Sargento story to be featured at Family & Closely Held Business Summit

Annual BizTimes event to be held on June 14

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The story of Plymouth-based Sargento Foods Inc., a third-generation family business, will be featured at the annual Family & Closely Held Business Summit presented by BizTimes Media.

The event will be held on Thursday, June 14, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago St., Milwaukee.

Louis P. Gentine II
Deb Houden

Louis P. Gentine II (Louie), the third-generation chief executive officer of Sargento, and Tom Faley, the communications manager at Sargento who wrote a book, “Treated Like Family,” about the company and the Gentine family, will give the featured presentation.

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Gentine worked his way up through the family business. He washed trucks in high school, and worked on the production lines and in accounts receivable and retail sales during college. He also worked outside of the company for a while, as a commercial lender at American National Bank in Chicago. He returned to Sargento after earning his MBA at Loyola University in Chicago. Following several promotions, he became CEO in 2013.

Gentine and Faley will talk about the company’s history and lessons learned over the years of passing its leadership on from one generation to the next. They will share insights, philosophies and stories about the generations of family leadership of the company, its management, and trials and tribulations on its path to becoming a leader in the cheese industry.

The Family & Closely Held Business Summit will also include a presentation by Deb Houden, senior consultant for Chicago-based The Family Business Consulting Group. She will talk about how to build the underlying foundations of trust and transparency to help create and sustain a successful family business.

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Houden has experience helping families and businesses with various needs, concentrating on communication, transition and next-generation development. She has worked with numerous families on developing effective communication and conflict resolution skills, facilitating various negotiated agreements – including shareholder and family employment agreements – developing family meetings, beginning stages of board development, and working with younger generation members of family firms to create family councils. As a senior consultant with the Family Business Consulting Group, she interacts daily with several family business entities and their members at various stages of development.

Houden, who earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Wisconsin, teaches for the university’s Wisconsin School of Business in the BBA and MBA programs, and works with its Center for Professional and Executive Development providing corporate training.

She is also a fellow with the Family Firm Institute and also holds a certificate in family business advising and family wealth advising from the Institute.

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Following the presentations, there will be three 25-minute roundtable discussions on a wide variety of family business topics, including:

  • Trust and transparency in a family enterprise.
  • Internal controls project your business and your bottom line.
  • How innovation, entrepreneurship and an “employee family” built Sargento Foods.
  • Developing leadership across generations.
  • Communication and the company culture.
  • Estate planning and the family legacy.
  • Employee engagement and accountability.
  • Integrating outside family members.
  • Compensation.
  • Exit strategies.
  • Rewarding your key management.

The Family & Closely Held Business Summit is sponsored by Davis & Kuelthau, National Exchange Bank & Trust and SVA Certified Public Accountants. Vistage is a supporting sponsor. Event partners are: the Family Business Legacy Institute, Wisconsin School of Business Family Business Center and the Wisconsin Family Business Forum.

Click here to register for the event.

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