 20, 2014
From 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Where: Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
191 N. Wacker Drive
Suite 3700
Chicago, IL  60606
United States
Contact: Midwest Chapter of FFI
617-482-3045 x27

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Putting the Success in Succession: What’s next - a Family or Outside CEO

Transition to the next generation has always been difficult in a family business but now families are dealing with an additional question due to demographics. Traditionally there was a typical 20 year age gap between Dad and the sons in the next generation. Now more families are experiencing a 30 year age gap between generations and competent daughters are often qualified candidates along with the sons for the CEO job. These demographic changes have begun to affect the process for training and selecting the next CEO. As a result, a non-family outside person is often being considered as an interim CEO and next generation mentor to bridge the age/talent gap. How should the family deal with this additional complexity in selecting the next CEO?


Join the FFI Midwest Chapter for a panel discussion that will shed light on these questions.  This panel discussion will present multiple perspectives on the transition dilemma and the process to reach a satisfactory selection of the next CEO.



Presenters include:


Dennis Kessler, Founder and President of Midwest Family Business Advisors


Midwest Family Business Advisors help families to overcome the challenges inherent in mixing business with family. This includes helping families develop next generation leaders, enhance communications, resolve conflicts and develop succession and business continuation strategies.


Dennis Kessler, was Co-President of his family Company, Fel-Pro, before founding Midwest Family Business Advisors in 1998. Fortune Magazine ranked Fel-Pro as the fourth best company to work for in America. Fel-Pro was in Dennis’ family for 5 generations spanning 80 years until it was sold in 1998. Dennis along with three other members of the fourth generation were leading the Company after a successful transition from the third generation. The family was preparing the next generation for transition to a leadership role at the time of the sale. Dennis currently serves on the Board of Directors of, W.E. O’Neil Industries, MFRI Inc., and SWANK Motion Pictures.


Shad Peterson, President of Sasser Family Holdings


Shad Peterson, is a 4th generation member of Sasser Family Holdings, a family-held transportation asset services and management company. At the time of Shad’s appointment as President, Fred Sasser, the CEO, stated; "Shad being elected to the role of President illustrates that we are all only temporary stewards of the business, the future belongs to the coming generations… we are responsible for handing down a business that is stronger and more competitive, so that the next generations can do the same. We are very fortunate to have a strong set of family values that has enabled us to stay committed to the businesses for nearly 85 years.


Shad Peterson has served within the organization since 2005 when he joined the organization as President of subsidiary business, Union Leasing. Shad has been a key figure establishing a secure foundation for the future growth and expansion of the business. Peterson additionally holds the title of Chief Operating Officer of Sasser Family Holdings, as well as head executive of each of the subsidiaries business units. Mr. Peterson has spent 20 years in the transportation and strategic consulting services industries with an education background in economics and government.


Richard W. Pehlke, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Heidrick & Struggles


Richard Pehlke is a member of the Heidrick & Struggles Executive Committee. Heidrick & Struggles assists companies with executive searches, culture shaping and leadership consulting. They have placed many non-family members into the role of the CEO of family businesses.


Prior to joining the firm, Rich was the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Grubb & Ellis, and executive vice president, chief financial officer and director of Hudson Highland Group. Rich has over 35 years of global corporate financial leadership experience in the business services, telecommunications, food and consumer products, financial services and commercial real estate. Rich currently serves as a board member of Ideal Industries and Valparaiso University.


Jim James, Chairman and CEO at IDEAL Industries, Inc  


Jim James is the non- family Chairman and CEO at IDEAL Industries a family owned company. He has 28 years of manufacturing experiences across a broad range of industries including metal fabrication, aerospace chemical adhesives and building components. Prior to IDEAL, he spent 16 years with Illinois Tool Works (ITW) where he held many positions, ultimately acquiring the position of Group President. During his tenure at ITW he had worldwide responsibilities for the management and coordination of many different business units in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and South Africa.  

Jim received an MBA from Georgia State University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology (Manufacturing Engineering) from University of Wisconsin – Stout. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for Master Chemical, Wall Family Enterprise and junior Achievement – Chicago.  


Torrey Foster, Partner at Heidrick & Struggles  


Torrey Foster is a partner in Heidrick & Struggles’ Chicago Office, currently serving as region leader for the Americas with responsibility for overseeing the firm’s business operations within the United States, Canada & Latin America. In addition to his management responsibilities, Torrey personally leads senior level executive search assignments, Principally CEO, president, CMO and CHRO engagements for consumer-facing clients. His client base includes brand name Fortune 500 corporations as well as middle market private or investor-owned companies and early stage entities, all in the greater consumer arena.