Updates from the President

Carol Butler, Goering Center President



Every quarter, Carol opens the Goering Center's Cincinnati Business Courier supplement with an article detailing her thoughts on current affairs, results achieved, projects undertaken and more. She shares successes and lessons learned, giving readers a breath of optimism and wisdom.

Here below are some of Carol's articles over time.

Most of us wouldn’t consider working with a builder on our dream home if that builder didn’t have a blueprint to follow. Without a plan, how will the builder and their team make our wishes a reality, much less successfully guide their subcontractors such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters through the building process?

As someone building a business, can you imagine having a blueprint guiding you and your team to the outcomes you want? A business blueprint serves to outline the choices you’ve made about how you will compete and win in your field, be it on price, value, cost, speed to market, locations, differentiation, or some other factor, such as your purpose, culture or mission. This framework determines not only where you go, but also where you don’t go. It’s something your employees should be able to understand, align with, and follow so you are working together efficiently and effectively to meet your goals.

If there’s anything the last year has taught us, it’s that the uncertain is certain. On a practical level, our recent Next Generation Institute underscored the importance of having a plan–or blueprint–in place to cover the unexpected: Although Jack Brendamour, Junk King Cincinnati CEO, didn’t find his founder’s written plan until recently, he was still able to navigate the sudden death of founder Pete McCreary just a few short years ago. The answer? Pete set them up for success – he always talked openly about the business and his plans with Jack and his team, so they knew what to do.

Plans are meaningless if they sit in people’s heads – or on a shelf. You need to communicate your plans with your team, as the Hollenkamp family confirmed during that same NGI session. When Writely Sew founder Jerry Hollenkamp experienced a near fatal heart attack, his son was able to fulfill the firm’s orders during their busiest time because he knew whom to contact to get the work done. He had clarity, guidance, and understood the direction he needed to go when facing a critical business decision.

These stories highlight how now is the time to work on a shareable plan that covers any personal and professional contingencies – that covers business decisions. At the Goering Center, we hear this loud and clear. Our own blueprint includes anticipating what our members need and building programs that meet those needs to help them thrive. With that in mind, I’m pleased to announce that we are introducing BLUEPRINT, a new program this summer. In a total of eight hours, BLUEPRINT delivers a simple, personalized framework that will give participants focus and accountability to make thoughtful decisions as they encounter changing circumstances and environments.

Most family and private business owners know what they want and need to do, but the idea of putting it on paper, let alone creating a “strategic plan,” makes them shut down. BLUEPRINT will work with one business at a time, meeting you where you are to develop your plan. Look for details on a launch event with Thrive Village, our partner in BLUEPRINT, this July.

We started to return to the classroom this month for our first in-person Leadership Development Institute session since the pandemic. We socially distanced and wore masks, and people were delighted to get back to an in person experience.

On May 20, we are hosting an in person, half-day workshop at the Goering Center on the incredibly important topic of diversity and inclusion. Next month, Josh Baron, author of the Harvard Business Review Family Business Handbook: How to Build and Sustain a Successful, Enduring Enterprise, is our guest speaker at our Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park luncheon. We will be out by the Ohio River – people will be able to spread out, and we’ll have boxed lunches to keep things safe.

We are also building on our recent economic impact study. We’ve heard from so many businesspeople who say that last year was their best year ever. What can we learn from them and how can we help you incorporate these learnings into your blueprint?

Looking to the future, our Goering Center team will continue to evolve. Effective July 1, Tony Schweier, of Clark Schaefer Hackett, will step down as Chairman of the Board of Directors; Jonathan Theders, of RiskSOURCE Clark-Theders will step into the Chairman role and Aaron Hansen, of Hansen Scaffolding, will become Vice Chair. Concurrently, Jon Adams, of SALIX Data, will transition his chairmanship of the Board of Advisors to assume a full seat on the Board of Directors; Dan Barnett, of Johnson Investment Counsel will be the new Chair of the Board of Advisors. We are deeply grateful to Tony and Jon for their generosity and meaningful contributions to the Goering Center community. We are excited for the new leadership to move their work forward and motivate our team to achieve continued success.

As the world continues to open up, we’re excited to help you do what you do best – run your business.

After a year that forced many of us to disconnect physically from people and processes we likely took for granted, it might seem odd that I want to celebrate connection.

But connection lies at the heart of family and private businesses. There are, of course, the familial and familiar ties that the business owners have to each other. And then there are the intimate and consequential ties that these businesses form with the communities that helped give rise to them.

Over generations of service, the owners of family and private businesses get to know and understand the communities they serve, growing successful businesses that succeed in no small part because they are connected to the community and answer the community’s needs.

But these aren’t one-way relationships, as our recently commissioned economic impact study demonstrates. The power of the connection between family and private businesses and our community is on full display in this economic impact study conducted by the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center.

We presented our findings at the Center’s 2021 Economic Forecast event on February 18. I’m excited to share that this study found that in 2020, our 400-plus Goering Center Core Member businesses had a total economic impact of more than $13.5 billion and directly and indirectly supported 63,858 jobs with nearly $3.7 billion in earnings in the Cincinnati metropolitan area:

  1. Core Members generated $7.4 billion of direct operating expenses and employed 29,366 individuals with wages of nearly $2.0 billion.
  2. Core Members had an additional $6.1 billion of indirect output, which supported another 34,492 jobs with earnings of $1.7 billion.

In addition - Goering Center’s Core Members generated:

  • $8.1 million in local sales tax revenue for Ohio counties
  • $42.0 million in state sales tax revenue for Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana
  • $44.0 million in local earnings tax revenue

Our study also found that relative to the impact of COVID-19, while our Core Members have been negatively affected by the pandemic, they have also displayed ingenuity and resilience and are optimistic for the future of their businesses:

  • Nearly half indicated that they have increased their use of online platforms to offer goods and services.
  • More than half (55 percent) have created new products or service offerings.
  • More than half (55 percent) believe that general business conditions will be better in six months than they are currently.

The findings are remarkable. And while in many respects it feels like we’ve lost a sense of connection to each other and our families, clients, and suppliers over the last 12 months, it’s clear that our members have figured out how to come together to work successfully. In fact, over 80% of our Core Members have been back at work through most of the last year, overcoming barriers to stay connected safely to each other as a community, business, and business family.

At the Goering Center, we’re working to keep connected with our members through our programs, workshops, institutes, and roundtables.

We’ve made these resources available virtually for now so our members can continue to share their ideas, challenges, and opportunities openly. We are looking to stream small group sessions in February and are hopeful that we can begin to have these sessions in person in the second or third quarter.

Connection will be vitally important to moving forward. There is so much opportunity in our business environment today and as we come out of this pandemic. It will be fascinating to hear about the people who’ve figured it out, adjusted, adapted, and come out stronger.

The Goering Center will be there to share these stories and help you reach out and connect with others who can be of help to you and whom you can help, too. That’s the power of connection.