Family Business

Working in a family business can be very rewarding. After all, who better to share your business success with than those you admire and love? It’s also very satisfying to see the family business succeed. However, these advantages can also bring stress and strain to your family relationships. For example, saying “no” to the boss could be saying “no” to your father or your spouse. On top of this is the added pressure of trying to sustain the business started by Dad, or ensure the future success of the business when it reaches the hands of the next generation.

This is where Smith & Gesteland’s Family Business Services Group comes into play. More than ever, family-owned businesses are approaching this critical transition stage and many don’t have a succession plan in place. Studies show that only three out of ten family businesses last into the second generation and only one out of ten last into the third generation.

Family-owned businesses account for nearly 60% of the Gross National Product and are responsible for half of all new jobs created in the United States. Yet, three-quarters will not make it past the second generation.

At Smith & Gesteland, LLP our role is not to be merely spectators, but participants and partners in the challenges that you face in running your business. We admire and respect our family business clients and deeply appreciate their unique needs. Our Family Business Services Group focuses on helping your family achieve their goals related to your “family wealth” – the human capital, intellectual capital and financial capital – that contributes to your family business success now and in the future. 

For additional information, please email David Rupp.

Services Provided to Family Businesses:


  • Estate, tax and retirement planning
  • Implementing an appropriate buy/sell agreement
  • Conducting a business valuation
  • Developing succession planning and ownership transfer processes
  • Tax planning techniques to maximize value and minimize tax liabilities
  • Financial planning assistance


  • Defining roles and responsibilities
  • Strategic planning for the unique needs that challenge family businesses
  • Planning for the future transition of management and smooth succession
  • Defining a leadership and management development process
  • Management team training and development


  • Facilitating family meetings to agree upon goals, values, and priorities
  • Developing employment compensation policies for family and non-family staff
  • Conflict management, negotiation, and problem-solving skills
  • Improving interpersonal communication
  • Establishing a governance structure
  • Defining a common vision for the organization


Smith & Gesteland is the Founding Sponsor of the Wisconsin Family Business of the Year Award. This annual program recognizes the wonderful things that Family Businesses do throughout the state. We have been presenting this award since 2004 to family businesses. For information about the award, visit

UW – Family Business Center
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Family Business Center is a membership organization comprised of a select number of Wisconsin family-owned companies. Smith & Gesteland worked with the University of Wisconsin – Madison to develop the Center. We saw the need to address the myriad of complex issues that are faced by today’s family businesses. Today, Smith & Gesteland continues as one of the Founding Sponsors of the Center.

The Center is a learning community for families and professionals committed to the growth and perpetuation of family enterprise. Members benefit from a discount on executive education, guest lecture series, and “Food for Thought” breakfast series, as well as from the expertise and experience of the Center’s director and members. Visit their website HERE.

To learn more about the UW-Madison Family Business Center and how you could benefit as a member, please contact us at

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