Barbara Dartt is a senior consultant for The Family Business Consulting Group, assisting businesses with succession strategies, long-term planning, management transitions and family governance implementation, as well as other opportunities and challenges unique to family-owned businesses.
Barb’s path into family business consulting is based in very traditional roots. Growing up, she watched her grandfather and father provide educational Extension services to family-owned farms. Her interest in serving farm families led her to study veterinary medicine, earning her doctoral degree from Michigan State University in 1996.
In 1998, Barb earned a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Economics at MSU where she worked as a graduate research assistant, then as a Farm Business Management Specialist. She continued her family legacy as a third-generation Extension agent working closely with family farms to enhance their business practices, develop management skills and identify growth opportunities.
Drawing from her strengths as a financial and project management advisor, Barb focused her career on supporting the distinctive needs of family business entrepreneurs as a senior business consultant for Salisbury Management Services (later named Lookout Ridge Consulting) in 2001. She later became a founding partner of GROW, a family business advisory firm and also helped create familybusiness.ag, a peer network of family business mentors working within the agricultural industry.
In 2014, Barb joined FBCG to leverage her extensive advising experience to work with family enterprises across industries. According to a client, “Without Barb’s help, we wouldn’t have made the progress much needed on our decision making and family relationships.”
She earned the Advanced Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute in 2014. Barb previously served as a director and is past-president of the Michigan FFA Foundation board of directors.
Barb lives in Olivet, Michigan with her husband and three children where she enjoys cooking, reading and cheering on her favorite basketball teams.
Succession & Continuity
Communication & Conflict Resolution
Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University, a Doctoral degree from Michigan State University, and an Advanced Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute.
From Michigan State University Professor Danielle Kaminski:
Thank you for sharing your time and expertise with my ABM337 course. I’ve included some thank you notes from students below so that you can better grasp the impact you had:
“I also really enjoyed how you made your presentation interactive, keeping us all involved and engaged.”
“Growing up, my grandparents owned a small apple farm in southwest Michigan. In recent years, as my grandparents have continued to age and get older they have been looking into options of passing the farm down. …All of the information you provided us with about passing down family businesses could be so helpful to my family. You stated that the new owners of the business would need to be aligned with what they want, and that is definitely not the case here. Ideally, my grandparents would like to pass down the business into even thirds, one for my mother, and one for each of my uncles. My mother does not want the farm and does not need it, whereas my uncles have worked the farm before and might possibly be interested in having it upon my grandparent’s death or retirement. My grandparents blatantly do not care what the children want and just want everything split evenly between the three of them. This is not a financially sound decision and I believe they could use advice from a family business counselor, like yourself. I plan on passing down all of this information to my grandparents and hope they can take some of it into consideration.”
“I come from a family-owned dairy farm, and one day I hope to return and take over. … A large source of any potential rough spots may very well come from an area you believe is increasing rapidly, non-operating ownership. I have two sisters who have shown no interest in returning to the farm, but they may very well inherit land or other assets that are critical to the farming operation from my parents. This is where your presentation will probably make the biggest impact in my own life. Throughout the course of your presentation, you stressed the need for communication and education of non-operating shareholders. Starting the conversations now with my parents and sisters as to what the future of our farm may look like may help make the transition smoother when the time comes. Being open and honest about what my vision is and where I see the farm heading under my management and control, and trying to align that with what my parents and siblings envision can help maintain our relationship while maintaining the healthy standing of our farm. Ensuring that my family’s farm is among the 30 percent of businesses that survive the transition to the second generation starts now, and it starts with keeping my family informed and communicating with one another. Thank you again for taking the time to come and talk to our class. I’m sure you have a very busy schedule, and it means a lot to us for you to set aside time to inform us, the new generation, about family businesses. With over half of our class coming from family businesses, and many hoping to return to them, I’m sure they would all agree with me in saying that this was a very important topic to discuss and think deeper about.”