Conference Report: Transitions West 2013

The conference emphasized learning and interaction.

About 210 attendees, representing 60 families, came to the Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa in San Diego for Transitions West 2013, the seventh conference presented by Family Business Magazine and Stetson University’s Family Enterprise Center. The theme of the conference, which took place November 13-15, was “Family Business Dynamics and the Dynamic Family Business.”

New features

Special sessions were added to the conference to facilitate discussion and sharing. Topic-based sessions allowed attendees to focus on areas of interest to them. In addition, special interest group meetings were scheduled for those wishing to discuss issues facing family councils, family offices, the next generation, senior family business members and non-family executives.

Before the conference officially opened, several families convened meetings facilitated by family business advisers and coordinated by Transitions staff.

An optional pre-conference session, “Transitions 101,” introduced first-time attendees to the conference format and offered tips on how to get the most out of the sessions. This introductory session also included an overview of basic family business concepts to new conference participants and others who wanted to brush up. Family Business Magazine’s Barbara Spector and David Shaw, Stetson’s Peter Begalla, Saybrook University Professor Dennis Jaffe and veteran Transitions attendee Dan Agnew, president of The Agnew Company, spoke at this session.

Conference welcome

Transitions West 2013 officially opened on Wednesday evening, November 13, with a keynote address by Deborah Marriott Harrison, global officer, Marriott Culture and Business Councils, Marriott International Inc. The title of Harrison’s talk was “The Marriott Family: History, Culture and Succession.” Tim O’Hara, audit partner at PwC, delivered the keynote introduction and led the Q&A. A welcome reception followed.

A full day of conference sessions began on Thursday, November 14, with a panel conversation entitled “Know Which Hat You’re Wearing.” Howdy S. Holmes, president and CEO, Chelsea Milling; Anne Eiting Klamar, president and CEO, Midmark Corporation; and Joshua Nacht, a board member of Bird Technologies, discussed the importance of separating the roles of shareholder, family member and business employee. Bryant W. Seaman III, managing director and head of private asset advisory services at Bessemer Trust, was the conversation leader.

Family dynamics and sensitive issues

A panel conversation focusing on “Family Dynamics—Building Trust, Respect and Communication” followed. Eric Allyn, board member of Welch Allyn; Harold L. Yoh III, chairman and CEO of Day & Zimmermann, and Julianne Lundberg Stafford of Lundberg Family Farms spoke about their families’ strategies for building family cohesion and avoiding or resolving disputes. Arne Boudewyn, managing director—family dynamics, education and governance at Abbot Downing, served as conversation leader.

After lunch on Thursday, participants broke into focus sessions based on their company’s generational stage. Jeff Ladouceur, director at SEI Private Wealth Management, and Nancy Droz-dow, principal at CFAR, facilitated sessions for family companies in the founder and second generation. Justin Zamparelli, a partner at Withers Bergman LLP, and Anna Nichols, director of communications at Altair Advisers LLC, facilitated sessions for third-generation family companies. Dirk Jungé, chairman of Pitcairn, and Saybrook University’s Dennis Jaffe were the facilitators for sessions geared toward families whose enterprises were in the fourth generation and beyond.

“Dealing with Sensitive Family Issues” was addressed in a panel conversation led by Dana Telford, a consultant with the Family Business Consulting Group. Panelists were Preston Root, president of the Root Family Board of Directors; Dale Marquis, founder and chairman, and Matt Marquis, president of Invest West Financial Corporation and Pacifica Hotel Company; and Frederic J. Marx, a partner with Hemenway & Barnes LLP. They discussed strategies for confronting divorce, disability, substance abuse and other problems potentially threatening to the future of the family and the family business.

A second set of focus sessions addressed tax and estate planning (facilitated by Jeff Saccacio, a partner with PwC), trusts and ownership (facilitated by Laura Ziegler, principal and fiduciary counsel, Bessemer Trust), wealth management (facilitated by Anna Nichols of Altair Advisers), family dynamics (facilitated by Abbot Downing’s Arne Boudewyn), the next generation (facilitated by Greg McCann, director of Stetson’s Family Enterprise Center), married-ins (facilitated by Michael Farrell, managing director of SEI Private Wealth Management) and family councils (facilitated by Justin Zamparelli of Withers Bergman and Debbie Bing, a principal of CFAR).

Special interest group meetings followed the focus sessions. Some attendees gathered with their peers to discuss family councils, family offices, and issues confronting next-generation members or non-family executives. Other attendees paired up for one-to-one meetings with fellow participants who shared common interests or faced similar issues.

Group dinners on Thursday night were held at two family-owned restaurants: Boathouse 1887 on the Bay and Brigantine Seafood Restaurant.

Next-generation and entrepreneurial innovations

Friday, November 15 opened with a panel conversation entitled “From Child to Owner: The Engaged Next Generation.” Phil Clemens, CEO of The Clemens Family Corporation; Kareem Afzal, vice president and business development manager of PDC Machines; and Tim Hussey, president and CEO of Hussey Seating Company, shared their views on what it takes for the next generation to be good owners, and what the family can do to foster a sense of stewardship. The conversation was led by Rhona Vogel, CEO and founder of Vogel Consulting.

A panel conversation on “Entrepreneurship, Investment and the Dynamic Family Business” followed. The session focused on deploying family wealth in new ways within and outside the family business, investing family capital and encouraging new ways of thinking. Pitcairn’s Dirk Jungé led a conversation featuring panelists Jason Pritzker, president and co-founder of Yapmo LLC, and Warner King Babcock, chairman and CEO of AM Private Enterprises Inc.

The conference closed with a keynote address by The Clemens Family Corporation’s Phil Clemens, who spoke about how his family made the transition from a “family business” to a “business family.”

Transitions West 2013’s Platinum Sponsor was PwC. Gold Sponsors were Bessemer Trust, Abbot Downing and Vogel Consulting. Silver Sponsors were the Family Business Consulting Group, SEI Private Wealth Management and The World Residences at Sea. Bronze Sponsors were Pitcairn, Withers Bergman, CFAR, University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, Altair Advisers and Kellogg School of Management’s Center for Family Enterprise.

Transitions East 2014 will be held March 26-28, 2014, at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in Tampa, Fla. For information, see













Copyright 2013 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permssion from the publisher. For reprint information, contact

Article categories: 
Print / Download
January/February 2014

Other Related Articles