SOME NICE THINGS PEOPLE HAVE SAID about the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley, as well as Ira Bryck, the center president
I go to many networking events in the Pioneer Valley, and have built some great relationships doing so, but I find the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley events to be something different. You get a much wider cross section of companies and industries, from small one- or two-person storefront businesses to large industrial manufacturers. It is actually refreshing to walk into a room and not know 80% of the people there. It means that I get exposure to people and businesses who I could not meet any other way, and reminds me of the wonderful diversity of businesses in our area usually not represented at traditional events. And because we are all there to learn, I find the conversations I have and the relationships I develop are often more meaningful. You are among peers and colleagues, and we interact each other that way. I highly value that environment.
Meghan Lynch, Six Point Creative Works
While Paragus isn't what you'd consider a traditional family business, we see ourselves as a tight-knit community working together to achieve success. We view the FBC as a great way to help us strengthen those bonds and grow as a company.
Delcie Bean and Jim Young, Paragus IT
Just wanted to let you know how proud we are of you for doing such a great job with the center. You are an outstanding executive director with world class skills. It's been a pleasure knowing you and having the opportunity to watch you develop this center and how you've grown professionally . Kudos to you!! You should stand proud of what you've accomplished in your career with the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. Can't explain in words the regard we have for you.
Rick and Ross Giombetti, Giombetti Associates
The Family Business Center provides me education that I can't do without and never have time to seek on my own. Our leadership team also benefits from and enjoys regularly attending FBC events.
John Dion, Dion Label Printing
I have known Ira Bryck for more than ten years and it never ceases to amaze me how easily he can establish rapport and communicate with people from totally different cultures and traditions. Over the years, he met with and arranged site visits for dozens of groups of international visitors who visit this country and never turned down my requests. He feels very comfortable talking to a group of complete strangers who do not speak English working with and through an interpreter (and that is a skill in and of itself) and discussing very personal things. And it is always very personal with Ira: he can openly talk about his life and family and any number of things he feels might help future and current business leaders make their business more productive and more successful. Every meeting with Ira brings something new and valuable, because it comes not just from his experience, but also from his heart.
Andrei V. Izurov, Interpretation|Communication|Consulting, Amherst, Massachusetts
I strongly endorse Ira Bryck and the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley for any business... large or small. Where else can you find an organization so passionate about bringing local companies together, hosting cutting edge education and facilitating round tables? Getting to know Ira and the FBC might be one of the best business decisions you've made in a long time.
Mark Borsari, Sanderson MacLeod
MBK believes in the power and potential of Western Massachusetts. It’s because of this belief that we are such strong supporters of the Family Business Center of the Pioneer Valley. The FBCPV is an invaluable resource for knowledge and strategy in our market place, allowing small businesses access to some of the best facilitators and business strategists in the area. Resources that might not otherwise be available without significant cost.
Kristina Drzal Houghton CPA, Meyers Brothers Kalicka, PC
There's many groups you can "belong" to, but few where you feel like you really BELONG! It's been a privilege learning from this diverse group of people, many of whom I call friends. And it's real-world stuff you can take back to your professional and personal life and apply.
Ross Giombetti, Giombetti Associates
Our firm is privileged to be a sponsor of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. It's our business to help owners to retire from their business and there is no better place in Western MA to learn and keep on top of the challenges facing family businesses, including issues of succession, retirement and exit planning. In addition, the programs, networking, and the ability to use Ira as a resource make our sponsorship a bargain.
Michael W. Camerota, J.D. principal of Touchstone Advisors LLC
I have found that the monthly Friday morning roundtables / workshops are relevant and timely topics. I had been "playing around" with some of the ideas that were discussed and found that I either hired one of the speakers to accomplish the task or it motivated me to undertake the idea and move on from neutral and to first gear. The speakers have been very engaging and the discussions right on target. These have absolutely been beneficial as the topics are what we deal with or choose not to deal with every day.
Mike Buell, Wright Architectural Millwork
Family-owned businesses are the mainstay of our economic community, and gaining a better understanding of this population’s challenges, concerns, and goals only helps me, as a banker, to better serve their needs. My involvement with the FBC gives me the opportunity to meet with members, learn about their businesses, and offer financial guidance tailored to their needs – including those unique to family ownership and management.
Allison Standish-Plimpton, Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager, Business Banking, First Niagara Bank
The Friday morning workshops are a perfect blend of roundtable intimacy and expert facilitation. Small enough to be comfortable and open, yet focused and efficient. They've been hugely beneficial for just a small investment of time.
Todd Harris, 42 Design Fab
My organization, the Institute for Training and Development (itd-amherst.org), specializes in conducting international training and exchange programs for students and professionals from all over the world. Recently we hosted a very successful, week long program titled "Global Entrepreneurship and Marketing Boot Camp" for 20 students from the Monica Herrera Marketing and Communications University in El Salvador. Ira proved to be an essential partner in the planning and implementation of this program. With Ira's help we were able to put together and intense week that combined lectures and workshops with nationally recognized faculty from UMASS' Isenberg School of Management, site visits to exemplary businesses in the area and hands-on meetings with highly-regarded area business leaders. One of the highlights was a visit to the Sanderson MacLeod Company organized by Ira. During the visit students were able to engage in a "Lean Manufacturing" exercise known as Ohno Circles. Following the visit students analyzed their observations and developed recommendations that they presented to the appreciative company managers. Professors accompanying the students declared that the program exceeded their expectations because it contained an effective mix of theoretical and practical sessions. In addition, students were very appreciative of Ira's valuable facilitation skills and genuine warmth whenever he interacted with them. Ira's deep commitment to educating future business leaders and extensive Western Massachusetts business network made all the difference.
Mark Protti, Executive Director, Institute for Training and Development, Amherst, MA
The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley is a tremendous resource to the business community. I always walk away from these nights with new friends, and a head full of knowledge.
Thom Fox, BrunoFox Group
What keeps me coming back month after month? Top-notch dinner forums of unrivaled substance and depth, as well as skillfully facilitated roundtable discussions with thoughtful, engaged peers.
Carlyn Saltman, Carlyn Saltman Coaching
I selected Ira Bryck to join our first Entrepreneurial Family Firms Academy (EFFA) for two primary reasons; first, his depth of knowledge of the family business arena, and second, his candor and honesty in dealing with challenging issues related to family enterprise. The students (a group of business students already working in their family businesses in Mexico) all agreed he was the best instructor of the week. His style, while not confrontational, helped students address many difficult issues pertaining to their role in the family firm, attaining lofty goals and asking the right questions. Ira was prepared, flexible and as always a pleasure to work with.
The top-notch motivation, support and networking we receive from the Dinner Forums, speakers and Ira, helps us to be progressive and achieve our commitment to never ending self improvement. We have recently been inviting our entire management team to attend, as their schedules allow, and at least one or two have attended each meeting. I'm happy to say our entire team is here with us tonight! It gives us a chance to have our "team" hear the speakers and topics first hand and then discuss and implement what we have learned faster and more effectively...not to mention the great social opportunities as well.
—Dave and Anne Cistoldi, FLN MAR Rubber & Plastics Co.
Ira is a multi-talented, brilliant consultant and impresario. He provides a venue for thought leaders who provoke and inspire leaders to think...and feel...before taking strategic action. He is willing to move people beyond their comfort zones while providing great resources to help them succeed.Ingrid Bredenberg M.A. , Bredenberg Associates
I am deeply honored and proud both professionally and personally to write a recommendation for Ira Bryck. He is a forward thinking and progressive leader in the area of entrepreneurship with his main focus on family businesses. Ira consistently demonstrates a deep dedication to his family businesses, his colleagues, and his local and world communities. His integrity and sense of entrepreneurship is unquestionable. I salute him. His track record speaks for itself. Under the leadership of Ira, The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley has soared to new heights evidenced by growth, respect and credibility he has earned from all business members, business advisors, and his local community. He focuses on ideas that motivate, grow and unite. Ira believes in building bridges to create economically vibrant companies and he believes in joining hands with all small businesses and the local community to elevate all through cooperation and common purpose. Strategic planning has long been an important part of Ira’s business career and the development and growth of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. Over the many years, I have worked with Ira on numerous strategic planning sessions and business development sessions. His attention to details, his instantaneous follow up skills and his mind-set of deliberative thinking help with achieving forward thinking and proactive results that are attainable by the companies with flourishing and lasting results. I look forward to working with Ira for many years to come. I would be happy to provide additional comments upon request.
Ira: Well done yesterday, at your presentation to the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. I too enjoyed listening to your thoughts, suggestions, and comments. You spoke from a position of knowledge, experience, and background. I was impressed with your breadth/depth of current literature and research on the topic(s). It was evident that the group too enjoyed the session by their participation and comments/responses. You scored a hit for yourself, the Center, and CPE. Thanks
I am happy to recommend Ira Bryck to you as one of the most knowledgeable people anywhere in the field of family business dynamics, relationships, and challenges. Ira and I began our education in the field of family business sixteen years ago when we became founding directors of the Family Business Centers at the University of Massachusetts and the University of New Haven. During my collaboration with Ira I found him to have an insatiable appetite for all he could learn about families in business. While I have long since left the University of New Haven, his program at UMass has since been recognized as one of the very best in the country. Beside his skill and accomplishment as a Director, Ira has also consulted with families in business for many years. He is knowledgeable, compassionate, attentive, and continuously attends workshops and conferences to improve his consultation skills. While there are many who consult with family businesses as a “sideline” to other careers, Ira has made the study and assistance to family business owners his only career and a real passion for a very long time. Please feel free to contact me if you feel a need to discuss his qualifications in more detail. Michael W. Camerota, J.D., Certified Business Intermediary, Touchstone Advisors, Enfield, CT
ABOUT IRA BRYCK'S WORK AS A FAMILY BUSINESS ADVISOR:
Our company needed to step back and think critically about what we had become and our future potential. Ira lead our team in a modified SWOT analysis to help us explore our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. As always, he was an excellent facilitator, and asked excellent probing questions that got us thinking differently, and also illuminated areas that needed more specific exploration. Our entire team enjoyed having him with us, and felt that he brought us to a place that we wouldn't have been able to reach on our own. It was a great kick-off to a longer term process, and we look forward to having him back.
Meghan Lynch, Six-Point Creative Works
Calling Ira Bryck to consult with our family was a valuable business decision. He gave us a creative way to communicate and identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement that will help us move forward. He was thoughtful in his approach and his vast experience in family business dynamics made him a valuable resource for us.
We were very pleased with the process and the product that came of Ira Bryck helping us at Westside Finishing create a meaningful mission statement. Ira gathered information (both through a questionnaire and a gathering) from the owners, managers, and front line employees, on the subject of how and why Westside Finishing aims to succeed. He led us in a useful conversation about what would work best for us in a mission statement, got many thoughts and feelings out on the table, and helped us craft a mission statement, using our own words. We are very proud of what it says and how we came to say it.
My business partner and I were at a point of deciding whether to dissolve a busienss of 17 years or move forward with a completely different structure. Ira gave us an opportunity to explore both the business options and our needs and feelings in a safe place. We were given the time and structure that allowed us to put emotions aside and reach an acceptable decision. I am thankful that this process did not destroy our friendship.
Thank you for creating a great experience yesterday (where you gathered several business owners and faciltiated them through an exercise of redesigning my facility). I feel that you brought a wonderful group of people together who where creative, honest and sincere. The atmosphere generated a bond of trust and the giving was enormous. Ira, the initial ground work that you did set the stage for this group to have structure and focus and accomplished so much in a short period of time. The synergy was fantastic. Thank you very much for stepping outside the box and exceeding all of my expectations.
Dave and Anne Cistoldi, FLN MAR Rubber & Plastics Co.
Our Nashville based family real estate business, H.G. Hill Company, is in its 5th generation, and facing many new and ongoing challenges, even as we succeed as a company and a family. We continuously challenge ourselves to have the right conversations, and use our annual retreats for this purpose. Ira Bryck was the facilitator of our recent 2 day retreat, and brought us to new heights. We were able to safely engage in a robust, paradigm shifting dialog about ownership, diversification, risk, communication, leadership, legacy, stewardship and much more. He got our youngest generation talking about investing themselves in our future, in a way that has never happened before. He helped our elder generation (and all) change their perspective about what it means to be owners. He brought us to agreement on several steps we will now follow, with his guidance, to develop and execute strategy and enhance our legacy. It was widely reported that our retreat was a wild success, largely due to his talent as a facilitator. We proudly recommend him for this role.
Ira Bryck was tremendously helpful with his insights into the strengths and challenges of my business model. He gave me some great ideas not only for ways to connect with new clients but for how to determine best CATEGORIES of clients that would most benefit from my services. He's also extremely personable and a pleasure to spend time with. I recommend him highly as a consultant and an advisor for any developing business. Thanks, Ira!
Dear Ira, Once again, thank you for helping our Ledges Board with some focus for the future. I am truly a fan of your intellect and abilities. You took a three hour period and focused our group onto a process of discussion and commitment. We needed to evolve from a day to day focus to a more long term approach, and you succeeded at giving us a plan. Truly a job well done! Thank you again for your time. I consider you a friend and I want to reassure you that I am always available to you. I look forward to our next event together..
ABOUT IRA BRYCK'S WORK AS A FAMILY BUSINESS PRESENTER:
Ira Bryck is simply a wonderful presenter. He understood our audience well and tailored his presentation to their needs and interests. Not only that, but he brought with him several other panelists who added much to the program. His sense of humor and conscientiousness were appreciated by the audience, as well as by me - the coordinator of the event. I say if you can get him, GET HIM!
Ira was the featured speaker at the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council's midwinter meeting and was nothing short of enthralling. He is highly personable, speaks from a position of knowledge without being preachy, and "worked the crowd", getting everyone involved in his presentation. I don't usually get positive feedback from a group of attorneys,accountants and financial planners, but I heard good things from them on Ira. Any group would be wise to have him as a speaker. In fact, I am trying to set up a time for him to address some of my family business clients in a similar setting.
Ira Bryck's presentation (about his advice to family business, based on his experiences in his own family's business, and working with others) to the members and sponsors of the Northeastern University Center for Family Business earned scores that were all in the Very to Extremely Valuable range; and the comments were positive, including: "Ira got us thinking about how to deal with and confront my family with an open mind, respect and compromise" and that the talk dealt with "real tough issues" made "very interesting" by hearing 'insights from other companies" so they could "take the time to talk and plan as a family and management team." He was funny yet provocative, direct yet tactful. I confidently recommend Ira and this presentation to any industry group or family business program."
Ted Clark, Director Northeastern University Center for Family Business
Thank you for contributing to the 2nd Annual "How To" Entrepreneurship Institute. The small business owners and entrepreneurs left energized and excited about the information they received. The "How to Govern, Communicate & Plan in Your Family Company" workshop that you led was especially informaitve, and you did an excellent job in presenting the subject matter in a palpable way.
Aimee Griffin Munnings, Esq., Director, Western New England College Law and Business Center for Advancing Entrepreneurship
ABOUT OUR NEWSLETTER, RELATED MATTERS:
As a veteran magazine editor/publisher, I'm inherently hypercritical on graphics and content. But Related Matters blows me away. I receive many newsletters; your publication is in the stratosphere. Then, I read your summary of my workshop. Nobody has ever caught the essence of what I try to say better than you did in that piece. Thank you for the thought...and respect...that represents. You guys do nice work up there in Mass.
ABOUT OUR ROUNDTABLE FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS:
The FBC Women’s Roundtable has become my lifeline in times of turbulence - both business and personal. This group allows me to explore the sometimes complex intermingling of emotions that family + business can bring for women. The mixture of generations offers wisdom I have never seen anywhere else. This group is the quintessential place to be for women in business with their families. We explore deeply personal reflections of how this impacts our gender roles, our spirit and our drive for the almighty "Balance". The atmosphere is confidential, safe and without judgments. Our group represents many different demographics - which only provides better insight and much wisdom. Many of the women I have met in this group have become unexpected lifetime friends and our relationships extend beyond the boundaries of the conference room. Most importantly - our facilitator Deborah Kruger teaches us how to be better communicators with those around us and how to ask ourselves the deeper questions behind our emotions & intentions. Priceless."
At first I was absolutely not enticed with the idea of participating in a "women's" group. As a woman in business, my experience with other women at Chamber of Commerce and sales functions has been less than desirable. I feel no connection, or bonding and in many cases, no respect. Deborah assured me that her group was different. She empathized with what I was expressing and assured me that she kept a tight rein on the conversation if it started to head into irrelevant or inappropriate areas. I gave it a try. I consider this roundtable to be one of the best resources I have ever added to my life "toolbox". I believe this is now my third year in the roundtable. Over the months and years I have found the roundtable to be most helpful for venting (both personal and business), gathering wisdom and advice, and helping me to gain focus on the specifics of issues that I was dancing around. I consider some of these women to be my closest friends and would not hesitate to call on any of them if I needed help or support. Deborah as a moderator is amazing. She doesn't reign with a visible iron hand, but she steers and brings focus in such a subtle way that it is not noticeable, offensive nor intrusive. Her insight is also right on and she brings a positive outlook to even the most bleak of situations. Our group not only discusses thoughts and ideas, but we come out with an action plan, if needed, that helps us back on the path that we need to be on. I look forward to our monthly meetings. My schedule is arranged around them and I would not even consider missing one. I get so much out of each meeting and am so thankful to be a part of this wonderful group of women. I would be pleased to speak with anyone who would like to talk to a participant of the group. -