Hubler For Business Families

Twin Cities Business Profile: Family Man With a Plan

Tom Hubler, who founded the Minnesota Family Business Awards in 2008, helps families pursue their financial and emotional future.

By Gene Rebeck (originally seen in the November 2014 issue of Twin Cities Business)

A family running a business shouldn't forget that it's a family. That's one of the essential messages that Minneapolis-based family-business consultant Tom Hubler tells his clients. 

"One of the things that distinguishes me is [my emphasis on] building what I call the emotional equity of your family while you're simultaneously building the equity of your company," says Hubler, founder of Hubler for Business Families. Business and financial differences can "really ruin family relationships unless you're proactive."

Families in a business need to build the emotional equity they need to get them through challenging times, and one way of doing this is by maintaining family rituals such as holidays and other celebrations. 

"At the time, there were only a handful of people in the country, and nobody here in the Twin Cities, doing succession planning for family businesses," Hubler recalls. In 1988, he and business partner Steve Swartz sold the practice, called Hubler/Swartz, to tax and consulting firm McGladrey. Hubler worked there providing similar services for three years until he launched a consultancy called Hubler for Business Families, whose work extends beyond succession planning to a broader array of services for family businesses, including drawing up business plans and formal ownership structures. 

Since then, Hubler has worked with dozens of family businesses of all sizes. Most of his clients are local, though he has worked with companies elsewhere in the country and in Canada. He has taught at St. Thomas and at St. Catherine University, and continues to teach, write, consult and speak. 

Ask Hubler what family businesses should be doing more of, and he answers: Plan. "Family businesses, when they start out, are very entrepreneurial, and they don't need a lot of formal planning," he says. "But as they go from the start-up stage or the early stages … they need to become more formalized." These formalities include creating a clear succession plan, as well as conducting regular family meetings about the business and setting rules for how members should prepare for joining the company. 

"Families in family businesses often say, "We don't need that formality and structure because we love each other,' " Hubler adds. "I say to them, 'It's because you love each other that you need structure and formality.' "

It's that approach of blending structure and emotion that has worked very well for Murphy Warehouse, a Minneapolis-based third-party logistics and warehousing company. About 10 years ago, Hubler was hired by president and CEO Richard Murphy Jr. to "help us go through a challenge that we had." Hubler met with all the parties involved, then brought them together to resolve the issues.

"He doesn't take a position per se, and he shouldn't, either," Murphy says. "He listens to all sides, and he helps everybody to understand whether they're communicating information correctly and interpreting it accordingly."

For a family business to persevere, both family and business need to flourish. "The research [shows] that when the family is in harmony, it goes straight to the bottom line," Hubler says. "Families in harmony are more profitable."

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ResourcesTwin City Business Profile - Family Man With A Plan
Tom Hubler, who founded the Minnesota Family Business Awards in 2008, helps families pursue their financial and emotional future. By Gene Rebeck (Featured in Twin Cities Business) Read More
Webinar - Formalizing the Love in Successful Family Businesses
A webinar presented by Tom Hubler for The Network of Family Businesses August 20, 2014
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Tom Hubler Interview with Southwest Initiative Foundation
Interview with Kurt Thompson - Southwest Initiative Foundation Read More
Video - Legacy & the Last Challenge of Entrepreneurship
Tom Hubler's presentation to the Edina Rotary Club - March 3, 2011 Read More
October Proclaimed Family Business Awareness Month
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie have declared October 2010 as Family Business Awareness Month in Minnesota. According to this proclamation and Family Business, 90% of the businesses in the United States are family owned, underscoring their importance to the state and national economy.  Read More
On The Air - The Peter McClellan Show
Tom Hubler was recently interviewed on The Peter McClellan Show. Listen to his interview here. Read More
Published Articles
A pioneer in family business consulting, Tom Hubler has authored many articles drawn from experience in his practice and study. We've gathered a few of Tom's most insightful and illuminating pieces in PDF form for you to read and enjoy. Read More
Tom Hubler DVD
Receive Tom Hubler's DVD, My Life and Work, My Soul and Legacy, by mailing a check made out to Hubler for Business Families for $29.95 to: 80 South Eighth Street, Suite 900, Minneapolis, MN 55402
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In our consulting work, we've found that occasionally, family owned businesses have the need of professional advice in very specialized areas, areas beyond our core expertise. For them, we have recommended some of the businesses we've successfully worked with in our 30 years of consulting. Read More
We encourage you to make use of these resources for family owned businesses. The expert information and guidance they offer can prove useful for any family business, regardless of the issues it's facing. Read More
2014 Minnesota Family Business Awards2013 MN Family Business AwardsArchive
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The Soul of Family Business


Take this risk-free first step in ensuring the continued success of your family business now. There is no charge for the orientation meeting other than out-of-pocket expenses for travel. 


Does your family business need help with succession planning, conflict resolution, management or other issues? If so, we'll arrange a one-on-one orientation meeting with you and Tom Hubler to help you explore the possibilities of working with us. If you choose, your family and business associates can also attend. Here, in a relaxed environment, you can talk about:

- Key family business issues
- Plans necessary for the success of your family-owned business
- Possibilities and expectations
- Terms of the relationship
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