CEL graduates first class of family business leaders

At the graduation ceremony, Arjang Assad, dean of the UB School of Management, and Mary Nicoletti, senior program coordinator for the Center of Entrepreneurial Leadership, unveiled a plaque honoring the inaugural members of the CEL Family Business Association. (Photo by Nancy J. Parisi)

Release Date: July 7, 2014 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Dozens of local entrepreneurs and professionals are now better prepared to tackle the unique challenges of running a family business after completing the first-ever “Growing a Healthy Family Business” course, part of a new initiative that launched this year in the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL).

Forty-five representatives from 14 family businesses finished the course and were honored at a joint graduation ceremony for four CEL programs on June 5 at UB’s Center for the Arts.

The graduates and their businesses are:

Mike Sr., Kurt, Mike Jr. and Stephen Adolf of Buffalo Alarm, Buffalo; Brendan and Debbie Brick of Power Tools & Abrasives Inc., North Tonawanda; Gary, Nancy and Benjamin Case of The Carpet Collection, Lockport; Joseph and Penny Cipolla of Bella Vista Group, Bowmansville; Alan, Greg, Jeff, Keith and Steven Davis of Tapecon Inc., Buffalo; Jeffrey and Adam Goldfarb of Jeffrey M. Goldfarb & Associates, Buffalo; Keith and Karl Hetrick of Niagara Frontier Equipment Sales Inc., Lockport.

Also, Angie and Kristina Kleeh and Lisa Stefanie of The Synergy Group of the Niagara Frontier, East Amherst; Jeannette, Natalie and Neal Kreher of Kreher’s Farm Fresh Eggs LLC, Clarence; Marvin, Lisa and Bailie Ohlson of Ohlson’s Bakery & Café, Williamsville; Thomas, Liza, Amanda and Krystina Pane of The Grapevine Restaurant & Catering, Amherst; Thomas, Christine and Matt Schuster of Schuster Construction LLC, Depew; Jim Sr., Margaret, Gregory, Jim II, Kathleen and Rachael Serafin of QMC Technologies Inc., Buffalo; and Diana Stefanovich and Brian and Jason Cary of Christie’s Restaurant, West Seneca.

“Growing a Healthy Family Business” is a 10-session course that meets twice a month over five months. It empowers family members to come together to identify and apply solutions to help their businesses thrive for generations to come. Developed collaboratively with family business experts of diverse disciplines, seasoned entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the UB School of Management, the course delivers practical solutions on topics relevant to family businesses, including communication, interpersonal relationships, conflict resolution, strategic planning and succession and next-generation leadership planning.

“The family businesses that participated in this year’s program are walking away with practical tools, clarity, strategic vision and a community of support to assist them in preparing for transitions from one generation of leadership to the next,” says Thomas Ulbrich, executive director of the CEL. “As these family businesses make smooth and successful transitions, they are able to continue their legacy, create jobs and continue to be a meaningful contributor to the Western New York economy.”

The course is available exclusively to members of the CEL Family Business Association, a new initiative launched in February to support the unique challenges associated with family businesses while also addressing the traditional needs of any entrepreneur. Association members receive complimentary registration to quarterly networking events and semiannual workshops with expert speakers, discounted registration for professional development opportunities and, beginning in January 2015, access to professionally facilitated peer support groups.

“Our mission is to support the power of entrepreneurship to launch human potential, inspire innovation, produce jobs and generate wealth through interactive education in entrepreneurship,” Ulbrich says. “The Family Business Association and the ‘Growing a Healthy Family Business’ course bring together the dynamic regional family business community and provide specialized support so they can continue to thrive from one generation of entrepreneurs to the next.”

In addition to the graduates’ companies, the inaugural members of the association are: Dwight Moldenhauer Inc., Buffalo; EGW Personnel Staffing, Buffalo; Harbison Bros. Inc., Buffalo; Holland NASCAR Motorsports Complex, Holland; Holland Paintball Adventure Park, Holland; Insty-Prints of Cheektowaga, Cheektowaga; Kirst Construction Inc., North Boston; Manitoba Corp., Lancaster; Metal Cladding Inc., Lockport; Parkland Professional Park LLC, Orchard Park; and Wrights Corners Self Storage, Lockport.

During the graduation ceremony, Arjang Assad, dean of the School of Management, and Mary Nicoletti, family business program coordinator, unveiled a plaque honoring the association’s founding family businesses.

The CEL is currently enrolling new members in the Family Business Association. The center will host a workshop for members in September, and the next “Growing a Healthy Family Business” course will kick off in February 2015. For more information, contact the CEL at 716-885-5715 or mgt-cel@buffalo.edu.

Established in 1987, the CEL provides participants with individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship. More than 1,200 CEL alumni employ more than 22,000 Western New Yorkers, and their businesses are worth more than $2 billion to the local economy. For more information, visit mgt.buffalo.edu/cel.

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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Matthew Biddle
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School of Management