Stetson University Cohosts Family Business Conference

Stetson University’s Family Enterprise Center joined forces with Family Business Magazine for the third time to host Transitions West 2011.

Transitions West 2011 is a Family Business conference that took place in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, California on November 1-3. The goal of this conference, according to Dr.Greg McCann, academic director of the Family Enterprise Center, was to provide a “safe harbor where family owned business can get together and talk with their peers and not be solicited”. Although McCann said that it was a “challenge” to do so, it was something that succeeded.

The three half-day sessions had focal points directed towards conveying knowledge as well as ideas one can use towards one’s family corporation. The first session was titled “Succession Planning: What Works and What Doesn’t” while the second session was called “Wealth Transfer, Estate Planning and How to Find and Use Expert Advice”. The last and final session was named “Family Company Governance: The Nuts & Bolts”.

Regarding the number of those who attended, there were about 120 attendees, most being families who had businesses or family offices. The speakers and moderators were no exception – they too were part of family businesses, and prestigious ones at that. Ross J. Born, one of the moderators for the second session, is the CEO of Just Born Inc., a family-owned candy business. Just Born Inc. has produced brand names such as MIKE & IKE™, Hot Tamales™, Peanut Chews™ and marshmallow Peeps™. Preston Root, a speaker at the third session, is President of the Root Family Board of Directors, a job position that has always been held by a family member for 110 years. The Root Glass Company “designed, patented and manufactured” the earliest 6 1/2 ounce Coca-cola bottle in 1916.

Pertaining to McCann’s final thoughts of the conference, he stated that the Transitions Conference is an opportunity to aid families in business and also “a powerful opportunity to showcase our students and our brand: the world’s best development program for the next generation in family enterprises.” Peter Begalla, the outreach director and program manager of the conference, agrees. “Stetson University students participated in the panel…[it was] a great way…to showcase themselves and their understanding of family business issues.”

The Transitions Conference for the East will take place in Orlando at the Grand Bohemian Hotel from April 21-23. For more information on Transitions Conferences, visit

Greg McCann
Peter Begalla


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