Keeping it in the family

Edmond is full of family-owned businesses and some of them have a rich history from being handed down from the generation before.
Joe White and Danielle Hill with Shelter Insurance (Photo: <a href="https://edmondbusiness.com/author/brent-fuchs/">Brent Fuchs</a>)

A common purpose for parents is to leave a legacy for their children. That may come in various ways, such as money, life principles, or a business. Edmond is full of family-owned businesses and some of them have a rich history from being handed down from the generation before.

Conkin Financial Group

Jim Conkin opened Conkin Financial Group on January 30, 1981, to help people plan for their financial future. For 30 years, he served his clients before handing over the business to his son, Steve Conkin, in December 2010. 

Steve Conkin with Conkin Financial Group (Photo provided)

Steve grew up playing and working at his father’s business. “As a son of a small business owner, I was tasked with stuffing envelopes and doing mailers,” the younger Conkin said. “He would bring home the monthly newsletter that he mailed to his clients, and we’d sit at the kitchen table and all stuff envelopes, put stamps on them, and send them out. It was always a family business, so everybody was involved.”

Conkin always knew he wanted to follow in his father’s path. The first non-school assigned book he remembers reading was an economics book. “I was looking at my father’s bookcase, and there was an economics book with lots of graphs and pictures in it so I could understand it. I really found it interesting,” he said.

Many things have changed in Edmond and in the financial industry over the last 40 years. Still, one principle for this local business has stayed the same – the importance of relationships. Conkin asks the same questions of his clients that his father did for 30 years. “Having the relationships, understanding what clients need and what their goals are – that hasn’t changed. It’s just how we go about finding solutions that has changed,” he said.

Danforth Animal Hospital

Edmond veterinarian Dr. Adam Laughlin did not have an interest in following his father’s path at a young age. In middle school, Dr. Laughlin had a landscaping and lawn mowing business, and he pursued a landscape architecture degree at Oklahoma State University. It wasn’t until he worked in his father’s clinic, Danforth Animal Hospital, for a few summers during college that he witnessed his dad, Dr. Ron Laughlin, doing what he did best and became enamored with the work. He decided he wanted to be a veterinarian.

Dr. Adam Laughlin with Danforth Animal Hospital (Photo provided)

Dr. Adam graduated from Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009 and began working at his father’s clinic with his wife, Dr. Mendy Laughlin, whom he met while attending school. He learned a lot about being a business owner from his father before taking over the clinic full-time in 2017. 

“It was fairly easy to take over, because I’m a pretty close copy of my father, at least I hope I am,” he said. “That has been a blessing for us, that we’re able to step in and it’s not a very jarring change for our clients or my staff.”

The Golden Rule is one of the principal philosophies for the clinic that Dr. Ron Laughlin built into this business nearly 40 years ago that still rings true. “My dad’s big motivator, which he’s passed on to us is, we always try to treat people the way that we would like to be treated. We treat our patients the way we would treat our own animals, like they’re members of our family,” he said. “We have found that if you kind of stick to that, things work out pretty good. And so far, it has worked really well for us.”

Shelter Insurance Agency

Joe White and Danielle Hill working at their Shelter Insurance Agency (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

Danielle Hill is preparing to take over her father’s almost 35-year-old insurance business in January. Joe White opened his Shelter Insurance Agency in 1988 when his three girls were very young. From the beginning, his business had a lot of family involvement. 

“I’ve hired different family members over the years to do various jobs,” White said. “When we first started, my wife helped in the agency by answering the phone and front office work. As my girls got older and they were in school they would work summer times with me.”

At the age of 19, Hill worked for her father again, but didn’t stay with the family business. It wasn’t until White approached her four years ago about taking over the business once he stepped away that she considered it. 

When Hill takes over the business, White will continue working in the office, serving his clients, and mentoring his daughter. “We really hope our clients don’t even notice anything different, other than just there’s a new name on the door, but that they’ll come in here and it’s still the same place and service,” said Hill. 

The legacy that White leaves with his business is the pride of the job. “It’s not always easy to do the right thing, but I think Danielle will carry on that part of what I’ve tried to do – always do the right thing even if it costs you money.”

Working with family comes with its challenges, but White expresses it best about the positives, “It’s the fact that it’s family and you know you’ve got each other’s back.”

Joe White and Danielle Hill with Shelter Insurance (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

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About Tina Evans

Tina Evans is a leadership coach and consultant. As a certified 5 Voices and 100X Leader guide, Tina is passionate about helping leaders build organizations where everyone is empowered to bring their best and increase overall performance. She is a former senior leader for both local and statewide organizations and owns Tina Evans Coaching, LLC. She holds degrees in psychology and public relations and is certified in nonprofit management.