The business of family business

The Institute for Family-Owned Business of Maine has tweaked its programming, adding networking events and an increased focus on three areas: women in family businesses, the next generation of family businesses, and executives working in family businesses.

“We have asked our members to share exactly what they want in program offerings for 2012 and we are going to deliver,” said Theresa Cloutier, chairwoman of the non-profit’s board of directors, in a recent release.

This first new event is planned for this Thursday evening from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Thos. Moser in Freeport at 149 Maine Street. The FamBiz After Hours program is a new networking event that will be offered every other month, according to the release.

The institute has added three “Affinity Groups” to its programming this year – dealing with the next gen, women in family biz and executives in family biz. Each will meet several times a year, according to the group, with the first planned for next week.

The first Women in Family Business Program will take place on Thursday, January 26th from 3:30-6:30 the Cumberland Club in Portland.  Maddy Corson and Colleen McCraken will present on how to work a room, and reservations are required.

Corson’s family used to own what is today Maine Today Media – back when it was Guy Gannett Communications – as well as several broadcast properties. McCracken is CEO of Thos. Moser.

And the institute is also launching a new program, the Family Business Forum.

The forum, according to the institute:

will serve as a community outreach effort and will be open to the public.  Membership in the institute will not be required. The launch of this series of community outreach programs will begin in late March or early April and will be launched in partnership with Governor (Paul) LePage. He shares in our passion and desire to see family business in the state of Maine SURVIVE AND THRIVE. The program format will encourage dialog between the governor, the institute, and family business owners. The focus of the program will be that of gathering information from family business owners as to their needs and to provide information and resources that will be helpful to family business owners.

Gina Weathersby, executive director of the institute, noted that family businesses make up 80 to 90 percent of all businesses in North America, according to American Management Services’ “Family Business Statistics,” from Dec. 5, 2011. Similar numbers, said Weathersby, apply in Maine.

Family-owned businesses account for 60 percent of total employment, 78 percent of all new jobs, and 65 percent of wages, she said. Weathersby also noted that a number of family-owned businesses are bedrock companies in Maine and the region, including L.L. Bean, Hussey Seating, Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers, Downeast Energy, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Gifford’s Ice Cream and Lee Auto Malls.