I’ve been involved with the FBC throughout the course of my career, and have found that it provides a great way to connect with other local closely-held business leaders. In addition, it has provided opportunities for learning about unique family business situations, and ways to improve the business for everybody. Through forums, workshops, roundtables, and pre-dinner conversations, the FBC has helped me dramatically improve our business.
Craig Reed, All States Materials Group
It’s hard to believe I’m the “senior” generation now but having been a Family Business Center member nearly from the beginning, I’ve derived a great deal of value from the program. Now on my second (and third) family business, I’m back as a member once again and deriving value in new and different ways. We recently tapped into the FBC resource by engaging with Ira to facilitate a multi-company retreat with two company leadership teams with the goal of having two complimentary companies with one shared vision. Ira assisted us with his tenacity and years of experience both personally from his own family business experience as well as drawing from vast experience with the area’s largest and most influential companies. Ira guided us with tools and conversations that helped us plan, decide and clarify.
Eric Hagopian, Dumont Manufacturing/ Hassay Savage
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
The FBC offers us a unique opportunity for learning and sharing with area business owners and leading experts in the field. The roundtables, workshops, dinner forums and personal passion that Ira Bryck bring are all invaluable. As a resource for business growth and development it is unmatched.
Todd Harris, 42 design fab
Ira Bryck is a steadfast professional. He is a dynamic speaker that infuses humor with sound advice. He uses both his personal experiences of growing up in a family business and years of working with other family owned businesses to provide an understanding of the complications and uniqueness of these entities. The forty CPA’s that attended this seminar were all engaged in the program and we all walked away with useful knowledge … and a genuine appreciation for all that Ira does to assist family owned businesses!
Josephine Sarnelli, CPA, Founder & Coordinator, The CPE Forum
Ira Bryck provided crucial and powerful information on family meetings and councils to our membership. Ira was excellent to work with from the very start, he communicated with our team actively from the moment we reached out to him. Ira’s presentation (“Don’t Let Family Get in the Way: The Hows and Whys of Effective Family Meetings and Councils”)was rated by over 80% of our audience members as an event they would “recommend to a friend, colleague or family member”. The subject matter directly related to the family business members in the audience, who are often looking for better ways to communicate with each other as family members AND as colleges. He delivered meaningful information in a direct manner that one of our attendees praised, saying “Ira did a nice job of tactfully being blunt about the realities of family business and how that spills over into family meetings”. If you are looking for an interactive, engaging, and knowledgeable speaker Ira Bryck is a great choice.
Marci Shafer, Executive Director, Family Business Alliance of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Thank you for the wonderful presentation to the Holyoke Rotarians. Much of what you shared I found applicable to my work as a not for profit leader. As I shared, the group was truly engaged.
Kathy Viens, President, Holyoke Rotary
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, Paragus IT
The Family Business Center of the Pioneer Valley is a mission with a purpose that has never wavered. With Ira as the face and voice of the center, sustaining membership and a vibrant center that has continued to defy odds, I am proud to recommend the center as a worthy recipient. The value added, the advice provided and the camaraderie created are vastly underestimated and Ira’s work and dedication are the unsung heroes of the center.
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
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, Key Bank
I really enjoy the diverse topics that are presented at the Family Business Dinners. While I didn’t think all the topics would all pertain to me, I always find a nugget of information to leave with that I can apply to my career and often times share with my team.
Amanda Moyer, Market Mentors
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.
Dann Van Der Vliet, Family Business Initiative, University of Vermont
We feel that our 17 year membership in the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley has been a tremendous asset to our family. It has strengthened all aspects of our business, especially our personal relationship as a family. It has helped keep our expectations high and satisfies our desire to learn new business and family management ideas. It has brought us sustained changes in our fast moving industry and gave to us lifelong friendships. Our greatest challenge is to use and implement the ideas and good sense we’ve received from the excellent variety of program speakers this organization brings to us.
Larry, Marc, Dan, Chris, Helene and Bob Grenier, Grynn & Barrett Studios
My family in business has transitioned through many, many stages and phases. Throughout the years, the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley and its director, Ira Bryck, have been a part of them all. The best way I can describe what this organization does for us is to simply say that it validates us. It validates that we are not alone and that none of our experiences–good or bad–are in vain. The environment at the forums is one of genuine openness and honesty about the common goals and challenges of family business. Large or small, new or well established, there is always something to learn. This is NOT a free-for-all business card swap. This is an oasis of valuable business resources and absolutely priceless relationships. This is beyond typical networking. I would be more than happy to speak to anyone considering membership.
Amy Scott, Wild Apple Design Group LLC
Ira Bryck’s Family Business Center is much more than it’s name implies. It’s a business to business network that is truly a network, with communications to and from many businesses on many levels. It’s provided me with personal and business benefits – both from the formal programs, as well as the informal friendships I’ve developed over the years. You can’t go to one meeting and expect to earn your membership fee back, but when you look over the year, it’s an expense that is easily justified.
Jeff Glaze, EpiCenter
I joined the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley several years ago to alleviate the stress and isolation I felt as a business owner. So happens, I am married to my business partner, which -for anyone- has its own set of challenges, including the need to look outside the family for some vital business wisdom. Since joining, I have more confidence in my inner wisdom, I have a ‘family’ that understands the challenges that I face, and I have access to centuries of wisdom and experience. Now, I experience less stress, have great new friends, and a better marriage!
Joanne Goding, Moss Nutrition
The thing that’s most amazing to me about the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley is just how many smart people belong. I’ve been in a lot of professional organizations in Western Mass, and none of them have been able help me grow as a businessowner as well as the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. I don’t know if smart people join the center, or if joining makes you smarter, but I always leave these events feeling inspired and humbled and energized, all at the same time.
Jason Mark, Gravity Switch Website and CD-ROM development
The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley gives us a chance to really learn from one another like no other organization we have belonged to and in a no-holds-barred atmosphere. If you are serious about your business and family life and how they relate, whether you’re a small mom & pop or a larger family business, you need to belong. Call Ira and you won’t regret it.
Frank & Curio Nataloni, Kitchens by Curio
The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley gives me the chance to escape from my bottomless in-box, ringing phones, employee dilemmas, production problems and all-too-frequent “fires,” to a place where I can listen to amazing guest speakers and chat with fellow family business owners about important issues and hot topics in a casual environment. This forum – filled with colleagues who have been in my shoes – enables me to make sound business decisions and gain a big picture view. Armed with insight from the meetings and other available resources — I can really take control; especially of those ugly business issues that would have otherwise been put off until it is just too late.
Scott J. MacKenzie, MacKenzie Vault, Inc.
We were quite fortunate to have been exposed to Ira Bryck and the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley early in the succession planning process. The program addresses not only the important financial and business issues, but also delicate family relationship issues which are not often brought up because of time constraints. The meetings we attend allow us to listen and evaluate each other members’ situations, and feelings, while relating them to our own family matters. Overall, the center has provided us with guidance, and a forum to discuss and deal with the delicate issues that our family encounters during this generation change.
Eric Hagopian, Hoppe Tool, Inc.
What can I say, but You the Man!? You make the program what it is and it’s just Super!
Rick Giombetti, Giombetti Associates
Ira Bryck captains a good ship and is always open to experiment with new methods to meet participant needs. Presentations are focused, stay within advertised time limits, and deliver what they promise. The tight rope between treating your business like a business and your family like a family is well walked as we listen and talk t each other and learn from the presenters and each other. This group is becoming to feel like a comfortable family in itself.
Martha Johnson Gilburg, “Why Not Do What You Love?”
Rarely have I had the privilege of knowing and working with someone as creative, fun, brilliant and full of integrity as Ira Bryck. I have known Ira for about a dozen years, both professionally and personally. We have worked together on family business projects, and he hired me to speak at one of his family business forums. The consummate networker, Ira takes joy bringing people together from different places when he thinks they might both benefit. He’s a terrific brainstormer, able to think outside any box of any dimensions. No one should hesitate to work with or miss the chance to get to know Ira Bryck!
Jayne Pearl, Freelance Writer/Editor/Speaker
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.
“I’ve known Ira for more than 20 years, since he was hired to open and run the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley and hired me to cover his first conference for his newsletter–and all the conferences since. Ira’s work is always professional, he brings in very high quality speakers, puts together a newsletter that consistently wins accolades. His knowledge of family business issues is encylopedic. And he’s a really nice guy who I’m proud to call friend.
Shel Horowitz Owner, Accurate Writing & More
I first collaborated with Ira when I spoke at his forum in the fall of 2007. In that experience and all my subsequent dealings with Ira, I have found him to be deeply committed to working with others to produce the best possible results for his members/clients. He is very personable, flexible, and willing to dialogue on any issue. His core values are making the project better and enhancing the professional relationship. A truly engaging professional to work with.
Greg McCann, Family Business Consultant, Author, When Your Parents Sign the Paychecks
Ira Bryck is one of the most unique, thoughtful and innovative persons I’ve had the pleasure to work and associate with. As a peer, I look to Ira for ideas and inspiration. As a colleague, Ira is an example of how to champion the needs of the customer while not losing sight of running an effecient business. Finally, as a client, Ira delivers what is promised and routinely exceeds expectations.
Dann Van Der Vliet , Director, University of Vermont Family Business Initiative
I was very impressed by the candor with which the members shared information and ideas at the meeting last night. You’ve got a great group there. What a fabulous resource for family businesses. Makes me wish I had one of my own!!
Kathy Behilo, Treo Communications
The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley does a great job in helping me expand my knowledge of important business practices. What a worthwhile investment!
Gary Biela, Sentry Cleaners
In my almost 40 years of working with family business owners and attending conferences and seminars all over the country that cater to (or propose to cater to) the needs of family business’, The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley stands apart. There truly is no better venue and safer place for a family business, its members and non-family employees to come and address the issues they face to growing and prospering as a family business. You have created an entrepreneurial environment that is unique. Its value is generated both by the expertise of the speakers and the interaction of the members- successful family business’ sharing their growing pains and success stories with other members. This is an invaluable educational experience that is not available in any ‘how to’ book. You have to be in the seats, involved and engaged to get the full benefits each and every month…and our membership does! And after 20+ years it’s only gotten better. Hats off to you.
Charles D. Epstein, CLU ChFC, Certified Family Business Specialist
It’s heartening to see so many entrepreneurs so willing to offer suggestions to colleagues looking for help on ways to expand their family businesses or to branch into other lines of business; especially when you consider that these are in many cases small businesses where entire families share in the success of the companies.
Ken Ross, Union News Business Editor
The center has provided our 4th generation funeral service firm with the tools to attract and retain family, to develop leaders, and a strong commitment by the next generation, and has helped in developing a strong business and personal relationship with the family. I recommend to anyone interested in fostering growth and passing the business on to the next generation to look to the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley as a partner in your future planning.
Peter A. Forastiere, VP, Forastiere Family Funeral Homes
The Family Business Center has been thought provoking! It gives us an opportunity to stand back and do strategic thinking.
Anthony M. Detarando, Incom, Inc.
Wow! How lucky we are to have a resource like this in Western Mass. Not only are we able to attend seminars and workshops by nationally recognized experts, but the Family Business Center also provides an opportunity to confidentially network with local people who know first-hand what it’s like to be running a family business.
Richard Cooper, Cooper’s Corner/ State Street Fruit Store, Deli, Wine and Spirits
This is a great organization with a creative, innovative, and caring leader.
Paul Alves, Giombetti Associates
Every time I come to the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley events it helps me understand where I’ve been and where my children are going with our business I founded fifty years ago.
Robert Grenier, Greniers Photographers
I was very pleased to participate in your recent sibling summit. Your format was well thought out, had friendly audience interaction and was executed in a way that made me feel comfortable. Some of thes discussion topics are difficult under the best of circumstances and under your guidance, issues were handled with discretion and care. While it was initially a bit daunting to consider airing our personal issues w/ a group, in the end I believe we came away with a little more insight into our successes as well as opportunities for us to improve.This event allowed us to interact and share among peers issues unique to sibling run family businesses. Thank you for your willingness to evolve and cater your services to your member needs.
Sharon Orr, President, Notch Mechanical Constructors
My brother and I thoroughly enjoyed the first ever Sibling Summit. There were a lot of relevant topics discussed in a constructive and professional way.; I would recommend that any sibling team in business together attend this event.
Justin Glaze, G4-Graphics
The Sibling Summit had a unique format that allowed everyone involved–regardless of age, the type of business they are involved in, or how many siblings they have–to relate to the issues that were presented. After just the first session, everyone seemed really comfortable and open to sharing their experiences of working with their brother(s) or sister(s). Hopefully there will be more events like these not only just for siblings, but for all of the other types of relationships that have to do with family businesses. If you are just ‘thinking’ about going to a special event like this, JUST DO IT! It gets you out of the office and into an environment that makes your time in the office more valuable and effective. Like my father, I wrote a novel where a sentence or two would have been fine so feel free to cut this down!
Jordan Glaze, Decorated Products
I was truly impressed by the Sibling Summit and felt the level of openness and exchange of ideas was unexpected and refreshing. We all work in a very unique family arrangement, which sometimes makes it difficult to express problematic areas since there is so much more at stake with the people involved. I appreciated the candor and vulnerability of all the participants that allowed us to peak into their family dynamics and walk away with some ideas on how to overcome obstacles. I would certainly attend future Sibling Summits and highly recommend the event; it is unlike any I’ve ever attended.
Kim Durand, Normandeau Communications
I think this was one of the best meetings I attended. Moderated and advises expertly. Very open and honest discussion without sticks and stones. Would love to see another sib meeting where all my sibs can attend. Many thanks,
Larry Grenier, Grynn & Barrett Studios
The Sibling Summit illuminated many typical contentious issues and success stories from members who faced them head-on. It was an extremely well-focused and relevant education.
John Dion, Dion Label Printing
I am one of the fortunate entrepreneurs who has access to Ira Bryck’s support, intelligence and business acumen. Bryck has an encyclopedic knowledge of business management and I leave every meeting with a new title to read and a new spin on my company. If you are serious about pursuing a successful enterprise, you would be wise to engage Ira Bryck as a trusted advisor and coach.
Deborah E. Kruger, Owner and Founder, PsychBilling
Ira has facilitated many roundtables for the clients of our incubator. He has also provided individualized consulting for a variety of business related issues. He is truly an expert in eliciting strategic thinking from business owners who are focused on day to day operations. He is also extremely effective in conflict management related issues. A pleasure to work with, he always delivers as promised.
Deborah King, Director, Springfield (Mass.) Business Incubator, Scibelli Enterprise Center, Springfield Technical Community College
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.
Lyne J. Kendall, former Sr. Financial Business Analyst Massachusetts Small Business Development Center
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
Bill McClure, Director, UMass Amherst Division of Continuing & Professional Education
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
Michael Camerota, Certified Business Intermediary, Touchstone Advisors
ABOUT IRA BRYCK AS RADIO SHOW HOST:
Laurie Breitner (my business partner) told me her husband happened to catch the interview while he was in the car on Saturday morning. He liked it and mentioned to Laurie that he now understands how we complement each other, which is really good feedback! I want to tell you that you are a terrific interviewer. Both your process and the result far exceeded my expectations. In retrospect. I feel compelled to ask if you have ever thought of doing this for business owners that would like to have a an audio (or even video) interview for a website (or other purpose). Having listened to several of the podcasts you have done, I know the interview with me was not a fluke!
Karen Utgoff, Karen Utgoff Consulting
Just wanted to drop a note and say that you did a real nice job as an interviewer. I felt very comfortable and your questions were clear and the discussion flowed well. We certainly could have discussed much more and as you predicted the 24 minutes flew by! I look forward to our continued collaboration.
Gary Nader, Total Quality Associates
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.
John Kokoski, Mapleline Farm LLC
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.
Jeanne Bell, Westside Finishing
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.
Jim Levey, Chambers Advisory Group
This is a letter of recommendation for the use of the mediation services of Ira Bryck. In my business, a partnership, something came up suddenly, and having a third-party be in the room and guiding the discussion seemed like it would be a valuable service. It turned out that it was very valuable. Ira fit us in quickly and within a short time, and because of his considerate guidance and focused questions and statements, we covered a lot of ground in a very efficient and effective manner. I would highly recommend that anyone who has to have hard conversations have Ira in the room with them. I believe that you will be pleased that you did.
Rob Chambers, Chambers Advisory Group
On behalf of my family, I want to thank you for the all the guidance, insight, and assistance provided by the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. It is truly a service to companies like ours going through the generational transition. We’ve become a much more sophisticated and savvy business family. Our enhanced understanding of the unique dynamics of a family business helped us to successfully navigate the rocky waters of transition (both management and ownership). Thanks also for the friendship and support you provided me personally.
Steven Neveu, Notch Mechanical Constructors
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.
David Dingess, H.G. Hill Family Council
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!
Mat Lebowitz, Founder, MLCreative
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..
Peter Rosskothen, Owner/President, The Log Cabin & The Delaney House
I’m writing this letter as a testimonial of my appreciation of the fine job that Ira Bryck has done to help resolve an extremely difficult and troubling impasse that myself and family members came to in our family business. After four grueling sessions we achieved the unimaginable: we heard each other’s viewpoints and could respect one another again. Ira’s approach of focusing on the business relationship, but hearing out some of the family pain was just right for us. In spite of some tumultuous moments, he mediated skillfully to keep us focused on our objectives and our points of agreement, while validating our disagreements. I highly recommend Ira to anyone who needs assistance in negotiating the emotionally charged task of reconciling family and business problems.
Gordon Fletcher-Howell, Landscapes by Earthcare, Inc.
Thank you so very much for the meeting forum you created for us this morning. As was noted, we are all on board with our mission and do respect each other but the “business of business” has an influence on our everyday life both individually and collectively. You helped organize a discussion that was focused by our own concerns. I liked the way you took our responses to your questionnaire, categorized salient remarks, gave us individual time to read and think and then facilitated discussion that was meaningful to all of us and will, I know, focus our future actions. We all participated and spoke from the heart. Your summaries, thoughtful comments throughout and in general, your breadth of personal experience with family businesses were all so helpful.
Maryellen Moreau, Mindwing Concepts, Inc.
Working with Ira was one of the best professional experiences my company and I could have had. There are many challenges (as well as rewards) working in a family business; and to that situation, Ira brought clarity, insight and perspective to the meeting he led. I would highly recommend working with Ira and the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley! Every moment with him is time well spent.
Brian Scott Welch, Mindwing Concepts, Inc.
Thank you so much for all of your help. You were more informative in that short time than anyone else that I have talked to in the past. The session was interesting and benefical.
Amy Selvia, New England Promotional Marketing
We’re pretty excited about using some of the tools and tactics you proposed today. As I’d hoped, talking with an objective (not family!) expert was just what we needed. You’re a tremendous resource of knowledge and experience—I appreciate your willingness to share. I’m a big fan!
Kathy Behilo, Treo Communications
Ira provided for our family the opportunity to have fair, balanced discussions relative to family and business issues that would not have been possible without his guidance. He was instrumental in helping us get through various difficult issues in an most effective way. He has a great understanding of the dynamics of business families and dealing with the challenges they face.
Steve Solomon, Solomon Metals
Ira: it has been a pleasure utilizing your talents and real world experience as a consultant. You have kept us moving in a positive direction and helped us to expand our business. You have been the unbiased voice of reason when conflict arose and not burdened us with opinion but fact. I am sure that our business would still be open if we never made the mutual commitment between each other but it would not be prospering. You have definitely seen us with all of our warts exposed and not told us we are ugly !!! Balancing family and business is hard enough when it is not intertwined but once they coexist can become unbearable and it appears together we are making it less unbearable. Thanks for all your direction and wisdom.
Bob and Brian Ambrefe, Faye Omasta and Deb Haraden, Village Pharmacy
Ira was able to help save our volatile family and family business from detonation. It takes a special person that can bridge two different generations and two different personalities.
Allen Cook, J.H. Cook and Sons, Inc.
Ira provided excellent advice and direction for us. Some things we didn’t want to hear, but definitely needed to hear. He helped put us on a path forward instead of spinning our wheels.
Matthew O’Neil, Village Lumber
Ira has facilitated some strategic planning sessions and worked with me and my son on personal and business planning. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience from working with many family businesses, and he’s well read, so he always has recommendations on books to help improve most any family business situation. Ira can handle strong personalities and is great at asking strategic questions. I would highly recommend Ira for facilitation, conflict management and family business issues.
Jeff Glaze, Decorated Products
ABOUT IRA BRYCK’S WORK AS A FAMILY BUSINESS PRESENTER:
Ira Bryck spoke to my Management Consulting class at the Isenberg School, and held my students spellbound for an hour. He has extensive experience working with family businesses, his knowledge and mastery of family business issues is impressive, and his presentation was full of wisdom and useful insights. He led a highly interactive session – his style is extremely engaging — and the time just flew by! I highly recommend him as both a speaker and consultant.
Alan Robinson, Professor, UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management
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!
Janet Kaplan Bucciarelli, Director, Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival valleyjewishfilm.org
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.
Jeffrey Siegel, Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council, VP, Financial & Estate Planning at United Wealth Management Group
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
Having grown up in a family business, Ira Bryck has a thorough understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in any family business enterprise, making him uniquely qualified to speak authoritatively on this complex—and emotionally charged—subject. For this reason, Mr. Bryck adds value to any educational program focusing on how not only to survive, but thrive in a family business environment.”
Dan Moreland, Publisher, PCT Media Group, Cleveland, OH
We were pleased to have Ira Bryck as our after dinner keynote at the Paperboard Packaging Council’s Fall 2006 conference at Greenbrier Resort. His presentation, “More Crazy Than Busy: Business / Family Life Balance” hit the mark for our audience, many of whom were with spouses, and seeking – and finding- in his talk a strong mixture of entertainment and insight. Ira also facilitated a discussion the next morning, on the topic “How to Pass the Torch Without Getting Burned,” which our members appreciated as a valuable opportunity to discuss a vital subject with a knowledgeable expert.
Jerry Van de Water, President, Paperboard Packaging Council
Thank you very much for making your presentation at our recent annual meeting. Many maple producers are faced with transitioning their agricultural/forestry businesses to the next generation just as they manage their woodlots and maple sugarbushes for long term health. Your workshop was very helpful to many who attended our North American Maple Syrup Council meeting.
Tom McCrumm, past president, NAMSC
ut the family business center and to consider the issues that family businesses face. I just heard from two of the quieter participants that they had gotten just what they needed from the seminar, and I heard similar comments from others last night. I hope you’ll consider repeating the program sometime next year.
Kathryn Hayes, UMass Donahue Institute, Pioneer Valley Enterprise Program
Thank you so much for your session with the Connecticut Young Executives Organization. The feedback I received was very positive. I always enjoy the profound learning experience.
Michael Francouer, Joining Technologies
Thank you for participating in Friday’s highly successful cranberry growers’ business seminar, attended by over 140 growers! Your opening presentation on the challenges facing family businesses struck a responsive cord in the audience and set the tone for the rest of the day. Thanks again. You and your Center contribute significantly to our efforts as a land grant university!
Steve Demski, former UMass Vice Provost for University Outreach
Ira’s presentation was one of the highlights of the PCT Mergers & Acquisition Seminar, a two-day conference in which pest control industry professionals heard from a diverse speaker lineup that included PCOs (pest control owner/operators), consultants, brokers, franchisers and others. Ira’s presentation, titled “The Realities of Selling Your Business,” explored both the business aspects, as well as the emotional side, of selling one’s business. Reflecting on both his personal experiences — working for his family’s children’s wear business — and using his business acumen, Ira crafted an informative and thought-provoking presentation that was customized to our audience. Our audience was entertained, informed and felt comfortable exchanging experiences and asking Ira questions.
Brad Harbison, Internet Editor & Managing Editor, PCT Magazine, GIE Media Group, Cleveland, OH
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.
Donald Jonovic, Ph.D., Family Business Management Services, Cleveland, OH
Your newsletter is the best—very well-written, useful stuff and funny. You can tell it’s yours!
Jane Hilburt-Davis, Key Resources Family Business Consulting, Lexington, MA
I am on the mailing list of several forums and I would say that Related Matters is among the best of the newsletters. Interesting, helpful and readable. I enjoy reading your editorial. I am also impressed with the breadth of the programs. You’ve done a great job of getting beyond the repetitious basics to some interesting business topics. Yours is obviously a market-driven program, which others can learn from. When I talk with other forum directors, I always suggest they call to pick your brain. Congratulations. I assume the success of the Center is a source of great satisfaction.
Steve Swartz, Esq., Family Business Advisor, McGladrey & Pullen, Minneapolis, MN
I read Related Matters and am impressed by the quality of the articles and the lively style and knowledge in Ira Bryck’s columns.
Howard Muson, (former) Editor and Publisher, Family Business Magazine
I’ve read your publication with growing interest and enthusiasm over the past two years. As a small business/family business/UMass alum reader I have found many things I have enjoyed and benefited from. Thank you and keep up the great work.
Barry J. Hallett , Realtor, Broker, Consultant, Associate, PGA National Realty Company, Country Club Properties of the Palm Beaches, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
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.” –Amy Scott, Principal of Wild Apple Design Group LLC
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. – Kathy Nekitopoulos, A-C Motor Express LLC
ABOUT IRA’S HOTSEAT/ ROLE PLAYING SESSION, GREAT FOR ANY KIND OF INDUSTRY CONFERENCE:
This exercise was very beneficial for me, as it led me into some deeper thought about similar situations I’m facing with some of my clients, and I was able to apply some new ideas and solutions to their situations.
Ed Hart, Center for Family Business, CSUF Mihaylo College of Business and Economics
I thought it was a very useful exercise. It allowed me the opportunity to share a real problem and get instant feedback from 30 of my peers. With the ability to stop and start the exercise, it also allowed me to change the direction based on the input I was receiving. Great exercise and great opportunity to really create change in my behavior.
Peter Johnson, Institute for Family Business, Eberhardt School of Business , University of the Pacific
I think the role play portion itself can be challenging. It worked for me because Judy was my partner and knows my situation very well so she could portray my customer. But the question and discussion portion was tremendously helpful for me. It gave me a lot of different perspectives and options for how to help resolve my challenge. Overall, I think it’s a great exercise. We’ve even incorporated a version of it into one of our programs.
Elizabeth Fidanovski, Chicago Family Business Council at DePaul University