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A week at the top

As chairman of Ideal Industries, a wire processing, electrical and data communitions products group, Dave Juday has his hands full seven days a week. But between top ten sales meetings and writing letters to the mayor, he still finds time for a bit of woodwork

The day started with a gathering of top ten sales people at our headquarters in Sycamore, Illinois. I opened the three-day meeting by talking about company progress since the last meeting. I prepared my remĀ­arks the evening before, but used notes from recent meetings with employee groups.

Then I returned some telephone calls, especially those involving a position being debated in our community regarding the city's policy toward growth. I have a strong feeling and need to find the best avenue to make a point without being heavy handed.

At 11am I left the office for a professional advisory group meeting. Our PAG is a group put together through the Loyola Family Business Center and consists of several leaders of family-owned companies. We met at one member's plant where we reviewed her overall strategic direction and took a tour of the facility. We find these to be very helpful. We were also pleased to spend time with her son, the president.

Returned telephone calls during the 90-minute journey back to Sycamore. Put the ice out for a picnic at our house for the staff group, customer services, and the top ten sales team. In total, it was a group of 50 or so. We really enjoy these parties. We usually spend several days with the sales group earlier in the year in a Caribbean setting so it is always fun to catch up with new and old friends. Most people left around 9pm.

Met corporate development staff and the CEO to cover current acquisition activities. We reviewed the preliminary financials and decided who would be making the initial visit to their place of business.

Then I caught up on my mail and began writing a letter to the mayor regarding growth and the impact on our company and community as I saw it.

At 11am I am off to a funeral of a family friend, a member of our church, and mentor. Then I returned around 12.30pm for an informal lunch in the company break room.

I continued work on the policy position paper for the mayor until a meeting with a relatively new product manager. She would be making a presentation to our family council meeting the following week and I wanted to give her some background on our group and what she might expect. I tried to help her tailor her presentation to the capabilities of our group, but made a point not to preview her talk. It needed to be her talking, not me, in her voice.

Next were several phone conversations with other meeting presenters, along with some issues regarding the logistics of some 30 family members arriving in town and where they will stay. Supper was at home followed by an evening reviewing meeting data and relaxing.

I finished my letter to the mayor and sought a couple of opinions on it to be sure I was as succinct as appropriate without being curt.

Next, I work on next week's family meeting. I have had a diminishing role over the past few years, but wanted to be certain that nothing was dropped. Spent some time with the CEO to provide a broad guidance for his regular update on operations. His focus would be our international operations, how they change and how we see ourselves. This is a very different company than it was five years ago. I am concerned that the less engaged shareholders might feel a sense of discomfort.

Onto a meeting with a consultant from 10am to 2pm. We engaged him to help with developing the next generation of leaders and helping the current generation with a graceful transition. Several phone calls followed, some relating to the industrial park we are developing. Then I met a potential tenant in the park. It was mostly a social visit.

We met a multi-generation group of shareholders to continue work on leadership development and identify skill gaps for the younger ones. The consultants joined us for most of the day. A primary topic was the communications vehicles we want to use in the future and the organisation structure. We know what worked for my generation of leadership. What will be best for the next generation? Dinner was with the group and then it was off to a church board meeting.

Met with my sister, the family council chairman, who is also a lawyer, to discuss the status of our mother's estate. Left for a one-hour drive to meet officials at the Chicago law firm who handle the major estate planning for the family. After a two-hour meeting, I drop my sister at the airport and return home. Then it is dealing with telephone calls from the car and email at home. A quiet supper at home and some time in my woodshop caps off the evening.

Spent time with some guys from church getting material together to build a new conference table from trees we took down on the property. This is turning out to be a bigger project than we thought but it's fun nonetheless.

It's off to church in the morning, while the afternoon is split between wood projects and preparing for Monday's meetings.

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