Since 1994, MassMutual Financial Group in Massachusetts has sponsored the National Family Business of the Year Program. In support of this program Montana State University-Bozeman College of Business has sponsored the statewide Family Business Day. This annual event has grown over the past nine years, and the families honored by the College of Business are great examples of what hard work and unity can do for a family owned business.

This year, two Bozeman owned businesses were selected for national awards by MassMutual Financial Group. Simkins Hallin Lumber and Dahl Funeral Cremation Services were given Honorable Mention for the National Family Business of the Year. These family owned businesses met the criteria set by the national award. Karen Vinton, Director of the Family Business Day and Emeritus professor of the MSU-Bozeman College of Business, nominated both companies.

Vinton had this to say about Simkins Hallin. "Simkins Hallin epitomizes the qualities which you are looking for in a national winner. This business has grown from a Ma and Pa operation to one of the major private sector employers in the Bozeman-area through visionary strategic business planning and ongoing succession planning. Simkins Hallin has become the one-stop building center for professional builders in the Bozeman area. Their strategic business plan has taken them from simply providing building materials to providing many value-added services for the professional builder (such as computerized estimating, roof and floor truss design and other services). Currently, the third generation is running Simkins Hallin."

She further states this about Dahl Funeral & Cremation Service. "This a family that serves families during their darkest times: the death of a loved-one. Through compassionate care, this family serves families with dignity and respect while helping families celebrate the life of a loved one. They really consider their business a ministry to the bereaved. In the words of Irene Dahl, Success is measured by the families who return to us, to care for them, generation after generation. John and Irene (brother and sister) now run the business as general managers. They feel they learned some of their best lessons from their father, Bernard. He has encouraged John and Irene to use their talents and to be respectful in their differences; he has taught them to utilize the strength in their diversity."

These two family owned business were recently honored at the ninth annual Family Business Day seminar and luncheon held at the Gallatin Gateway Inn near Bozeman. The day, hosted by the College of Business, featured a seminar on branding strategies to help grow family businesses. The presenter was Richard Semenik, Dean of the College of Business, and author of several instructional books.

The following statewide businesses were given the 2002 Family Business awards during the luncheon; Highland Liquor, Bozeman; Johnson Hardware and Furniture, Sidney; Peter Yegen Jr. Inc, Billings; Ronan Telephone, Ronan; Rudolph s Furniture, Butte; Thompson Pools, Billings; and Wendy s of Montana, Billings.