April 20, 2024

The Robert K. Jabs School of Business at California Baptist University launched the Family Business Center on Dec. 1, 2022. The Center provides seminars focused on issues directly relevant to multigenerational, family-owned businesses. It also provides networking opportunities for students and professionals.

For the opening of CBU’s Family Business Center, the Moss Bros. automotive dealership was given a centennial award for the business’s 100th anniversary. Four generations of the Moss family have worked in the business and all four generations were present for the event.

Dr. Keanon Alderson, professor of business and director of the Family Business Center, said that only 4% of family-owned businesses manage to run the business and keep it in the family for as long as four generations. Since the opening, another seminar was held on Jan. 12 and the latest on March 16, where the seminar’s topic was Intergenerational Family Business Decision-making.

Hilda Kennedy of AmPac Business Capital interviewed the Gunewardena family of Mil-Spec Magnetics, Inc., a third-generation, minority-owned family business. Alderson himself spent 17 years as the second generation in his own family business and he wants to provide resources to family businesses to help them thrive in ways his own family company did not get.

“I wish I knew then what I know now because possibly we’d still be in business together,” Alderson said.

“The Family Business Center is going to offer to the massive quantity of family-owned businesses out there in the local area a helpful and knowledgeable resource. We’ll give them workshops, educational events, programs, seminars. There will eventually be peer groups, where CEOs could be in one peer group, and the next generation will be in another, possibly women in another one.”

One way Alderson suggests mitigating issues family businesses face is to have a family constitution.

“A family constitution is one of my favorite things to do,” Alderson said. “It’s a written document where the family works through all the sticky wickets on there, like what’s their policy on how much they get paid, what does it take to enter, what does it take to get fired, what does it take to sell — it’s super helpful for eliminating conflict and helping improve decision making.”

Michelangelo Torchia, junior political science and philosophy double major and the second generation in his family’s jewelry business Geneva Jewelry, said that the community the Family Business Center provides is an important resource.

“If we all connect with each other, with the products and essential things we all need and can use each other for, I think it’s a really good resource,” Torchia said.

Mary Lyn Baker, president of DH Casters, a third-generation family business she bought from her ex-husband, has attended all the center’s seminars so far and praises what Alderson is doing.

“I just think what Keanon is doing is a really wonderful thing of opening our eyes and surrounding us with people of like-minds and like-businesses to allow our companies to grow,” Baker said.

Students who currently do or plan to work in their family’s own family-owned business can contact Alderson at kalderson@calbaptist.edu and attend the Family Business Center’s next event on May 11 for Mother’s Day, where the focus of the event will be women in family businesses.

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