Oct 6, 2017, Big Sky, MT USA. during the Montana State University Jake Jabs School of Business and Entrepreneurship Family Business Awards Luncheon. Non-transferable license is granted to MSU for all uses. All other rights reserved. © Paul Bussi, Ideal Photography Inc., 2017.Creditline: Paul

By: Audrey Capp

Twenty-five years ago, an endowment was established to honor Robert Jaedicke, a retiring Bozeman businessman and former member of the college’s advisory board. This gift has grown into a statewide business recognition and outreach program that has honored more than 150 Montana family-run businesses. The Montana Chamber of Commerce began supporting the program in 2006.

According to George Haynes, a professor and agricultural policy specialist with Montana State University Extension, about 98 percent of all businesses in Montana are family owned.

These family businesses are often the unsung heroes of a community and they serve as the lifeblood of many Montana communities. The owners help drive their local economies, serving as business leaders, supporting local causes and providing employment opportunities. These are just a few of the reasons that the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, through its State Farm Insurance Family Business Program, chooses to honor family businesses annually.

Businesses are nominated for awards and then must complete an application in order to be eligible for recognition. A range of award categories are available, including very small business (fewer than 10 employees); small business (10–30 employees); medium business (30–50 employees); large business (more than 50 employees); old business (operating at least 50 years); and new business (operating 10 or fewer years). An independent panel of judges reviews the applications and selects the award winners.

Over the years, honored businesses have ranged from farms and ranches to breweries to manufacturing companies. They have also included furniture, funeral home, and roofing companies, as well as grocery stores, general contractors and vehicle dealerships, among many other businesses.

For example, Kaufman’s Menswear won a Family Business Award in 1996. The company was established by Mose Kaufman, a German immigrant who arrived in Montana in 1880 via riverboat. Since then, the company has remained in the family, with two of Mose’s three sons, Fred and Ira, and then his grandson Ike and great-grandson Brian, joining the business.

Ike told us the best part of running a family business has been the connections he has established with his customers over the years. He enjoys the work and, even though he is over 80 years old, he still spends the majority of his time at the store.

Ike noted that the business owners who have been recognized by the Family Business Program are, themselves, a sort of family.

“The program connects you to other people like yourself,” Ike said. “It’s nice to have those relationships and to have others to talk to about similar issues in business.”

Perhaps that’s why, over the years, college administrators can’t recall a time when a business that has won a Family Business Award from MSU has ever failed to have at least one person attend the award ceremony in Bozeman.

This year’s special awards and networking event, as a part of MSU’s 125th anniversary and in partnership with the Montana Chamber of Commerce, will take place on Friday, October 26 starting at 4 pm at the Hilton Garden Inn, in Bozeman.

The 2018 winners are: Eaton Turner Jewelry of Helena in the very small business; Collection Bureau Services, Inc. of Missoula in the small business category; Montana Ale Works of Bozeman in the medium business category; A.M. Welles, Inc. of Norris in the large business category; Hayden Truck Repair of Belgrade in the old business category; and Tongue River Winery of Miles City in the new business category.

For more information about this program or to attend the awards and networking event, please contact Anna Reardon at [email protected], 406- 994-6195 or visit our website:

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