In between baking breads, buns, croissants and frying signature donuts, the owner of a premium bakery products provider realized he needed to find the recipe for something his own business needed: a board of directors.
“As our business continues to grow and perhaps my time horizon being active in it every day wanes, I felt like if something were to happen to me unplanned that a functioning board of directors would help our family continue to effectively operate,” said Guy Moos, CEO of Baker Boy, which is based in Dickinson, North Dakota.
Moos and his sister, Midgie, bought the business from their father, Marvin, in 1990. Since then, it has grown to become a national provider of baked products to food service, retail and convenience store distributors. While the pandemic first “kicked us in the teeth” because much of the products were sold to restaurants and schools, ultimately “we were able to add a lot of customers in the in-store bakery arena,” Moos said.
“Prior to COVID, we were in 15 states, and today we’re in 37 states thanks to our colleagues who continued to work hard throughout it all.”
The two siblings, Moos’ wife, Sandra, and the company’s chief operating officer are its current board members. Moos, however, has committed to growing the board following his attendance at the Prairie Family Business Association’s board school last year.
“It was extremely helpful. I think it’s normal for entrepreneurs to resist having a formal board. The school helped me understand the function of the board, whether it’s fiduciary or advisory,” he said. “I committed to my classmates that I plan to add one outside member a year for the next four years, so it’s going to be a transition.”
The family plans to continue to work on the board early next year, attending the Prairie Family Business Association Board Bootcamp Jan. 10 at the beautiful Fargo ClubHouse Hotel & Suites.
“I’m leaning toward creating a full fiduciary board. But we still have a great deal of work to do, creating an owner manual and plan, and at the boot camp our family can hear firsthand from the experts why this is really good for us,” Moos said.
His daughter and only child, Melissa, worked outside the business before joining it nearly four years ago as an entry-level production tech, working her way up to team leader on the donut line.
She recently attended the Prairie Family Business Association’s Next Gen Retreat.
“As an only child, I don’t really have anyone to lean on in regard to being the next generation,” she said. “So the biggest thing was just to meet some new people who are in a similar situation that I could make a lifelong connection to and reach out if I have questions.”
As the business has looked to hone its governance and transition planning, the association has been key, her father added.
“Prairie Family Business has been really good for myself and I think good for my family to increase our involvement,” Moos said. “I would certainly encourage other family businesses that are family owned to get involved as well.”
What to expect
Board Bootcamp is intended for business owners considering establishing an advisory or fiduciary board as well as those who want to increase the effectiveness of a current board. It’s also a fit for board members and owners or family members who want to better understand the role of a board.
“We have a fantastic lineup of facilitators who are truly experts in their field,” Prairie Family Business executive director Stephanie Larscheid said. “We’re excited for our families to connect with them and leave with truly actionable plans. As the Moos family demonstrates, dedicating time to programs like these can lead to generational impact for a family business.”
The program will involve:
Talent board and family, conducted by Agatha Johnson
- Placing talent on the board versus hiring a consultant.
- Representing the family to the board, especially as the family tree grows.
- Role of the senior generation as they step out of a day-to-day role in the business.
Recruitment and execution, conducted by Joe Astrachan
- Where to find new board members.
- What’s most and least important in a board member?
- Great board agenda.
- Chair’s role during and between meetings.
Evaluations, accountability and competencies, conducted by Claudia Binz Astrachan
- Holding family accountable.
- Holding management accountable.
- Handling situations where board and/or management defer to the founder for decisions.
- Training the next generation.
- Independent board members.
Training and compensation, conducted by Sandra McNeely
- Training and onboarding new board members.
- Compensation of board members.
- Board committee structure.
Balance point system, conducted by Larry Hause
- Owner/Board/Management (OBM) System.
- Owner plan.
- Owner manual.