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Lessons in family business from Spiderman, First National Bank

Lessons in family business from Spiderman, First National Bank

Maggie Groteluschen
Fiduciary Services Manager

Much has been written about family businesses in America.

They produce the majority of the U.S. GDP, employ more than half of U.S. workers, and are the lifeblood of building our great nation.

At The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, we love working with and supporting family businesses because we are one.

I’m proud to work at the Bank, myself, as a fifth-generation member of the Baker family. In my 11 years with FNB, as well as my lifetime growing up here, I have learned many valued lessons about hard work, the importance of community, and what it means to be a family-first business.

My hope in sharing some of these lessons is that it will help your family business or the family business you are working for achieve success and fulfillment as well.

Define and share your culture

The values of our original family shareholders, dating back five generations, were interwoven deeply within our organization more than 100 years ago.

They guided business decisions, served as the foundation for relationships, and informed hard choices.

Nearly 15 years ago, we set out to codify these values — our FIRST Values — and define our culture in a way that was more tangible than just a feeling.

We called out each of them — Family, Independence & Innovation, Relationships, Stewardship, and Teamwork — and wrote examples of what these values look like in action.

By then putting this information into a handbook known as The First National Bank Way, we have been able to consistently teach and perpetuate our culture within the business since.

The First National Bank Way book.

The handbook is given to each new teammate from the moment they start, and The First National Bank Way is utilized in annual performance reviews, carried into difficult conversations, and referenced often in both good and challenging times.

The right answer is always there for us, in black and white, and we continue to find success by using our FIRST Values as our north star.

Introduce the next generation to your values and culture early and often

My childhood is replete with memories of coming downtown to visit Grandpa and Dad at the Bank.

My siblings and I were always welcomed with smiles and Tootsie Rolls from the teller line, then back to their offices we would roam. We colored, photo-copied funny faces, and even learned to ride our bikes in the Bank’s basement parking.

We visited Santa in the Bank lobby every year, and when he walked up the stairs to depart with his reindeer and sleigh, we would sneak up to the fifth-floor roof and undoubtedly spot Rudolph’s nose blinking somewhere over the city as Santa made his way back to the North Pole.

As I grew, I got to attend “bring your daughter to work day,” ride along to Pierre to witness lobbying for the banking industry, and participate in the Bank’s Stewardship efforts.

From a young age, I served supper at The Banquet with teammates and joined the Bank’s Corporate Cup team as it competed to benefit the YMCA. I even skipped school to attend the United Way campaign that launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in South Dakota.

Looking back now, I recognize that my parents did a great job of weaving lessons about the family business — including hard work, values, and fun — into the fabric of my upbringing.

For me, this served as a great pathway to wanting to work in the business one day.

For my siblings, this instilled in them the deep meaning of and commitment to loyal ownership of the business, even though they did not choose to turn it into their careers.

Instill in your children both pride and understanding

It is often hard to gauge how much and how soon to share about your family business with your children.

But the community is aware of your business, your family, and your success. Like it or not, your children will also be made aware at some point — in both constructive and destructive ways.

I was raised to (and try to) emulate the Spiderman approach.

In just about every rendition of the classic superhero’s story, Peter Parker’s father figure, Uncle Ben, tells him, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

In my family, that sentiment sounded a bit more like, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

To be clear: the message is not about the success you achieve, but about what you do with it.

Recognize that your family business influences and shapes the lives of its owners, teammates, customers, and communities.

Understanding the responsibility and work required to use this influence for good is something my husband and I frequently talk about with our three children.

Maggie and Kyle Groteluschen pose for a picture with their three children and Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Although they are young, they already recognize where the Bank can be seen in the community — whether it’s spotting the logo on one of our branch locations or on a t-shirt at a youth sporting event — and we celebrate and instill this pride in ownership often.

Lean into great planning opportunities

There is always a business doing similar work to yours on a larger scale.

Maggie Groteluschen meeting with Bill Baker, Bob Baker, and Chris Ekstrum in an office.At the Bank, we have built relationships with larger banks, affinity groups, consultants, and our board members, all of whom we rely on often.

We have recognized that we need outside partners in order to keep family first and at the core of our business.

We consciously work to build deep and meaningful relationships with these outside advisors to our mutual benefit.

I have repeatedly been amazed by the loyalty these actions garner and the resulting insights, direction, and lessons these valuable partners bestow.

There are always opportunities for planning and coaching; utilizing these resources has helped us navigate generational transitions, acquisitions, industry changes, and difficult conversations.

A family’s legacy is more than its underlying business

To quote Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

At First National Bank, we sometimes work with family business leaders who no longer have family members ready or willing to take the reins.

The process of navigating this reality is full of emotion, and it is important to be reminded that despite a change in leadership or ownership, your family’s legacy will still live on.

I had the incredible honor of working with my dad for seven years at the Bank.

We transitioned to a non–family member president & CEO in 2020, but my dad is still there to take my calls, offer his insights and wisdom, and, most importantly, cheerlead his daughter as she finds her own path to success and fulfillment in the family business.

Maggie Groteluschen and Bill Baker.

My dad has taught me that your legacy is about so much more than the business; it is about the people who come to work every day, the customers whose needs you meet, and the lives you enrich throughout your community because of the good you’ve done.

Despite business sales or changes, that legacy remains in countless hearts and memories.

Our family and our business are far from perfect, but we are doing a lot of things right.

I am passionate about perpetuating my family’s legacy, and I would love to help you in perpetuating yours.

If you have questions, found any of these lessons to be relatable to your own family business, or would like help with your succession planning, financial planning, or financing needs, please reach out. I’m happy to share my years of expertise in both banking and family business with you!

Have questions? We're here to help.

Maggie Groteluschen

Maggie Groteluschen

Fiduciary Services Manager
Adam Cox

Adam Cox

Executive Vice President and Chief Wealth Management Officer

Bob Baker

Executive Vice President and Director of Corporate Affairs

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