BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The Prairie Family Business Association has doubled its membership in North Dakota in the past eight months.
The Prairie Family Business Association was founded in 1993 as South Dakota Family Business Initiative. The association’s mission is to help long-term survival and success of family businesses. It does this through education and networking.
The association’s board of directors decided last March to concentrate on growing in North Dakota, Membership Manager Mike Sojka told The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/1xnz12T ). Sojka was hired in April to expand the organization into the state.
Since then, North Dakota membership has gone from 19 members in April to 39 members today. The association also has 100 members in its home state of South Dakota, 12 members in Minnesota and 11 members in Iowa.
“I also believe we have expanded because of the referrals I have received from current members,” Sojka said.
Pamela Schmidt of SIA Companies said she spreads the word about the group after the way it has helped benefit her family’s business. The Schmidts joined the association about four or five years ago after hearing about it from one of their consultants.
“At a family business, everyone is really busy,” she said. “Something has to be very worthwhile for us to do it.”
Schmidt runs SIA with her husband and two daughters. The Schmidts started the long-term care insurance business in 1979 in their spare bedroom, at a time when senior rights were starting to gain national attention. The business has since grown to 19 employees.
“It is very difficult to start and maintain a business for decades,” Schmidt said.
That is where the association comes in.
“This organization has been a great resource for helping us with some of the unique challenges that a family owned business can face. They provide training, peer groups and other helpful resources,” said Lorie Pope, co-owner of the custom IT and strategic solutions company Nexus Innovations and another longtime member of the association.
Family businesses not only face normal operational challenges. They have to balance work and home in a whole different way and work decisions can affect personal family relationships as well as the business itself.
Schmidt said during a PFBA event, everyone in the room was asked whether they put family first or business.
“I always said if you take care of the business, the business will take care of the family,” she said.
The event’s discussion reaffirmed Schmidt’s belief. SIA operates like any other business, holding family members accountable with rules and a constitution.