NextGens to Watch 2020

We spotlight exceptional successor-generation family members, age 35 and under, who are making a difference in their family business or family governance.

Whether they aspire to work in the family company or take a leading role in governance, NextGen members of business families often struggle to find their niche. In addition to acquiring the experience and education they need to fulfill their roles, NextGens must establish credibility with family members, employees and other stakeholders.

The 26 members of our NextGens to Watch Class of 2020 are an exceptional group of accomplished young people who represent the second through the sixth generations of family ownership. We think you will enjoy meeting them and learning about their achievements.

Aubrey Shapiro Ginn, 30
Shapiro & Duncan Inc., Rockville, Md.

Aubrey, a third-generation fam­ily member, is a systems engineer at Shapiro & Duncan, a full-service mechanical contracting company.

She earned a B.S. degree in integrated systems engineering from The Ohio State University and began her career as a field engineer for the company in 2013. In that role she tracked the labor production of more than 100 employees on one of Shapiro & Duncan’s largest mechanical projects, INOVA Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Aubrey moved on to the role of assistant production manager and then became assistant project manager and later project manager.

In her current position, Aubrey works with all departments. Her favorite parts of the job are finding ways to reduce waste, create leaner processes and integrate old and new programs to increase efficiency and ­performance.

“Aubrey is emerging as a leader at Shapiro & Duncan,” says Brent Thompson, an industry friend who is finance manager at NexGen Crane & Rigging, Hamilton, Miss. “She is often searching for ways to work harder, get smarter and think ahead for the future of her family’s business.

“Aubrey is constantly trying to learn best practices from other companies in her industry. She has gained respect from other emerging leaders in construction, and she is known as someone who is willing to ask hard questions and poke holes in conventional thinking.”

“Watching the growth of the family business over the years has shown me that our people and their values are the driving force to our success,” Aubrey says. “In 1976, my grandfather started the company and grew it to 30 employees with $3 million in revenue. He then passed the business on to my father and uncle in 1993. Today, we have nearly 400 employees and $131 million in revenue.

“My uncle, who recently passed away, inspired me to follow in his footsteps. He created a company culture where people felt loved, connected and proud of their work. Having two young sons of my own, I aspire to continue on the legacy, so that if they choose, they can be the fourth generation to take ownership.”

Audrey Welch, 31
W.S. Darley & Co., Itasca, Ill.

Audrey is supply partner director for Darley Defense, W.S. Darley & Co.’s military distribution business. In her role, Audrey manages a team responsible for the company’s partnerships with key suppliers of tactical and firefighting products and services.

W.S. Darley & Co. manufactures fire engines, pumps and related equipment for first responders and distributes tactical equipment to the Department of Defense.

Audrey, a fourth-generation family member, joined the business in 2014. Prior to transitioning to defense supplier relations a year later, Audrey worked as OEM and dealer accounts manager in the fire pump sales division, where she gained exposure to the company’s manufacturing segment and grew key legacy accounts.

In her time at W.S. Darley, Audrey has served as chair of the G4 advisory group, board member of the William J. Darley Charity Fund and a member of the company’s strategic planning committee. She has also led efforts to improve employee benefits and culture, including opening a satellite office in downtown Chicago and developing a formal parental leave policy.

Audrey earned a B.S. degree in finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010. She worked as a commercial credit analyst (2010-12) and a commercial banker (2012-14) at MB Financial Bank before joining her family business.

“She exceeded our family employment policy by working outside [the family firm] longer than required, receiving several promotions before joining us, and then taking a pay cut to join us,” says her father, Paul Darley, the company’s president, CEO and chairman.

“She is a recognized leader by her peers in her 360 reviews, with no negative comments after earning her role as our director of vendor relations in our defense division.”

“The opportunity to carry on our family tradition of serving first responder and tactical communities is something I am innately proud of every day,” Audrey says. “Spending time outside of the business allowed me to not only explore my key skill sets, but to appreciate our history and realize what we have been fortunate enough to grow. 

“The shared sense of purpose that our employees and family members have is truly unique. It is a privilege to be a steward of the business and to come together with my fourth-generation peers to preserve the core values of both our family and the business.”

Bill Buchholz Jr., 35
Buck Services Inc., West Chicago, Ill.

Bill obtained his bachelor of arts degree in business and economics with a minor in international business from Benedictine University in 2007. After graduation, he joined a claims adjusting company, where he gained experience in human resources functions and was part of a team responsible for more than 1,200 employees.

He joined Buck Services officially in June 2015 and now serves as human resources manager. He works by his father’s side, assisting with payroll, benefits and other family business-related responsibilities.

Buck Services, founded in 1988, is a cleaning and maintenance company serving the school and church market.

Bill has obtained Group Benefits Associate (GBA) designation and is now working toward obtaining Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) designation.

Bill, a third-generation family member, joined the company when it was considering new programs to help with employee retention, notes Joe Buchholz, his uncle. “The need of Bill’s arrival was most apparent when we began discussions with providers in the field of insurance coverage. Bill Jr. was able to work on securing better options for the company. In addition, Bill spearheaded employee recognition days, a company newsletter, an employee referral program and the monthly Golden Hat award. This award recognizes the most outstanding team members.

“It was the immediate spark of enthusiasm and compassion that Bill brought to the office that set him apart. In the past five years he has earned the respect of all his peers by treating them honestly, fairly and with dignity.

“He continues to take on lead roles, as most recently exhibited in the handling of the COVID-19 crisis. During these times the support and appreciation that Bill has shown to over 250 team members has been truly amazing. After much deliberation it was decided that the best path for Buck Services to take, for the good of the entire team, was to furlough 200 team members on April 1. Bill has taken on this unprecedented challenge of guiding each of his team members through this very difficult process. He has developed web-based forms of communication, led the process of filling out the necessary documentation, conducted phone conversations with affected team members and their families, organized no-interest loans, partnered up with food pantries, along with keeping a strong, positive attitude with a smile.”

“My love for my family business started when I was a child at the age of 5 and quickly grew each day as I went to work with my father,” Bill says. “My passion for family business stems from seeing my father, uncles and grandfather work diligently and selflessly to start a business from the bottom up and call it their own business. The drive they had inspired me to continue the legacy for another generation to come.”

Brittany McKee East, 30
McKee Foods Corp., Collegedale, Tenn.

Brittany is the senior managerial cost accountant at McKee Foods Corporation, makers of iconic Little Debbie Snack Cakes. Her journey at the family business began with summer internships when she was 14 years old. Over the next five summers, she rotated through various roles at the company, gaining experience across many different functional areas.

After college, Brittany, a fourth-generation family member, returned to work at McKee Foods in product management and wellness. During that time, she decided to pursue a graduate degree. After graduating with an MBA in business operations and management, Brittany worked outside the business for a few years, in various industries. She eventually returned to food manufacturing as a materials planner for Fresca Foods, Inc., a General Mills co-packer in Colorado. She then returned to McKee Foods as senior cost accountant.

“In addition to her primary job functions, she is highly involved in NextGen planning and development and is part of the team driving cultural transformation,” says her husband, Jarred East.

“Growing up in a family business is a unique experience,” Brittany says. “As a child and young person, I didn’t realize the depth of the family enterprise. As I gained more work experience, I began to see the amazing opportunities that came along with owning and working at the family business. I began to feel a deep sense of purpose and ownership and also a sense of responsibility for the many employees.

“This intense sense of purpose is what drove my passion for the business — specifically, my passion for the employees and their wellbeing. I want McKee to be a great place to work, and a place where employees can bring their whole self to work.”

Emily Griesing, 30
Griesing Law LLC and Bossible LLC, Philadelphia, Pa.

Emily is the co-owner and chief strategy officer of Bossible, a marketing and business development consultancy that helps entrepreneurs, professionals and small businesses build and execute marketing plans that  enable them to gain exposure in their industries. Emily is also the marketing manager at Griesing Law. In these roles, she works alongside her mother, Francine Griesing, founder of both businesses.

Emily specializes in marketing to Millennial and Generation Z cohorts and has experience working with clients in a wide range of industries.

She graduated from Barnard College and spent her post-college years working at agencies in New York and Philadelphia, doing strategy and marketing research for Fortune 500 companies and large non-profit organizations. In 2016 she joined Griesing Law and Stiletto Savvy (Bossible’s original name).

Francine Griesing says that soon after her daughter joined Stiletto Savvy, she “insisted that the brand name was outdated and limiting as unattractive to potential male clients and the young generations. She began by leading a head-to-toe rebranding to its current moniker, Bossible.

“Although Bossible launched in Philadelphia, its reach has expanded to representing clients in New York and Los Angeles as well as other areas across the country,” Francine says. “Many of the business’s clients are referrals from satisfied existing clients — a tribute to Emily’s work ethic and the results she achieves for clients who have seen measurable increases in their business after collaborating with her. The original services, geared principally towards marketing businesses like law firms and other small professional service firms, like Griesing Law, has now expanded to numerous services and industries.

“In the four years Emily has overseen day-to-day operations and client relations, Bossible’s clients have quadrupled and its annual revenue has grown exponentially. She is now focusing on scaling the business by training new colleagues on how to attract and retain clients using the Bossible strategy.” Emily moved this year from New York to work on growing Bossible in Los Angeles.

“When I was in college, I was talking with my mom about her hesitancy around accepting job offers she had to join new law firms,” Emily says. “I suggested she start her own firm instead and she said she was afraid she wouldn’t have enough clients. I laughed and said that was ridiculous because she already had clients. She kept insisting so I stopped her and said, ‘What kind of role model would you be for me if you didn’t do something because you were afraid?’

“Fast forward 10 years and two businesses later, and here we are: two entrepreneurs who never let fear get in the way of achieving something great.”

Christopher Foster, 33
Fosven Management Co., Perrysburg, Ohio

Chris holds a bachelor of arts degree in history from the University of Oregon and an MBA from Willamette University. He started his career running the professional development department at the University of Colorado in Denver and then moved to Toledo with his wife to help run his family branch’s business, Lone Oak Trading, an e-commerce business specializing in sporting goods. He currently manages about 50% of Lone Oak’s day-to-day operations.

Since moving to the Toledo area, Chris, the oldest of the 10 fifth-generation members, has become more involved in his family office. He currently serves as chairman of the board, a position he’s held for two years. He also sits on the family council and investment committee and helps the planning committee organize and plan the family’s annual meeting.

“The initiative Chris has taken to help structure learning and engagement for his family ‘in perpetuity’ speaks volumes about his character,” says Kara Murphy, learning program manager at the Family Office Exchange.

“Chris is committed to a successful transition to his generation. His big-picture perspective will undoubtedly serve productive ends for Fosven Management Co. in the future.

“He has been a key player in helping his family build out a family council, a continuous learning program and a governance structure, and he even helps to plan family meetings in his family office.”

“I was always taught that our family legacy is for future generations,” Chris says. “It is our job to be responsible and educated stewards for those who are too young and for those who have not yet come. I try to keep that in mind when making decisions and pursuing projects for the family office.

“My current personal goals are to help make transitions, succession and education easier and more streamlined for my generation and my children’s and to try to reduce tension and issues before they arise. I want my younger cousins, their children and my children to have a positive experience with the family office, to teach them to be great stewards and do good work in our communities while supporting their wellbeing and life goals.”

Grant Nicol, 30
Nicol Investment Company LLC, Nashville, Tenn.

Grant graduated with honors from Wake Forest University in 2013 with a bachelor of science degree in finance. After graduation, he joined the leverage finance group at Wells Fargo Securities as an investment banking analyst.

After three years with Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, N.C., and New York, Grant joined Nicol Investment Co. in Nashville as an associate in 2017.

“My initial focus was to learn every facet of the real estate investment business and utilize my underwriting background to assist our ongoing acquisition, disposition and financing activity,” Grant says. “In 2019, I assumed the role of director of finance, where I focus on making well-informed capital allocation and investment decisions and developing and maintaining strategic relationships with our network of real estate professionals and lenders. Additionally, I led the company’s first venture capital investment in the property technology space. I now contribute to developing and implementing our executive team strategies as we look to position the company for long-term growth.”

“Grant is intent on becoming a responsible and thoughtful steward of his family’s wealth,” says Kara Murphy, learning program manager at Family Office Exchange (FOX). Grant is an active member of FOX’s Rising Gen community. “He stands out as a perceptive listener who patiently takes in multiple perspectives thoughtfully,” Murphy says.

“He is a careful observer capable of shedding light on insight the larger group may overlook, which is not a leadership style to underestimate.”

“As a fifth-generation member of a family business, I have a duty and desire to preserve our legacy,” Grant says. “Growing up, the family business provided me with the resources to strengthen my human and intellectual capital. My goal is to ensure future generations are afforded the same opportunities in order to become productive individuals.

“I am enthusiastic to build an ongoing education platform and contribute to estate planning. I find deep satisfaction in strengthening my investing acumen and navigating the complex world of commercial real estate. Being a future leader of a family business is a remarkable gift that I intend to maximize.”

Jarad Kleinberg, 33
MKDA, New York, N.Y.

Jarad graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA degree in film and television in 2008. “While there, I learned a number of valuable skills, such as how to direct, produce and document stories, which gave me the tools to create a cohesive image for my family business,” Jarad says. “I began my career in the film industry, where I gained hands-on experience organizing and controlling behind-the-scenes tasks, helping me understand how businesses function from the ground up.”

In 2011, he joined MKDA, an interior space planning, design and branding firm founded by Milo Kleinberg in 1959. At the firm, he has worked in many areas, including business development, marketing and information technology. As director of IT, “in addition to continuing his business development and certain marketing duties, he assisted employees with various technical issues and digital programs,” says his cousin Arielle Kleinberg, a marketing associate at MKDA.

“Over that time, he managed to synchronize all MKDA studios into one technical structure and created a new, more effective server system.”

In 2018, Jarad was promoted to director of operations and technology. “I have been able to harness my skillset to support a large network of designers and architects to help develop new, prosperous ways for us to move forward and stay ahead of the curve,” he says. “My latest task was to ensure that our employees were able to fully function from home. I am proud to say that we were up and running within 24 hours.”

Jarad’s latest initiative is the rebranding of MKDA, Arielle says. He and the director of public relations have been working with a professional branding agency. “In addition to weekly meetings with the branding agency, Jarad is ensuring that the new website, promotional items and overall corporate brand guidelines are of the highest caliber to give us an advantage over our competitors.”

“My grandfather started this business not only to use his talents to support tenants and landlords, but to give his family a better life than what he had in Vienna during the 1940s,” Jarad says. “He came to America with nothing, originally selling handkerchiefs on the streets to make ends meet, and then started MKDA as a one-man shop, which has transformed into one of the nation’s most enduring family-owned design firms.

“As a result of his inspiring story, it has given me something to believe in, something that I care deeply about and something that I would not ever want to lose. I am determined to keep my grandfather’s legacy alive by pushing our company into the future and always staying thinking of ways to adapt to the ever-changing times.”

Karly Herring, 28
1st Franklin Financial Corporation, Toccoa, Ga.

Karly Herring is part of the fourth generation of her family business, 1st Franklin Financial Corporation. Her family has been engaged in the consumer finance industry since 1941, particularly in making direct cash loans and real estate loans.

Karly graduated from Piedmont College with a bachelor’s degree in business. Before joining the family business in 2016, she owned and operated a women’s boutique for four years. “She has carried the lessons learned from her first business and entrepreneurial endeavor and has brought a new, fresh perspective to a 79-year-old finance company,” says her mother, Ginger Herring, 1st Franklin Financial’s president and CEO.

Karly began her career in the family business by developing its first social media channels and refreshing the website. “This was a big win for our employees, as they were craving a more tangible connection and visible representation of our company’s ability to keep up with the times,” Ginger says.

While working in the marketing department, Karly launched a marketing committee, whose purpose was to bridge the gap between marketing and operations. “She was able to curate a committee of employees from all six operating states and worked to listen and implement the things that they wanted and needed for their branches from a marketing perspective,” her mother says.

In the spring of 2018, Karly told Ginger she felt as if she had done all she could do in her current position. “She had the foresight and humility to say she had applied her creative talents and gotten the ball rolling, but the next level needed another type of A player that could enhance analytics, and she knew that was not where her talents were,” says Ginger. “She was ready to find another way that she could add value.

“One of the areas we had been looking to develop was our internal communications, and I began to realize this was the perfect next step for Karly.”

Karly is currently the director of internal communications and employee engagement. “She is in the process of creating a communications committee, helped relaunch our mission, vision and values, and she is launching a new intranet for the company,” Ginger says. Karly worked with the organizational development team to run a leadership retreat for regional and senior management.

“Karly is passionate about our family and is a leader helping us to develop a family council and coordinating family events for connectivity within our small family,” Ginger says. “She is first in line to remain educated about the family planning and expresses the need for that education with her sister and cousins. Within the family at the G4 level she is definitely the ‘leader of the pack.’ ”

“While I never saw myself as someone who would pursue a career in finance, I did always see myself working with people through good times and bad,” Karly says. “This business, which I only meant to stay six months in, was founded in faith, continues to grow through legacy and is constantly sustained by people who I consider family. It is one of my biggest blessings, and if they’ll have me, I’m here to stay.”

Robinson Hunt, 28
Hunt Brothers Pizza, Nashville, Tenn.

Robinson, a third-generation family member, received an undergraduate degree in business finance in 2014 from Aquinas University and immediately joined the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, where he worked for five years supporting aspiring entrepreneurs. During that time, he completed an MBA from Lipscomb University.

In 2019, Robinson joined DBH Distributing, the largest business unit in the Hunt Brothers Pizza enterprise. Hunt Brothers provides pizza to the convenience store industry, with 8,000 locations in 31 states.

Robinson initially took on a support and project management role in the sales group and has since progressed to a sales management role, says Randy Dunn, the company’s non-family vice president of operations.

“My introduction to Hunt Brothers Pizza came as a child, when I often participated in the family business’s community service events alongside my mother,” Robinson says. “When I was a teenager, I regularly conducted those events unsupervised. My first day in the field servicing stores was with my godfather was when I was 11 years old.

“I knew from an early age that I wanted to bring value to the family business, but I also recognized that I needed to bring outside experience with me. I spent my summers as a teenager serving customers with the team in the field to build a foundation of knowledge of the inner workings of the company.”

“While Robinson grew up watching family members support the business, this gave him a great base of understanding the company culture, sales priorities and supply chain operations,” Dunn says. “Without entitlements or initially given a high-level role, he has started at the bottom of the organization to gain front-line experience and earn credibility in the workplace.

“Robinson is bringing energy, perspective, technology and unique skills to the workplace as a NextGen. He is very focused on supporting the family business and remains eager to take on new roles in the future.”

“Hunt Brothers Pizza was born from the grit of four brothers who desperately needed a means to support their families,” Robinson says. “The business flourished under their leadership, and the second generation has grown it significantly to the maturity it has achieved today. The passion of the four brothers is infused within the company’s culture, and I’ve observed that same passion and focus in the second generation.

“The family business is now responsible for supporting many more families than just the Hunts, such as the families of our team members, our store owners and our consumers. We’re fortunate to work with amazing people every day, and I am honored to have the opportunity to contribute value to this organization.”

James Clement III, 35
King Ranch Inc., Houston, Texas

James is the manager of the horse division and the media and marketing of King Ranch. He also manages the livestock, natural resources and wildlife operations on Los Hermanos Ranch in Brooks County, Texas. In addition, James serves as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps Reserves. He is currently enrolled in the Johnson Executive MBA program at Cornell University.

James is a fifth-generation rancher on his mother’s side (Beggs Cattle Company, est. 1876) and a sixth-generation rancher on his father’s side (King Ranch, est. 1853).

After graduating from Goucher College, James worked on ranches in Texas, Florida, the Australian Outback and Botswana.

He enlisted in the reserves of the United States Marine Corps in 2008 and accepted a commission as an infantry officer in 2011. James has served in Afghanistan, South America and Mexico and is a graduate of Expeditionary Warfare School and U.S. Army Airborne School. His current rank is captain. James returned to the family operation from the Marine Corps in 2013.

“James has plans to expand the ranch while carrying on and blending the transitions of his two families,” says Daniel Van Der Vliet of the Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell University.

“Growing up in a multigenerational family business, focused on two ranches with 100-plus-year histories, one does not appreciate how fortunate they are until they venture out of the nest,” James says.

“By virtue of those legacies, my closest friends are cousins and my best mentors are my parents, aunts and uncles. Some never find that one thing that instills both a value system and passion. The history of fortune and misfortune over generations makes it clear neither good nor bad last forever, and each generation must work to provide for their children and the future.”

Hunter Strickler, 33
Louisville Paving & Construction Co., Louisville, Ky.

Hunter graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 2009 with a bachelor of arts degree in history and a minor in political science. He recently completed an Executive MBA through the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky’s joint program.

“I have been committed to our family business, Louisville Paving & Construction, since I was a summer laborer in high school,” Hunter says. “I represent the fifth generation of our family business and have worked my way up over the last 15-plus years from laborer, asphalt lab technician, project manager/estimator to vice president. I also oversee our family real estate holdings and serve on our board of directors.”

“Hunter is leading the next generation in our organization with a vision toward the future,” says his stepfather, John Dougherty, who is CEO of the company.

“I think being involved with a family business is a fantastically unique endeavor,” Hunter says. “I didn’t grow up as a kid enamored with construction or with any pressure to be involved with the family business. It started as a job and grew into a passion.

“I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to have incredible mentors, both family and non-family, within our organization. We have the opportunity to touch and impact lives every single day, and it has always been vital to our leadership to do so in such a way that reflects the core values. We function as a team or we fail.”

Jocelyn Gorman, 31
DSI Inc., Albuquerque, N.M.

Jocelyn joined DSI (Document Solutions Inc.), an office technology provider, in 2011, soon after her graduation cum laude from the University of Denver in 2011 with a B.A. in international relations and a minor in business.

She gained experience supporting sales teams for all seven DSI offices and developed major accounts throughout New Mexico, specializing in education, medical and government clients. She collaborated with the company’s marketing director to rebrand DSI through website redesign, social media presence, blogs and additional fresh ideas to re-engage current partnerships while building new ones. In 2015, she helped start DSI Technologies (DSIT), the managed services sister company, without traditional financing. She serves as DSIT’s president and diversified services to include managed IT services, security and surveillance, VoIP and process automation applications.

In 2018, she became vice president of sales at DSI. In that role she redefined sales territories and developed a new compensation plan.

Jocelyn serves on DSI’s board of directors and executive team. She is also a member of the board of the Parker Center for Family Business at the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management.

“Jocelyn is an inspirational young woman with skills well beyond her years,” says Robin Otten, the Parker Center’s executive director.

“Many shy away from blurring the line between family and work, but I cherish it,” Jocelyn says. “This dynamic created an organization that prides itself on prioritizing community, integrity and accountability. These are the pillars of DSI, ones I am committed to upholding as I work with my father and brother, alongside the rest of the family, to build a legacy where DSI continues to be respected in the community not only for ethical and efficient practices, but also for giving back to the community that supports them.”

Lana Farrell, 34
Resolve Marine Group, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Lana is a second-generation member of her family’s company, Resolve Marine Group, a global maritime emergency response and wreck removal organization. Resolve was founded by her father, Joseph Farrell Jr., in 1980. Lana graduated from the University of Florida cum laude with a bachelor of science in nursing degree. She worked in the intensive care, cardiac step-down and same-day surgical units following graduation. After witnessing firsthand the impact her family’s company had on the livelihood of those who worked for and with the organization as well as the environmental impact the company had in remediating wrecks and marine pollution, Lana joined Resolve.

Lana has worked in numerous roles since joining the family company, including client services, operations and, most recently, as the director of administrative development. In this role she helped strategize and reorganize internal systems and policies and worked on numerous initiatives alongside the family’s business consultants. Realizing the importance of enhancing her education, Lana pursued her MBA at Cornell University’s SC Johnson School of Management. Lana will graduate from Johnson this May and will return to Resolve.

“Lana’s decision to return to school was fueled by her determination to explore additional ways in which to make a global impact through her work. Whether in the classroom or out in the field, Lana continues to seek out impactful opportunities to learn new skills and grow her knowledge base in a manner valuable to the family’s business and ongoing legacy,” says Erin Kelly of the Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell.

“In addition to her incredible individual accomplishments, Lana and her brother Joseph, impressive in his own right, have led the way in the development of better governance within the business to aid in the succession of business ownership and management.”

“My family business has dealt with some of the most complex emergency response disasters on the planet — many that you can simply never be fully prepared for until they hit,” Lana says. “Our capacity to remain agile and results-driven is a direct result of empowering people from a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, and my family has been an integral part of helping me realize that as long as we stay together, nothing is sinking this ship.' ”

Kristen Grimley Kavanagh, 28
Grimley Financial Corporation, Cherry Hill, N.J.

Kristen earned her degree from Saint Joseph’s University in healthcare marketing with a minor in family business in 2014. She graduated with magna cum laude honors and earned her MBA from Saint Joseph’s in 2016.

In 2014, Kristen joined Grimley Financial Corporation (GFC), which provides third-party collection services. She started as new business development specialist and then earned a promotion to manager of revenue cycle. In 2018, she was named vice president of operations.

Recently, Kristen spearheaded a food drive, representing GFC as the corporate sponsor working with Catholic Charities to purchase and deliver busloads of food to the hungry throughout Camden County, N.J.

“With a small team, Kristen wears many hats, but she has worked hard to establish herself as an essential member of the staff and someone on whom her father counts to fulfill and maintain daily operations,” says Brian Brogan, director of the Initiative for Family Business & Entrepreneurship at Saint Joseph’s University. “She continues to work with her parents and other mentors to prepare herself for future leadership/ownership roles.”

“Having grown up in a family business and being familiar with the entrepreneurial business environment and watching my parents interact with their pursuit of the American Dream, it was natural for me to want to follow in their footsteps,” Kristen says.

“The best part about a family business is the day-to-day interaction with your colleagues and other family members that are all striving for the same cause through a business culture that enjoys an incredibly high morale.

“I was blessed with good DNA, an excellent motor and a very high level of passion for anything I tackle in life, and I have applied those qualities to my family business, which I enjoy immensely.”

Langdon Evans, 29
Laird Norton Company, Seattle, Wash.

Langdon is a sixth-generation member of a 165-year-old family enterprise. Laird Norton, founded as a frontier logging operation in the Midwest, is now involved in wealth management and ­investing.

Langdon has been actively involved in various parts of the family business since starting with the family’s youth philanthropy committee at age 14. For the past eight years he has been a member of the Family Council Committee, a body of 13 family members that manages family programs and communications.

He has served as the chair of the Next Generation Member Education Committee for four years, focusing primarily on planning the annual Next Gen Summit for family members. Langdon has taken an active role in developing and writing several governance documents for the family, including the code of conduct and social media policy.

After working in the family office as a summer intern rewriting the family member handbook, he joined Trusted Family, which provides an online governance platform for family businesses and family offices. After five years there he joined PwC’s family enterprise advisory services group. 

Langdon has an educational background in psychology and leadership training. He is dedicated to helping family businesses like his own and hopes to serve on his family’s board of directors in the future.

“Langdon has been actively involved in his family enterprise since he was a kid, attending family meetings and taking every opportunity to engage that was available to him,” says Barton Parrott of Wealthbridge Partners, who has known the family since Langdon was a child.

“He continues to actively learn and apply what he learns. He is a great example of the reasons families invest in their human capital as their greatest asset. It has been a pleasure to see him continue to grow and develop. and I look forward to seeing what he does next.”

“I have always felt very fortunate to be part of such an amazing family legacy and know that I have had many opportunities unique to being part of a family business,” Langdon says. “I want to make sure that my children and future generations are able to have the same or similar opportunities.

“Being a successful family business is not just about managing a company or enterprise the right way. It’s about navigating the complex relationships and dynamics that being a family brings. I believe this is also why it is so rewarding when it goes well. I hope that by helping other families work toward their own legacies, I can also help my family reflect on what we have done well, could have done better and hope to accomplish in the future.”

Kyle Eisele, 23
Coast Tile & Marble Supply, Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

Kyle attended Saint Joseph’s University and received a degree in family business and entrepreneurship and marketing. He grew up around entrepreneurs and business professionals, specifically his grandfather, who started many of his own successful companies that the family still runs today. Inspired by his upbringing, Kyle has started two companies of his own.

Since graduating, Kyle has continued to grow both of his own companies while focusing on capturing market share at Coast Tile and Marble Supply. He works directly with Coast Tile’s marketing agency on rolling out new marketing and branding strategies.

Kyle has used his practical skills from scaling two startup ventures and his education from Saint Joseph’s to help Coast Tile get its name and reputation for customer service in front of more people. Working with his brother, father and two uncles has allowed him to learn from an experienced team.

“Kyle is actively pursuing multiple new revenue streams and marketing opportunities to bring new visibility to the well-regarded business, such as TV and radio spots, live social media updates and reimagined showroom displays,” says Brian Brogan, director of the Institute for Family Business & Entrepreneurship at Saint Joseph’s University.

“I have my family business to thank for opportunities that would have never been available to me otherwise,” Kyle says.

“I believe in the value of a competitive environment and I wanted an environment that challenged me every day to be better, because that is where true growth occurs. I have been blessed to have a family and a business that pushed me the be the best man I can be.”

Megan Weiler Green, 34
Weiler Products, Knoxville, Iowa

Megan serves as counsel and engineering manager at Weiler, which designs, engineers and manufactures equipment for the paving market. She is also counsel for Weiler Forestry Inc. in LaGrange, Ga.

Megan is a graduate of Iowa State University (B.S., finance) and the University of Iowa College of Law (juris doctorate). She worked for nine years as in-house counsel for State Farm Insurance Companies in Bloomington, Ill., counseling clients in multiple states on legislative, regulatory, public policy, banking, litigation and public policy issues.

In 2017, Megan and her family moved back to her home state of Iowa. Her family’s manufacturing business was growing rapidly and needed dedicated counsel. Megan’s work experience and passion for the family business made the move a natural fit. She joined as counsel and procurement manager. She transitioned from procurement to engineering in 2019 and now manages the engineering, service, product safety and technical publications groups.

Megan led Weiler through a major acquisition as the company closed on the purchase of Caterpillar’s purpose-built forestry business in the fall of 2019. She is a member of the company’s senior leadership team and is president of the Weiler Foundation for charitable giving.

“Megan is a smart, talented, hardworking NextGen. She has helped to grow and transform her family business,” says Stephanie Larscheid, executive director of the Prairie Family Business Association.

“Megan has helped onboard other family members and helped them begin and succeed in their new line of work. She has led her family in working on their business. She is enjoyable to be around and is an inspiration to many.”

“As a second-generation family business owner, I’ve been able to witness firsthand the intense work and passion that is required to make a business successful,” Megan says.

“Our business is in heavy equipment manufacturing, but that’s not all that we are passionate about. We are passionate about our employees, their families, the communities where they live and producing a quality product to fill the needs of our customers. We want to do the right thing even when the right thing is not the easy thing.”

Matthew Gottesdiener, 33
Northland Investment Corporation, Newton, Mass.

Matthew is the chief investment officer for Northland, a real estate private equity firm. He directs all aspects of the firm’s investment activity, including acquisitions, dispositions and financings. He plays a leading role in setting and monitoring the company’s vision and strategy. In his role as CIO, Matthew also oversees fund-level risk management and pursues new business development, including capital formation and strategic partnerships. Since joining Northland, Matthew has been responsible for the acquisition of 7,400 units, the disposition of 5,250 units and the financing of over 65 properties, totaling more than $3.3 billion in capital events.

Matthew holds a B.A. from Yale University, magna cum laude. Before joining Northland, he worked at Goldman Sachs as an investment professional across a variety of roles, including managing the corporate derivatives trading book, executing and hedging over $40 billion in transactions with more than 20 Fortune 100 companies.

“Matthew stepped into the family business and filled a key role at a key time. His father had just bought out his partner and made Northland a true family business,” says Bryan Bloom, a partner at the law firm of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath. “I have personally witnessed how Matthew was able to integrate himself with senior management and proved to be an asset, gaining the respect of all.”

“At Northland, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to advance our mission of providing homes, building community and creating joy for our tens of thousands of residents across the country,” Matthew says. “I joined a firm with a 25-year track record of consistent outperformance and an unwavering dedication to our investors, employees and residents. I am humbled by the responsibility to help chart the next 25 years for Northland.“

Yonatan Dotan, 27
Agman Partners, Omaha, Neb.

Yonatan’s great-grandfather, Ben Seldin, began an insurance practice in 1923. After World War II, his focus shifted from insurance brokerage to real estate, and as the second generation became involved in the business, the family ventured into home building, real estate development and property management. The family’s real estate business has evolved substantially since then and now includes a portfolio of multifamily, office and retail properties, alongside operating businesses that provide brokerage, development asset and property management services.

Yonatan has been involved with the family’s real estate portfolio since completing an internship during his junior year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“That internship gave me the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the industry, from leasing and marketing to financing and development, and generally helped me get a better grasp for what I wanted to do professionally after college,” Yonatan says. “I probably knew at that point that I would end up working in the family business, but it was important for me to gain some firsthand experience and develop my own perspective and skill set independently before returning full-time.”

After college, Yonatan took a position as a financial analyst at Scion Group, the largest privately held owner-operator of student housing communities in the United States, where he worked on more than $3 billion of acquisitions.

“Today, Yonatan leads the family’s real estate practice, overseeing a portfolio of directly owed properties and operating businesses with over $1 billion in assets under management, including over 15,000 units of residential apartments and 5 million square feet of commercial property,” says Howard Scott Silverman, Agman Partners’ founder and CEO and Yonatan’s second cousin. “He serves as a board member for Seldin Company and OMNE Partners and is on Metonic Real Estate Solutions’ investment committee.”

“I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from and work alongside members of our family who helped build the foundations of the family business,” Yonatan says. “Going forward, our goal is to continue evolving, maintaining our real estate assets, scaling our operating companies and shaping the future of our family business.”

Nick Rhomberg, 31
Crescent Electric Supply Co., East Dubuque, Ill.

Nick graduated from the University of Iowa with degrees in marketing and international business in 2011. After college, he spent more than five years working in management roles for Target Corporation.

He began working at Crescent Electric Supply in 2015 as a management trainee. After a year he transitioned to energy business development manager. In this role, he learned a lot about lighting and how to leverage national vendor partnerships. He then accepted an account manager role.

As account manager, Nick called on small and medium-sized contractors, energy accounts and some industrial accounts, says Kathy Munson, chair of the Schmid Family Council. “He received company recognition in 2019 as Top 10 Account Manager in e-commerce sales and Top 25 Account Manager in top-line sales.” Nick attributes his success in that position to the strong team around him.

Nick recently was promoted to Denver district manager, overseeing five locations in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. “I am excited to continue my career growth with Crescent Electric Supply and help bring additional value to the market,” he says.

“Nick understands the needs of customers and how to work as a team to accomplish those needs,” says Jerry Tucker, Crescent Electric’s West Region vice president.

Nick has also served on the Schmid Family Council for the past four years. “My experience working in the family business has allowed me to contribute in unique ways,” he says. “In addition, my interaction on the family council has helped create more synergy between the family and the business.”

“Nick is currently the only G4 working in our family-owned business and, in many, ways, he is the ‘face’ of the Schmid family among our employees,” Munson says.

“He played an important role in our 100th anniversary planning in 2019 and composes our annual employee thank-you note, which is sent to all employees on the date of our company’s anniversary.

“Chosen as one of our first G4 representatives to our Schmid Family Council (and attaining unanimous re-election), Nick has worked tirelessly the past four years to help his generation become a more cohesive group,” Munson says. “He has generated ideas for rallying the G4s around philanthropy activities and now represents the G4s on our council’s Philanthropy Committee. We are continuously thankful for Nick’s many contributions to our family and our business.”

“Working in our family business is exciting and very fulfilling,” Nick says. “While it comes with additional challenges and expectations than working elsewhere, I embrace the trial and work even harder to excel. Respect is earned, not given. This mentality is critical to ongoing success.

“There is no greater feeling than helping fellow teammates grow the overall results and brand of our family business. We recently eclipsed the 101-year mark in business, and I plan to help drive continued success over many more decades.”

Trish Weisberg, 25
Service Wire Company, Culloden, W.Va.

Trish, a third-generation family member, serves as a management trainee in Service Wire’s manufacturing plant and sales facility. In the past year, she has developed inventory control systems, worked in the production area and been actively involved in all elements of manufacturing processes and supply chain logistics at the company, a wire and cable manufacturer.

This summer, she plans to transition into a sales and marketing role out of the Houston facility, rounding out the training program. Her long-term aim is to add value by strengthening the tie between the operational and sales arms of the organization.

Prior to joining the family business, Trish worked in executive compensation consulting at Mercer, advising Fortune 500 companies on compensation strategies and corporate governance policies.

Trish has a BBA from Southern Methodist University and is currently pursuing an MBA at Rice University. She received her Six Sigma Green Belt and is currently pursuing the Certified Electrical Professional designation from the National Association of Electrical Distributors.

“In the past year, Trish’s role has been equal parts contributing and learning,” says her father, Louis Weisberg, Service Wire’s president. “She has rotated through all of our operational divisions, including shipping, wire cutting, inventory management, maintenance and quality systems.

“She has worked on third shift, packaged product and led inventory management teams, never afraid to get her hands dirty and always with a sense of gratitude for our many tenured and passionate employees. Trish is results-oriented and seeks excellence in collaborations in her internal dealings with key personnel from the shop room floor to the executive suite.

“She also actively advocates for our family business culture. Last year, she led an initiative to create an annual Christmas event, ‘Cookies with Martha,’ honoring a retired board member and family employee. By working diligently alongside her colleagues and always being willing to lend a helping hand or an ear, Trish reemphasizes our family-oriented culture and reminds our employees what we are all about at Service Wire.

“She understands that her actions contribute to employee understanding of the business and remains positive in the light of challenging problems. She believes that learning and listening will always be integral to her success at Service Wire Company.”

“I have spent the entirety of my life hearing about the meaningful and significant milestones happening at Service Wire,” Trish says. “I had always envisioned joining on full-time and as such I sought opportunities to shadow. I became involved while in college and during vacation time post-graduation. I was eager when the opportunity arose to become officially a part of the team. 

“Growth in American manufacturing is often thought of as a faded dream, but I get to see it every day. From spending time with our third-shift manufacturing team to working with maintenance, there is nothing I love more than being a part of the Service Wire team.”

Shafin Damani, 30
Ultra Group of Companies, Norcross, Ga.

Shafin is a second-generation family member working in his family’s gaming business and embedded family office.

Shafin earned a BBA degree from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. After graduating, he worked outside the family business in user acquisition and analytics at a VC-funded tech startup and in private wealth management technology at a large consulting firm. He eventually joined the family business to helm a regulatory and a family employee transition.

After a year in the business, he left to pursue an MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

At Kellogg, he was involved in the Center for Family Enterprises, where he made friends with family business members and learned from family business scholars and practitioners. With these experiences and relationships, Shafin returned to his family’s business to begin the transition from the first to the second generation, change the company’s culture and start an embedded family office.

“He started by managing the R&D team and reorganized that department for better performance using the latest tools and hired a product manager,” says his mother, Nadiya Damani, the CEO. “Then he took on additional responsibilities of managing the sales department and worked with his professional network to revamp the commission plan. Once this was accomplished, he focused his efforts on machine performance by implementing business intelligence tools and using his data analytics background to analyze the performance of each machine, each machine type and respective locations, using this data to improve the machine mix at each location to maximize location revenue.”

Then, Nadiya says, “he focused his attention on the field service and operations department. He hired new, fresh talent that could assist him in raising the bar by identifying the proper software tools to automate, track and measure many of the functions in this department. Besides automating, many new functions were implemented.

“Now, he has embarked on a new mission of improving the company and product brand and direct-to-consumer marketing. He continues to amaze us and our entire team with his focused and dedicated approach to improving company performance and taking it to new heights.

“He was instrumental in engaging the Cox Family Business Center as a consultant to our family to help us identify our family enterprise goals and assist us to be a unified, successful family.”

“Family businesses are platforms to have meaningful impact in the families and the business stakeholders they serve,” Shafin says. “This platform has allowed our family to amplify our values through initiatives such as prioritizing diversity in hiring, supporting our employees and their families in difficult times, and thinking in the very long-term. 

“After first joining the business, I was frustrated by characteristics shared by many family enterprises: the time to effect change, consensus decision making and conservative plans for growth. Over time, I realized that it was these characteristics which made the business resilient. This resilience is unique to being a family business and has been extremely evident during coronavirus, allowing us to prioritize safety and have stability to support our stakeholders.”

Victoria Tadewald, 23
Mary Kay Inc., Addison, Texas

Victoria graduated in May 2019 from the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in international affairs, specializing in Africa and the Middle East, with a minor in anthropology. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environmental policy with the hope of someday enacting laws to protect the environment.

Victoria is the great-granddaughter of Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. Although Victoria does not work at the corporate offices of Mary Kay, she has positioned herself in various leadership roles in her family’s governance council and philanthropic foundation board with the goal of encouraging cooperation, forging multigenerational connections and preserving her family values for years to come.

Since Victoria was a little girl, she has been inspired by the work of her great-grandmother. Upon turning 18, Victoria expressed her desire to join the family efforts to preserve her great-grandmother’s vision, and was welcomed with open arms.

As the youngest member of her family’s governance council, Victoria acts as the voice for her generation and has assumed the role of coordinating the family’s young adult learning initiatives.

“The young adult program has allowed for the group to interact and learn together in a safe environment, which as a result has created a community of confident individuals who are willing and eager to make connections with their family members,” she says.

In addition to her role on her family governance council, Victoria serves on the board of her family foundation. She describes the foundation as the highlight of the family’s annual gatherings. “Not only have we built meaningful relationships by sharing our passions through the charities that we choose to support,” she says, “but we have also forged a narrative of philanthropic stewardship that will hopefully transcend generations.”

“When her family began building more robust meetings six years ago, Victoria didn’t hesitate to raise her hand to help,” says Jeff Strese, chief learning officer at Tolleson Wealth Management. “Since then, she is known for her positive interactions, thoughtful engagement and active participation in helping create a strong culture for her family.

“Victoria demonstrates her leadership through her passion for bettering herself and those around her. Her continued efforts to learn and grow are evident by her interactions. She is a poised, influential speaker and has a unique style that provides clarity for her generation’s dreams and concerns.

“She has shown her ability to facilitate complex decision making at a young age, helping to lead the family council’s decision on how to prioritize the family foundation’s funding decisions.

“Overall, based on her quick grasp of leadership responsibilities and her hunger to grow, Victoria represents a NextGen leader who takes on new opportunities, absorbs all she can to learn and is empowered to make her family’s governance stronger.”

Sarah St. John, 31
Fisher & Son Company, Exton, Pa.

Sarah is a fifth-generation leader of Fisher & Son, a turf and horticultural products distributor. A graduate of West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Sarah learned the business from the bottom by beginning her career in 2011 as an administrative assistant. She helped with odds and ends in the office before moving into a customer service role in 2013.

In 2015, she became the operations manager, leading a team of 15 and fine-tuning warehouse and inventory management. At age 29, Sarah acquired 50% ownership and assumed the role of vice president.

Sarah oversees the daily operations of the business in addition to the financial management of the company.

“Sarah is an emotionally mature, thoughtful leader in the family business,” says Sally Derstine, managing partner of the Delaware Valley Family Business Center.

“Sarah is currently serving as VP, and her uncle is serving as the president. They are also both shareholders and are navigating this complexity quite well. Recently they have acquired a new location, which Sarah is managing.

“Sarah is working hard at her own personal and professional development,” Derstine says. “She is part of a leadership lab for the rising generation, and the other members respect and learn a lot from her; she is one of the youngest persons in the group.

“She is articulate and thoughtful and has a stewardship mindset.”

“I am incredibly proud and honored to be a part of, and lead, our family business,” Sarah says. “It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to represent the fifth generation and learn all aspects of our business. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow in my role as an owner. “

Somia Farid Silber, 27
Edible Brands, Atlanta, Ga.

Somia is the vice president of ecommerce for Edible Brands, the parent company of Edible Arrangements, a gourmet gift shop selling fresh fruit arrangements. She is responsible for overseeing digital marketing and ecommerce operations for the brand.

Somia is the daughter of Edible founder Tariq Farid, who opened the chain’s first location when Somia was 6 years old. She spent much of her childhood and teen years working at the stores before transitioning to an internship at the brand’s corporate headquarters, working with various teams to familiarize herself with all aspects of the business.

Upon graduating from Babson College in Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management, Somia spent time at a digital media agency in Boston. She returned to the family business in 2016 and has since filled various roles at Edible and Netsolace, the IT arm of Edible. 

In 2018, Somia moved from her home state of Connecticut to Atlanta to work in Edible’s relocated corporate headquarters.

“She moved the operation from Connecticut to Atlanta, hired a new team and has quickly changed the digital marketing and ecommerce strategies based on consumer trends,” says Lauri Union, executive director of the Institute for Family Entrepreneurship at Babson College.

“Somia has deftly returned the company’s web business to growth, deploying a social media strategy focused on engagement that is building the brand’s appeal with Millennials.

“Through all of this, Somia has established herself as a leader in her own right, finding her own voice and not letting her own age limit her impact.”

“I grew up watching my dad build and grow Edible Arrangements,” Somia says. “Some of my earliest memories are from our first store in East Haven, Conn., and visiting our first few franchisees when they were opening their stores.

“Witnessing the growth of Edible firsthand and working in various roles from a very early age has helped me become the leader I am today. Edible’s mission is to wow customers and celebrate what’s good in life. Our products bring a smile to every recipient’s face, no matter the occasion, and this is why I am so proud to work at Edible and look forward to continue growing the business.” 




Article categories: 
July/August 2020

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