The Daniels-based program will host fifth-generation Colorado business owner and Daniels grad Kenny Monfort for a roundtable event in May

Bailey Program attendees posed for a photo at the Magnolia Hotel

The Bailey Program for Family Enterprise offers family business site tours for its members, at Denver locations, such as the Magnolia Hotel.

If you’ve watched TV shows like “Succession,” “Yellowstone” or “Empire,” you know that family businesses have the potential for a great deal of conflict and drama.

And while most real-life family businesses are much less eventful than their television counterparts, the Bailey Program for Family Enterprise at the Daniels College of Business was created to guide family businesses through challenges, build skills and create connections among family members to ensure long-term success.

Established in 2019 with a gift from the Paul T. Bailey estate, the membership-based program is the first comprehensive family business program in the Colorado region. It offers workshops, certificates and roundtable networking events for family businesses, family offices and family business advisors.

Its next signature roundtable event will take place from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, and feature Kenny Monfort, a fifth-generation successor to a large family business.

“The Bailey family gave the gift to start the program because they have been in business together, and they wanted to have a place for other families to learn how to successfully own and work in a business together,” said Helena Karchere, director of the Bailey Program. “You see it in the news—the legal fallout, the financial fallout, the emotional fallout for families who don’t govern well together or make decisions together well. We want to help them master best practices of family harmony, governance, financial and legal planning, and social impact so they can really thrive across the generations.”

In addition to site visits, like this one, to Polidori Sausage, the Bailey Program offers workshops and roundtables to its members.

Successes and tensions

Family businesses account for 3.3 million jobs, or 59% of the private workforce in the U.S. They tend to add jobs even in periods of high inflation, Karchere said, and their employees are more likely to be multigenerational. Family businesses also are among the highest donors to local charities and local chapters of national charities.

But underneath all those successes can lurk tensions.

“It’s questions like, ‘Are we going to talk about this big business decision around the Thanksgiving table?’” Karchere said. “What if some siblings have ownership or management in the company, and others don’t? How does that change the dynamic? How do I tell my parents I don’t want to have a role in the family business? How do I retire? How do I trust the next generation will carry on the legacy in the way that I want them to?

“We want to help people avoid the drama and focus more on the gift it can be to have something you’re sharing together, as long as it’s handled well,” she said.

In addition to workshops and roundtables, the Bailey Program offers family business site tours for its members, at Denver locations such as Polidori Sausage and Magnolia Hotel, and it is soon to launch peer forums—small, confidential support groups based on affinity.

“There will be one for rising generations in a family business, family office and others, for them to have a facilitated group with a trained coach to work on their goals and challenges and to troubleshoot together in a really safe environment,” Karchere said.

Monfort connections

When it comes to family businesses in Colorado, among the best-known names are those of Charles and Richard Monfort, owners of the Colorado Rockies and the sons of Kenneth Monfort, founder of the meatpacking and distributing company, Monfort of Colorado, which was acquired by ConAgra Foods in 1987. Charles Monfort’s son, Kenny (BSBA 2014)—executive vice president of Denver real estate company Monfort Companies—will be the featured guest at the May 7 Bailey Program roundtable event, where he will talk about being the fifth-generation leader of a successful family business.

“Getting to know Kenny Monfort has been an honor for me,” said Elizabeth Ledoux, CEO of the Transition Strategists, who will interview Monfort at the event. “Not only is he a strong leader of his multi-generation family business, he’s also a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist who has never forgotten his Northern Colorado roots. I know our attendees will enjoy hearing Kenny’s story as he describes what he and his family have done to keep their business and family intact—as well as what didn’t work out exactly as he expected.”

Karchere said the Monfort event will spotlight issues common to many family businesses: transitions between generations and balancing the family legacy with the need to innovate.

“How do you involve the next generation in a way that they want to continue on, as Kenny has chosen to do?” she said. “How do you work well between family members and deal with the pressure that comes with having that legacy? And how do you innovate and bring your own entrepreneurial spirit to it? Kenny has certainly done that, and he’ll speak to that. I think this is on the mind of a lot of rising-generation family members: How do I honor the legacy but keep moving forward?”

The Bailey Program for Family Enterprise will also host a free webinar, “From Family-Owned to Employee-Owned,” at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10. Panelists include Brad Dunn, executive vice president and third-generation owner of CK Supply Inc., and John F. Berzanskis Jr., former president of AMS Industries Inc. Visit the program’s website for more information and to register.

Discover More About the Bailey Program for Family Enterprise

The Bailey Program for Family Enterprise provides exceptional education, impactful community, research and advocacy to benefit the public good. Family businesses and family offices build relevant skills and meaningful connections for the long-term success of their enterprise and well-being of their family across generations.
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