Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - Master Classes

Registration and Breakfast

Time: 8:00 am - 9:00 am

Location: Breazzano Center, room 103, 209 Dryden Road, Ithaca NY

Strengthening the Family Culture: Beliefs and Behaviors That Build Responsibility and Resilience

A pre-conference workshop for owners, family members, and students

Time: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Location: Breazzano Center, room 321, 209 Dryden Road, Ithaca NY

Family businesses display distinct cultures; so do the families that run those businesses. Strengthening the family culture usually benefits both the business and the family, yet comparatively, little attention gets paid to build a family culture.

This 6-hour “deep dive” will explore family culture from a set of practical questions and skills surrounding beliefs and behaviors: What do parents and adult children believe about freedom and responsibility? What emboldening or limiting assumptions and biases affect resilience and confidence? How do family members respond to adversity, privilege, openness and defensiveness? How might generational patterns that no longer work be shifted?

True to the presenter’s desire to apply strategies and skills to real-life situations, this workshop will feature live coaching demonstrations to highlight realistic approaches to family culture/building.


  • John Engels, Founder and President, Leadership Coaching, Inc.

What Top Mid-Market CEOs Do Differently to Execute Their Growth Strategy and Win

Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Location: Breazzano Center, room 101, 209 Dryden Road, Ithaca NY

Patrick Thean, co-founder and CEO of Rhythm Systems, will deliver “A Deep Dive into Execution,” a repeatable process to develop strong execution plans for your year and your quarters. This half-day course is suitable for business leaders and practitioners, family members, and key persons. Learn the system that top CEOs use as their competitive advantage to execute their growth plan, hit their numbers and lead in their market space.

Learn how to:

  • Create the right metrics and dashboards for your business
  • Develop and "execution ready" Annual Plan
  • Design a Plan B - a contingency plan (90% of initiatives fail)
  • Establish a performance culture that can adjust and win
  • Convert wasteful weekly meetings into powerful problem-solving sessions


Welcome Reception and Dinner

Time: 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Location: The Terrace Restaurant, Statler Hotel, 130 Statler Dr, Ithaca, NY 14853

“A Taste of Family Business”  

Welcome Reception begins at 5:30 pm, Dinner begins at 7:00 pm.

The opening reception to feature family-owned wineries, breweries, and agriculture-related products from NY state and beyond. Hear the stories direct from the family members, taste their products and kick off the 2018 Families in Business conference experience. 

After dinner: "100 Years of Good Stuff." 

Robert Denning, President & CEO of Perry's Ice Cream, will share his perspective on four generations of family, innovation, and growth. Through the years, Perry’s has evolved from hand cranks and horse-drawn delivery to a modern, world-class production facility. Today, they have an international presence, a direct store distribution footprint of more than 100,000 square miles over 7 states, employ over 350 people, have top line sales exceeding $110 Million and produce more than 10 million gallons per year of great tasting ice cream.

Carol Wittmeyer, Ed. D, Cornell Family Business Scholar and Interim Associate Dean at St. John Fisher College will draw upon her extensive relationship and work with with Mr. Denning and help to share his story during this fireside chat after dinner.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Registration, networking, breakfast

Come early for networking with our conference supporters, students and alumni.

Time: 8:00 am - 8:45 am

Location: Ballroom Foyer, Statler Hotel, 130 Statler Dr, Ithaca, NY 14853

Opening Conversation

Time: 8:45 am – 10:00 am

Location: Carrier Ballroom, Statler Hotel

Members of the Cornell Family Business Club share their rising generation perspectives on front-burner challenges, career choices and what family business means for each of them. Daniel Van Der Vliet, the John and Dyan Smith Executive Director of Family Business at Cornell, will discuss with students their family business challenges and opportunities. 

Morning Panel Session I

Time: 10:15 am - 11:15 am

Location: Penn, Princeton & Yale Rooms, Statler Hotel

Love, Land, and Legacy - Princeton Room

Ed Staehr, Cornell Family Business Scholar, explores the complex relationship of land and legacy that faces many, if not all, family producers of food and beverage.

Global Perspectives on Family, Business, and Values - Penn Room

With senior and current generation members for several family businesses with global roots, this discussion will focus on where family businesses are alike, and how they differ across the globe. 

Moderator: Holly Isdale, '86, Wealthaven


Leading in the Tightly Held Private Company: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Yale Room

David Casullo, draws on his experience working with executive leaders in family businesses from the $1B+ Raymour & Flanigan and the $250M Burrows Paper – an international pulp, paper and packaging manufacturer, to two family-held Anheuser-Busch beer distributorships and his own entrepreneurial family ventures. He is author of the book, Leading the High Energy Culture: What the Best CEOs Do to Create an Atmosphere Where Employees Flourish. David will lead an open forum conversation on leadership within tightly-held family companies – what works, what challenges are most difficult, what can destroy.

Morning Panel Session II

Time: 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Stepping Up - Yale Room

Mona Olsen, '04, Assistant Professor, explores with several rising family business leaders, the challenges and opportunities that they are ready to embrace.

Harnessing Growth, Managing Innovation, Preparing for Disruption - Penn Room

Carrie DiLauro ‘91, Managing Director of Hamilton Robinson Capital Partners, delves into growth, disruption and moving the business forward.

Third Time is a Charm - Princeton Room

Rhonda Carniol, '79,  a partner at Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi, discusses with Steve Raymond, '71, the recently retired president and principal shareholder of Raymond Handling Concepts Corporation, the arc of Raymond Corp., from it's origin under his grandfather and the subsequent IPO and sale of the business under his father, to the launch of the subsidiary, Raymond Handling Concepts Corp., which Steve ran for 31 years until 2018 when Steve sold his share of the company back to The Raymond Corporation in July 2018 and retired, for good.


Time: 12:30 - 1:30 pm

Location: Carrier Ballroom, Statler Hotel

Closing - What is a Destination Brewery, and How has the Sparling Family Transformed Blyth, Ontario? 

Time: 1:30 - 2:30 pm

Location: Carrier Ballroom, Statler Hotel

Blyth, Ontario, a historic Canadian village, sits roughly at the midpoint between Toronto, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan. In response to an economic development survey that identified the “potential” of growing economic activity in Blyth, the Sparling family drew upon their entrepreneurial roots and conceived of Blyth Cowbell Brewing Co. Cowbell is a unique Canadian destination craft brewery that features a state-of-the-art closed-loop brewing facility, restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, retail store, and entertainment spaces. Cowbell's accessible, family-friendly farm is located on 111-acres south of Blyth, and is committed to providing Guests with a one-of-a-kind experience, highlighted by delicious craft beer.

A recent housing report which examined an increase in local property values attributed “a growing trend in the number of individuals that are moving to Blyth and the Huron County region” citing Cowbell’s powerful presence as a primary factor.

Grant Sparling I, and his sons, Steven and David, built Sparling’s Propane, which grew to be one of the largest propane retailers in Canada before it was sold to a national energy company. Taking this business expertise into craft brewing means that Steven, and the third generation, Grant Sparling II and Jessica Green, ’13, lead an ambitious team that is committed to providing outstanding beer and a memorable guest experience.

Grant Sparling II, Chief Development Officer, and Jessica Green, ’13, Director of People + Culture, will share the Sparling family business story, from the entrepreneurial roots of their grandfather to the present day and forward.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Sam Seltzer '48 Mentors Forum

Time: 6:00 - 9:00 pm

Location: Banfi's Restaurant 

A special post-conference dinner and program that allows current students and young alums to spend time, one on one, with Cornell Family Business Scholars and family business leaders. Students will have the opportunity to engage with business leaders and select their own agendas for exploration. Registration is required.