NextGens to Watch 2022

Rising-generation members who want to contribute to their family business need relevant education and experience, but that’s not all. They also must prove themselves as indispensable contributors to the enterprise.

The 18 NextGens featured here have excelled in meeting that challenge. Many have worked their way up the ladder in their family company. Others work in their family office, managing investments or philanthropy. Some are playing important roles in family governance.

Members of the NextGens to Watch Class of 2022 represent the second through the fifth generation of their family. They’re based all over the United States (from Upstate New York to California’s Santa Clara Valley) and beyond (Canada and Argentina).

Of those who are working in the family business, some joined right out of college or after graduate school. Others entered the family firm after college, left to attend grad school or work elsewhere, and then returned (or are planning to return) to their family firm.

Some of these rising stars didn’t originally plan to work for their families. “As with many things in life, I didn’t realize the immense opportunity and privilege I had right in front of me until I had experienced life after college and in the professional world away from the comforts of home,” says Alexandra Justis of Doyle Security Systems, based in Rochester, N.Y.

Others, like Sarah Fultz of Post Leasing & Sales in Knoxville, Tenn., planned to join the family business since childhood. Even so, Fultz wanted to make her own way within the company. She found a role where she could thrive — one that involves “wearing multiple hats while tackling new challenges each day.”

These stellar NextGens recognize that their families’ willingness to let them carve their own niche has been a major contributor to their success. Says Aaron Chin of Organika Health Products in Richmond, British Columbia, “If you’re able to have freedom for your creativity — if you’re given freedom to make mistakes — it sets you up for an amazing journey.” 

ROSE McNEELY, 29
Fourth generation
The Meritex Company, St. Paul, Minn.

Rose is the first female family member, and the first fourth-generation McNeely family member, to be employed at Meritex, a real estate investment and management company that acquires, develops, owns and operates industrial properties.

In early May, Rose was promoted to senior investment analyst. She has been lead analyst on more than $104 million of investment transactions.

Rose graduated from the University of St. Andrews in 2015. Prior to joining Meritex in 2019, she worked in finance at CliftonLarsonAllen. In 2020, she was elected as a founding member of the McNeely family council, which serves as a conduit between the family and the company’s board of directors. In her family council role, she has served as head of communications and twice as special committee lead.

“Rose is an exceptional example of a next-generation member who fully embraces both their opportunities and their responsibilities as a member of a business-owning family,” says Todd Smith, a principal at CFAR, a consulting firm that serves family businesses and other organizations.

“In addition to pursuing qualifications to be employed in the family enterprise, she has been extremely active in the family governance — serving on the family council, leading various initiatives, and building strong and lasting relationships with all members of the family. She pays attention to the specifics in every instance. She exemplifies what every successful multi­generational family needs in its members.”

“My passion for family business grows from my passion for family,” Rose says. “Through my time at Meritex, I have grown in my understanding of what it means to serve my family, as well as finding fulfillment in my work by carrying on the legacy passed from my father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

“I feel immense pride in being the first female family member to work at Meritex, particularly in a historically male-dominated industry and position. Through my work in industrial real estate, I hope I can demonstrate to my female family members, as well as the younger generation of women in business, that it is an asset to lead with kindness and to find strength in being yourself. I am grateful every day to be a member of my family and my family business, and strive to make both proud.”

JULIAN BOYD, 32
Second generation
D'Bo's Inc., Memphis, Tenn.

Julian is the president of Boyd Franchising and a co-owner of D’Bo’s Inc. The business was started almost 33 years ago by his parents, David and Leticia Boyd, and was the first hot wing restaurant to open in Memphis. Julian also serves as the director of sales for Boyd Foods Inc., which houses the proprietary products for the restaurants.

In 2011, D’Bo’s took first place in the “creative sweet” category at the National Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo, N.Y. In its January 2016 issue, Men’s Journal included D’Bo’s in its listing of “Where to Find the Best Chicken Wings in the U.S.”

Julian graduated from Morehouse College in 2012 and worked at Raytheon Corporation for four years. He earned an MBA in 2018 from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, N.C., focusing on entrepreneurship and family business. After graduation, he partnered with Rising Phoenix LLC to consult and manage the growth of several franchise concepts in the Rising Phoenix business portfolio. From 2019 to 2021 he partnered with The Original Hot Dog Factory as the vice president of franchise sales and helped add more than 20 franchise partners to the network in less than a year. He also partnered with Hattie Marie’s Texas BBQ on a two-store deal in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

“Julian Boyd was a memorable MBA student,” says Lauren ­Willets, assistant director of student and alumni engagement at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Family Enterprise Center. “While in school and deciding if he was going to return to D’Bos Wings, Julian had an internship with a global franchise company. He wanted to learn from a company that had figured out franchising. He saw franchising as an opportunity for his family.

“Julian is a charismatic leader, but he is also always focused on his own self-development. He found one of the best coaches in the industry to work with over the past few years during the global pandemic to make sure he was ready for the company to grow when the time was right. The time is now right, and Julian has the energy to help lead this restaurant founded by his parents in the early 1990s into a nationwide recognizable brand.”

“My passion for my family’s business stems from the strong foundation that was set for my brothers and myself from our parents,” Julian says. “I grew up almost every day of my life seeing my parents working for themselves in the family business, so I knew what my path would likely be, but I knew I wanted it to be different.

“I always take pride in our humble beginnings as a Black-owned business that started from a food truck to as many as five locations open simultaneously. We’ve now franchised locations in Detroit (Southfield), Mich., and Memphis and are also going to open in Winter Haven, Fla. (near Orlando); Chicago; Atlanta; Olive Branch, Miss.; and a few other markets.

“I’m proud that I am taking this business to new heights through franchising, and we are actively looking for those looking to do so! My main focus is helping small businesses grow through franchising. To date, I’ve worked on over 40 franchise deals, and it’s truly been a blessing to grow my family’s brand as well.”

BROOKE STUTSMAN, 26
Fourth generation
Eldon C. Stutsman Inc., Hills, Iowa

Brooke is part of the fourth generation of Eldon C. Stutsman Inc., a diverse agribusiness located in Hills, Iowa.  She graduated from Iowa State University in 2017 with a degree in agricultural studies and a minor in general business. That September she took a position at the family business in the human resource department. To solidify her knowledge in human resource regulation and compliance, she obtained her MBA with a human resource management focus in May 2021.

Brooke has led efforts in developing a comprehensive onboarding process, implementing efficiency-boosting software and establishing outreach activities with local youth interested in pursuing careers in the agriculture and transportation sectors. In addition to the big-picture items, she works on benefit administration, processing payroll, employee wellness and employee relations. 

Brooke is a leader, along with other members of the fourth generation, in creating and implementing a family constitution. She felt this was important to have in place as the business and the family continue to grow. Through monthly meetings, she and other fourth-generation leaders have moved the needle on governance, philanthropy, company mission and core values and have tackled other organization improvement projects as assigned by the executive team.

“Brooke is an engaging, positive, encouraging NextGen in our peer group,” says Heidi Vermeer-Quist, a licensed clinical psychologist and family business consultant who facilitates NextGen peer groups at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Family Business Center.

“She is passionate about bringing her family business to new heights in terms of HR development and family business governance. She is quick to brainstorm solutions and provide support to fellow NextGens. I’m excited about her current and future leadership in her family business.”

“We see Brooke as a connector between generations in her family’s business,” says Dan Beenken, director of the UNI Family Business Center. “She has such a strong appreciation for the legacy and the hard work that the current leadership generation is putting in.”

“My passion for family business comes from watching my grandfather and father work day-to-day in the organization,” Brooke says. “Their commitment and drive to make Eldon C. Stutsman Inc. the best it can be for our employees, customers and community is very inspiring. Because of this, I find it pretty natural that I am passionate when it comes to helping our employees.

“Whether it’s picking a health insurance plan that best fits their needs or discussing PTO options as they plan their family vacation, I greatly value getting to work alongside some of the best people in our industry, including the active family members (second, third and fourth generations) in the business.”

EVAN REIMAN, 27
Fourth generation
Krause Group, Des Moines, Iowa

Evan is a fourth-generation (married-in) family member working at Krause Group in the real estate department. He began his career in aircraft sales in Lincoln, Neb., after graduating from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a bachelor’s degree in air transport administration. Upon moving home to Des Moines, Iowa, Evan joined the family business in 2019.

Krause Group is the parent company to a diverse set of businesses that include convenience retail (Kum & Go), logistics, Italian wineries and hospitality, real estate, agriculture and soccer clubs.

In his first position with Kum & Go, Evan was an analyst in the real estate department, serving on the team that championed the rollout of the Kum & Go entry into the Grand Rapids, Mich., market. In 2021, Evan transitioned to Krause+ (Krause Group’s real estate development company) and began his current role as real estate manager. He is responsible for Krause Group development projects in the Des Moines Western Gateway corridor and is currently pursuing his MBA with an emphasis in finance from the University of Iowa.

Niki Mason, senior vice president of store development at Kum & Go, says that Evan has excelled in each role he has held in the business. “In his previous role, he established and revised real estate processes to accelerate our new market growth and add consistency across the department. In his current role, he is taking that experience and is applying it to a new business to build process and organizational capability. Evan excels in relationship building and quickly builds trust with his teams. This provides the foundation for the changes that he implements.”

“Evan is a compassionate and wise next-generation leader. He is quick to support others, encourage and find solutions. I also see him as a visionary with strong foundational values of integrity, generosity, faith, hard work, respect, responsibility and persistence,” says Heidi Vermeer-Quist, a licensed clinical psychologist and facilitator of the University of Northern Iowa Family Business Center’s Next Generation Peer Groups.

“I am honored to be a part of our family business,” Evan says. “I enjoy a front-row seat, witness to the impact our companies make in the lives of our associates and in the communities where we do business. Working side-by-side with several generations of family allows all of us to collectively advance the family’s mission to benefit many future generations to come.

“For me, being a member of the team researching, planning and executing our launch into a new market was a great lesson in how far we’ve come as a family business from when Kum & Go first began in 1959 as a single-store business. Today, as a real estate manager for Krause+, I am fortunate to see projects close to our corporate headquarters that are continuing to revitalize the Western Gateway area of Des Moines. I look forward to many more opportunities within Krause Group to grow personally, professionally and as a family.”

KATE BEGAN, 29
Second generation
Polycase, Cleveland, Ohio

In January 2022, Kate became president of Polycase, an ­ecommerce business that designs and manufactures a proprietary line of enclosures for electronic components and electrical equipment. Kate graduated summa cum laude from Babson College in 2015 with a concentration in finance and computational mathematical finance. After graduation, she worked in investment banking for a year before returning home to join the family business.

Kate initially focused on marketing and process improvements. She spent several years revamping marketing efforts, redesigning the ecommerce website and automating internal processes. The new website expanded the company’s reach, streamlined the ordering process and improved the customer experience. Her contributions have enabled Polycase to more than double revenue since she joined in 2016.

Steve Began founded Polycase in 1990 with the vision of selling high-quality enclosures directly to customers. Steve has begun to pass the leadership to second-generation family members.

As president, Kate develops strategic initiatives and goals to continue growing the business while preserving the aspects of Polycase that have made it successful for the past 32 years.

“I have had the opportunity to observe her leadership as she has guided the business through a time of high growth and many changes,” says Lauri Union, Nulsen Family Executive Director of the Babson College Institute for Family Entrepreneurship.

“Kate has transitioned rapidly from ‘daughter of the founder’ to leader of the business with confidence, poise and a high level of business acumen.

“Kate is stewarding a strong team and preparing the business for growth and success in the next generation of family leadership. She values family relationships and is putting in the effort required to strengthen both family relationships and the business.”

“One of the things I love about Polycase is that it’s truly a family business,” Kate says. “My sister, Jessica, and my brother-in-law, Jeff, also serve critical leadership roles in the company.

“As second-generation leaders of a growing business, it is vitally important to us that we maintain the culture that made our company successful. We are who we are because of our team. We are dedicated to our customers, the company and, most importantly, to each other.

“Polycase has averaged double-digit grown for over a decade. It has an incredible foundation based on customer service, speed and quality, and that will continue to be our focus into the future.

“Working at a manufacturing company that sells plastic boxes doesn’t always seem glamorous, but I love everything about it. It’s not the product that fuels my excitement; it’s problem solving, finding opportunities and growing together as a team.”

AARON CHIN, 31
Second generation
Organika Health Products, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Aaron was born in Vancouver, B.C., and studied at the University of British Columbia, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in political science with a minor in economics. He then pursued a master’s degree in international business at the Grenoble Ecole de Management in Grenoble, France. He has worked at Organika for the past nine years.

Born into an Asian family with traditional Chinese roots, Aaron saw his father, Thomas Chin, build Organika, a natural wellness and beauty company, from the ground up. His dad never forced him to join the business or go to business school — it was his own passion to do so.

Aaron started out at Organika as a purchasing assistant. “I realized pretty quickly why my dad put me there — because every dollar you save goes to the bottom line right away, and you can have a real impact on your overall business,” he says. “And I feel that’s why we’ve been able to really have a good grasp on the supply chain, because of those longstanding relationships from when I was in purchasing.”

From purchasing, Aaron moved to sales. He managed the national sales team and subsequently became vice president of sales while also overseeing marketing. He then moved into the C-suite.

Aaron works with his older brother, Jordan Chin, who serves as Organika’s president and COO and is currently on paternity leave. “For us, what’s been really key is the relationship outside of work,” Aaron says.

In 2021, the Globe and Mail listed Organika as one of Canada’s “Top Growing Companies,” with 73% revenue growth over three years. Organika is available in more than 5,000 stores across Canada. The company manufactures and packages its products in its own facility in Richmond, B.C.

Aaron instituted a series of cultural, team and process changes, including a new leadership team and training and development opportunities. The company pivoted from an emphasis on supplements and vitamins to powders, such as collagen powders and bone broth powders. Aaron’s goal is to expand Organika’s market share in Canada and break into the U.S. market.

“Aaron puts people at the core of his focus, driving them to improve,” says Mathew Stiver-Balla, Organika’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “He is a leader who focuses on leading with transparency and empathy. Aaron is humble and driven, and his passion for health and wellness is infectious to everyone he interacts with.”

Early on when Aaron and Jordan joined the business, their father told them, “My ceiling is your floor.”

Those words “unlocked our minds to really think big,” Aaron says.

“It’s been a joy working on our family business because my dad’s trusted us with it. When we came in, right away, he essentially gave us the reins. We made a ton of mistakes, but we’ve learned from them.”

KALEEN ALLYN, 27
Fifth generation
50 State LLC, Skaneateles, N.Y. 

Kaleen is the director and head of private market investing for 50 State LLC, a private family office. She focuses on strategic investments across private equity, real estate, venture capital, and direct investments into private companies. Kaleen also leads her family’s 5th Generation Council, which is dedicated to private impact investments.

Prior to joining 50 State, Kaleen worked for five years at Rockefeller Capital Management in the alternative investment and wealth management divisions. Her team built an open architecture menu of best-in-class alternative investment products, including hedge fund, private equity and real estate managers for high-net-worth individuals, families and foundations. She has a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and business from Gettysburg College.

Kaleen serves on the board of directors, as well as the investment committee and finance committee, of the Allyn Family Foundation. The foundation is committed to building a vibrant, equitable and prosperous community in Central New York. She also serves on the Rockefeller NextGen Advisory Council.

Kaleen is building an alternatives portfolio for her family, says her father, Eric Allyn, managing partner, CIO and trustee of 50 State. “Her work at Rockefeller was first-rate, and she is now opening doors for alternative investments for our family that are well beyond my expectations,” he says.

“I grew up in the small town of Skaneateles, N.Y., where, for five generations, my family owned and operated a successful medical device company, Welch Allyn,” Kaleen says. “I spent my formative years giving company tours with my great-grandfather, grandfather and father and working summers at the Welch Allyn production facility. The company formed the deepest roots of my identity.

“In September 2015, a myriad of factors created a stark realization for my family — selling our 100-year-old business to a larger company would be the best chance to ensure the long-term financial viability and employment of the workforce. The sale of Welch Allyn was pivotal in transitioning our family from business owners to a financial family.

“In the aftermath, my role within the multigenerational family expanded to include serving on the investment committees for our family trusts and foundation, leading ESG initiatives, and taking the first steps toward in-sourcing our investments with our private investment platform.”

CALEB JACKSON, 32
Third generation
Basic American Financial Inc., Indianapolis, Ind.

Caleb is a third-generation family member working in his family office. His responsibilities include evaluating direct alternative investments, evaluating performance of current and prospective liquid asset managers, and evaluating and modeling potential acquisitions in the family’s senior housing and care business units as well as new industries. Caleb serves on the board of directors for two of the family’s external portfolio companies.

Caleb is a Chartered Financial Analyst Charterholder and earned his bachelor of business administration degree from Baylor University with dual majors in finance and entrepreneurship. Prior to joining the family in 2021, Caleb spent nine years investing in high-yield credit at WhiteStar Asset Management and restructuring loans to distressed corporate borrowers at Merrill Lynch.

His outside work experience allowed him to bring an institutional perspective as to how the family’s alternative portfolio is constructed and managed. Additionally, his experience in underwriting leveraged buyouts has helped the family’s efforts in finding and financing additional operating companies.

“Leveraging his experience as an investment professional, Caleb works in alternative investments and corporate development in the family enterprise and is the first of his generation to do so,” says Mindy Kalinkowski Earley, chief learning officer at the Family Office Exchange (FOX). “His technical expertise, commitment to excellence, and forward-thinking mindset will propel him forward on his journey of becoming a family leader.

“Not only did Caleb make the important decision to invest in his own leadership development by participating in the FOX Rising Gen Leadership Program, he rallied other members of his generation to join him. Through that action, he demonstrated a keen awareness that the future of the family enterprise rests not only on his shoulders as the one working in the family office, but also on the engagement of his siblings and cousins. Rather than holding opportunities for himself, he is creating opportunity for his family members to learn together and collectively bring ideas and actions back to the family.”

“My passion is twofold,” Caleb says. “To ensure that the legacy that my grandfather and second generation have built lives on to Generation 4 and beyond; and to ensure that my generation desires to continue to work together and has fun doing it.

“After a year of working for the family office, I’ve seen the power there is in working together to leverage relationships, capital and common goals. As one of my uncles says, ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ ”

MEGAN DUDA DODD, 34
Fifth generation
A. Duda & Sons Inc., Oviedo, Fla.

Megan is a fifth-generation member of the Duda Family Council. A. Duda & Sons (DUDA) is a diversified land company engaged in a variety of agricultural and real estate operations.

Megan was a corporate communications professional before taking a break from the workforce to raise her two children. As a communications consultant, she developed and implemented public affairs, strategic communications, media relations, crisis communications and community involvement activities for corporate, government and non-profit clients.

This experience has been instrumental in her work on the family council, where she has served alongside a cross-functional team from the council, DUDA board of directors and DUDA management to produce an annual “Key Metrics Report.” Aimed at synthesizing and contextualizing the business’s annual financial information, the report is a critical tool to support steward ownership.

Megan currently serves as the council’s treasurer and as a project leader working to update the family’s “Collective Voice” document, a formalized means for business-owning family members to articulate their shared values, needs and expectations to the board. 

Megan received her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida and her master’s degree in public administration from Florida State University. In addition to her work on the council, Megan serves on the board of directors of the John & Katherine Duda Foundation.

“Megan is a powerhouse fifth gen who is helping to reshape the future of the Duda Family Council,” says Stacy Mello, who serves as family council chair and is senior director of ranches and resource management at DUDA.

“In her first year on the council, her innovative and creative approaches as the council communications chair helped to engage and inform more family members on our family platform. She is currently serving in a role that is helping to bring the reporting of ‘Key Metrics’ to life, especially for those Gen 4 and 5 family members who want to be good steward owners but may not have the business acumen to understand all the financials and metrics typically shared.

“The inaugural ‘Key Metrics Report’ is an exciting culmination of intense collaborative work that can be replicated through the years as a way to develop steward owners and help them understand how their business is performing.”

Megan’s work to update the “Collective Voice” document involves “soliciting input from family members and shareholders on important subjects needing consensus to develop collective expectation statements reflective of the family and owners,” Mello says. “This document is an important component of steward ownership.”

“I am extremely proud of the incredible legacy of the Duda family,” Megan says. “God has blessed us richly, and I am delighted at the opportunity to further and strengthen Duda’s impact through the family council and the John & Katherine Duda Foundation. A tremendous amount of love and foresight has gone into shaping these organizations into what they are today, and I look forward to building on these efforts to ensure a thriving family, business and foundation for generations to come.“

ADAM REDLINGER, 31
Third generation
Redlinger Bros. Plumbing & Heating Co., Watertown, S.D.

Adam is vice president of Redlinger Bros. Plumbing and Heating Co, a commercial mechanical and plumbing contractor in the upper Midwest. Adam’s grandfather and great-uncle reopened their father’s plumbing business after World War II.

Adam graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2012 with a bachelor of science degree in business management. He started as a project manager and an estimator after graduating, working out of the corporate office in Watertown, S.D., and managing commercial projects.

During Adam’s middle school years, he spent summers in Watertown as the shop manager’s assistant, helping with tool upkeep and inventory management and running parts for the construction crews. While attending high school, Adam spent summers working in the field for the commercial construction crews in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Now entering his 10th year, Adam covers estimating, project management and day-to-day operations of the company. He is planning with the second generation to transition roles and leadership as his father retires. Adam also manages the real estate with his brothers in their various commercial properties. Adam holds a masters license in Minnesota and Iowa, along with a contractor license in South Dakota.

“Adam is a very hard worker and very passionate about what he does,” says Stephanie Larscheid, executive director of the Prairie Family Business Association. “He knows when to stay strong when the going gets tough. He is committed to continue the family business and has the vision needed to continue developing the business through opportunities and humility.”

“I still don’t know how Adam was able to convert all our field employees from the paper world to digital,” says Adam’s father, Jim Redlinger, president of the company. “Everything we did was paper — plans, specifications, shop drawings, subcontracts. Now all our foremen have tablets, and everything is a click away.”

“I grew up working under some great leaders who taught me the industry I love and live in today,” Adam says. “The knowledge gained from spending time in the field is something a classroom or book will never replicate. Our biggest strength at Redlinger Bros. is not being a family business but treating everyone here as family. That mentality has cemented our reputation with customers for close to 80 years. I am fortunate enough to get to be a part of the team that helps shape the next 30 years.”   

SANAM AMIDI. 30
Third generation
Plug and Play Tech Center, Sunnyvale, Calif.

Sanam is the director of commercial operations at Plug and Play Tech Center (PNPTC), an early-stage investor, accelerator and corporate innovation platform. She oversees multiple global teams, including marketing, commercial operations and systems.

After graduating from the University of British Columbia in 2014 with a bachelor of management degree in entrepreneurship/entrepreneurial studies, she joined Disney Interactive and a handful of venture-backed startups before entering her family business in 2020. Throughout her career, she has focused on learning skills to meet the needs of the family business.

Her family started and manages a variety of businesses, including real estate, water distribution, plastics, and venture capital. She is one of seven cousins in the third generation. Her focus is on growing PNPTC with her brother and sister while reporting to her father, who serves as CEO.

Together with her second- and third-generation family members, she’s working on forming a family constitution and a set of qualifications to continue scaling the family business for generations to come.

“She joined the family business and became involved in a stage of rapid growth, building out a full automation team, streamlining processes and rising to an earned level of leadership in the company,” says Tracey Laden, executive assistant to CEO Saeed Amidi.

“She is data-driven and complements her sales-driven father and CEO, creating a powerhouse in the management team. Yet, she maintains her human touch and delicate dealings with employees and does not allow her name and position in the family business dictate how she operates day-to-day.”

“She came into Plug and Play determined to make a difference,” says PNPTC marketing director Allison Romero. “The family business had grown quickly without many stable and substantial processes, and she came in with both gumption and grace to help out. She created her own department and grew a team, now called Automation, with the goal to increase efficiencies and make long-term improvements to overall business practices.”

“Since joining the family business, I’ve dedicated countless hours to helping the company grow, but not a single day has felt like work,” Sanam says. “It is amazing being able to have this deep foundation of trust with my family members while sharing the same values. We all want to see the business thrive and help advance innovation across the world.

“I am deeply passionate about our role in the startup ecosystem, empowering entrepreneurs to build and scale cutting-edge products by connecting them to our network of corporations and resources. I’d love our 50-year journey to take us from about 40 locations to 400 locations and for the Plug and Play brand to become a household name. I really believe we will be the world’s largest and best network of entrepreneurs, investors and corporations.”

JEFFREY GREEN, 27
Fourth generation
Firstrust Bank and Verde Capital, Conshohocken, Pa.

After graduating from Tulane University in 2017, Jeffrey worked for Newmark-Knight Frank as a commercial real estate advisory analyst. In 2018, he returned to Philadelphia to work for his family business, Firstrust Bank, in a rotational role encompassing all facets of the family enterprise. In addition to participating in board meetings and credit policy and asset/liability committees, he spent his first year working in ­Firstrust’s operations division, spearheading its efforts to convert the bank’s new online banking platform.

He then transitioned to the Firstrust commercial lending team, where he helped lead the reorganization of the division, focusing on creating a consolidated credit delivery team and gaining efficiencies by standardizing underwriting, portfolio management and professional development processes, thereby providing relationship managers capacity for additional customer growth.

His last rotation was with the bank’s subsidiary Hatch Bank, a fintech sponsor bank, in relationship management, business development and credit analyst roles. While at Hatch, Jeffrey immersed himself in the emerging fintech ecosystem, considering the disruption this presents for Firstrust Bank as well as the opportunity. Jeffrey is now at The Wharton School pursuing his MBA and, while there, strategically focused on how best to integrate corporate venture capital into his family’s enterprise.

Caleb White, a principal and family enterprise market leader at CFAR, a consulting firm, notes that the firm began working with Jeffrey and his father, Richard Green, shortly after Jeffrey joined the bank and started a rotational program through different bank areas.

“While dedicating himself to learning all areas of Firstrust’s operations, Jeffrey took time to thoughtfully weigh whether graduate school made sense for a next step. Once he decided to go to Wharton, he worked with Firstrust’s president, Tim Abell, to focus his last bank rotation on the emerging fintech ecosystem by working at Firstrust’s fintech-focused sponsor bank, Hatch Bank.

“Jeffrey knew that an area of focus for him once at Wharton would be on studying the fintech ecosystem. Jeffrey also recognized that certain fintech investments would be a natural area of interest for the family office’s investment arm.

“Jeffrey cares deeply about perpetuating the family enterprise into the fourth generation and beyond. He realizes that in time, his business and investment acumen will be required in order to build upon the wonderful foundation created by his father and grandfather.”

“At Firstrust, our mission is to cultivate prosperity for our customers, employees and the communities we serve,” Jeffrey says. “As a fourth-generation Green family member at Firstrust, I have the honor and privilege to further this mission every day. The ability to work with my father and my family, give back to the community, strengthen relationships with our employees, and build the future of banking is what excites me the most about our business.   

“My father has always told me, ‘Follow a successful businessperson and try to do a little bit better.’ This phrase embodies my passion for Firstrust. I have the opportunity to follow and learn from the best business men and women I’ve ever met and continue to support and lead a business that my great-grandfather started nearly 90 years ago.”

CELINE FITZGERALD, 35
Third generation
Webb & O'Neill Capital Corp., Chicago, Ill.

In 1959, Celine’s grandfather acquired a small community bank in the outlying suburbs of Chicago. “By 1993 the company had grown considerably and was listed on Nasdaq. An unsolicited proposal from a large Canadian bank resulted in a merger. Our shareholders received stock, and within a month the buyer listed on the New York Stock Exchange,” says Celine’s father, Gerald F. Fitzgerald Jr., one of the second-generation siblings who worked in the family business.

Gerald’s generation consisted of four sons and a daughter. Each of the five families maintains its own office. “We have co-invested with each other on various bank deals and co-manage a residual pool of liquid assets from my parents’ estate,” Gerald says.

In 1997, Gerald acquired a bank. He serves as chairman of the bank, which is managed by non-family members.

“Celine has been taking banking courses and attending meetings with me,” Gerald says. “She will be joining both the bank and holding company boards later this year.”

“I was born a member of G3 but was unfamiliar with the term until I was 31 years old,” Celine says.

Celine earned her bachelor of science degree in business administration from Fordham University in Bronx, N.Y. She attended graduate school at SDA Bocconi in Milan, Italy, where she earned a master’s degree in fashion, experience and design management. After graduating from SDA Bocconi, she moved back to New York City to be a junior analyst for a luxury jewelry company.

In 2017, Celine entered the MBA program at Loyola University Chicago at her father’s urging. “Within a month I met Anne Smart, director of the Loyola Family Business Center. Had this been my dad’s plan all along?

“Within two weeks I was signed on to intern for Anne and run the Illinois Family Business of the Year awards (2018). Over the course of the internship, I met families, listened to generational stories and sat in on family business seminars. It was not until this moment that I appreciated succession planning, NextGen education, estate planning or governance. I began to understand the terms and use them in my daily life.” Instead of graduating in a year, Celine stayed on for another semester to take an independent study with Andrew Keyt at Loyola.

After her studies at Loyola, Celine helped organize her family office and chartered the family foundation.

“Since beginning the single-family office, I have learned Rome was not built in a day,” Celine says. “Even though we opened our doors in 2019, I am still learning and still developing best practices for our family unit.” She is active in The Forge Community, which serves more than 900 family offices.

Celine says she’s “dabbled” in the investment side of the office and has sourced a few deals. But, she adds, “I truly thrive with philanthropy.” In addition to launching the family foundation, she’s taken over the family’s donor-advised fund.

“I have put parameters into place where giving is concerned and feel we are finally set up for success in the future. Each day I think about how we are impacting local organizations and where our dollars are needed most. This gives me great pleasure. and I am excited to continue giving money away!”

ALEXANDRA JUSTIS, 34
Fifth generation
Doyle Security Systems Inc., Rochester, N.Y.

Alexandra is the director of marketing & engagement at Doyle Security Systems, which provides integrated security management products and services. She represents the fifth generation of family involvement in Doyle Security along with her brothers, Jack and Eric. They work alongside their father, John, the CEO and president.

Alexandra brings more than 13 years of marketing experience to the leadership team at Doyle, a company that never had a full-time marketing leadership role until 2021, after several years of swift company growth via large and small acquisitions.

Alexandra holds a bachelor of arts degree from the School of Arts & Sciences at Syracuse University. Before joining Doyle Security, she lived and worked in Washington, D.C., for 10 years. She spent three years with Children’s National Health System, where she grew the social media following, engagement and reach by more than 500%, 95% and 100% respectively. Before Children’s, she spent six years with Macerich, where she helped manage the marketing and events for Tysons Corner Center, a ­
3.8 million-square-foot super-regional shopping center and mixed-used community.

“Already in her first three years at the company, Alexandra has shown an immense passion for marketing and worked hard to illustrate the value in developing the company’s first dedicated marketing and employee engagement department, which she now leads,” says her sister, Chloe Doyle. “She has continuously pushed boundaries and questioned the status quo in an effort to evolve the company in an ever-changing industry landscape.”

“I didn’t grow up planning to join the family business, like my brothers did,” Alexandra says. “After an amazing 10 years living and working in Washington, D.C., I was excited to move back home to Rochester, N.Y., to be close to my family and give birth to my daughter. My next career move after that was a question mark. I asked my dad if I could do some marketing work for him at Doyle a few days a week before figuring out what was next for me professionally. What I didn’t expect to happen was that I absolutely loved the time I spent working at Doyle.

“I remember walking into my dad’s office to tell him I was interested in a full-time position and feeling so nervous because I had spent so many years saying it wasn’t something I saw myself doing. He was incredibly understanding, supportive and loving, as he always is.

“I give all the credit to my dad in creating an amazing and unmatched family legacy at Doyle. For as long as I can remember, my dad has hosted family meetings at least once a year to talk to us about the business and teach us what we do, why we do it, and what it means for our family and our community. We work with an incredible family business consultant, Lisë Stewart, on family governance, have written a family constitution and take yearly family business retreats to discuss important topics like conflict resolution and succession planning.

“The biggest thing my dad has taught me is the importance of family harmony. Our goal is to keep our family strong and our business strong. I’m excited to keep the Doyle legacy going and lucky to work with my family, who are truly my best friends, and our amazing One Doyle Team every day.”

JENN BARLUND, 32
Third generation
Falcon Plastics, Brookings, S.D.

Jenn graduated from South Dakota State University with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and minors in marketing, business and economics. She joined her family business — Falcon Plastics, a mid- to high-volume custom plastic molder — as a machine operator and moved into numerous different roles with the company before becoming a production manager in the Lexington, Tenn., facility in 2017. A year later, she was named plant manager of the Brookings, S.D., facility. She assumed her current position as president in April 2021. She serves on the board of directors for the Manufacturers Association of Plastics Processors (MAPP).

“She is ambitious and determined to carry on the family business through the third generation and beyond,” says Stephanie Larscheid, executive director of the Prairie Family Business Association.

“Jenn is known for knowing the names of everyone on the manufacturing floor and for knowing details about their families,” Larscheid says. “Her genuine leadership shows through in her interactions with employees.”

“I spent my childhood growing up in the world of injection molding,” Jenn says. “Those memories have instilled in me a passion for plastics. I am very fortunate that Don Bender, my grandfather and founder of Falcon Plastics, believed in the importance of women in business. He encouraged my involvement in the business and believed in my ability to become a great leader.

“Don inspired my passion for our people through his actions with our team members. He has made a significant impact on the leadership style I have today. I believe his leadership style is what has helped me earn the respect I have been given from our team members and customers.

“Being third-generation leadership in my family business fills me with a great pride and presents a set of challenges and responsibilities that help drive me forward. I am so grateful for the opportunity to carry Don’s legacy on, and to continue to grow our Falcon family.”

GENNA ZIMMER, 29
Third generation
REEDS Jewelers, Wilmington, N.C.

Genna completed her bachelor of science in business administration degree at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. After college, Genna began a career in corporate finance, but she quickly felt REEDS Jewelers calling her home. The company operates more than 60 brick-and-mortar stores and an online business.

In 2015, she completed a project management certification through Duke University and then rejoined the REEDS Jewelers team as a project manager for its ecommerce and IT initiatives. In 2020, Genna completed her MBA at The Wharton School.

Genna is currently director of strategy and operations at Reeds. She is responsible for home office operations and ensuring that REEDS is headed in the right strategic direction to thrive.

“Genna truly loves the work she does, and it is obvious to anyone with whom she interacts,” says Lauren Willets, assistant director of student and alumni engagement at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Family Enterprise Center.

“Genna is innovative,” Willets says. “She recently spoke to an MBA@UNC class about leveraging technology. The class was focused on entrepreneurship, and Genna shared proudly about a new technology REEDS, a 76-year-old company, implemented to make the virtual customer service experience during the pandemic model the in-store experience customers had experienced at REEDS for decades.

“Genna is passionate about carrying on her family’s legacy. She fondly recalls stories her grandfather shared, or that she has gotten to see firsthand working in the business. She is continuing to help customers celebrate the big and small moments in their lives. She is an amazing leader, and REEDS is where there are today because of her focus on strategy and operations.”

“It sounds cheesy, but my main mission in life is to see my family’s business thrive,” Genna says. “While I have worked outside of my family’s business, there is no place I’d rather be than where I am right now — working for the largest family-owned jeweler in the United States.

“To others it may seem like I work a lot of hours, even if it’s just testing REEDS.com or responding to emails, but working at REEDS has never felt like just ‘work’ to me. I genuinely get excited every day to wake up and go to the office or visit one of our stores.

“REEDS is my purpose, and my colleagues are my family. I will work tirelessly to make sure that we are strategically positioned to succeed for another 76 years as a family-owned and operated business.”

SARAH FULTZ, 30
Third generation
Post Leasing & Sales Inc., Knoxville, Tenn.

Sarah attended Samford University, where she graduated in three years cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish and a minor in Latin American studies.

Post Leasing & Sales, founded by her grandfather, offers used fuel tanker trucks and custom builds. Knox Post Trailer Companies, a combination of the family’s ventures known as Knox Trailers and Post Trailer Repairs, offers parts, repairs and custom work in the tank, truck and trailer industries.

While she had always been interested in her grandfather’s businesses, Sarah was encouraged to find her own path. However, her dad, Steve, inherited the businesses and hired Sarah to work remotely.

Sarah’s first role in the business included work in online and print marketing, advertising, customer service and website development. She moved back home to Knoxville and was able to take an even larger role in the company.

A few years later, Sarah had the opportunity to take on key roles in the other two companies as well. Today, she is a key decision maker in all three family businesses. Working as the office manager across the companies, Sarah oversees accounting, human resources, marketing, administration and IT. Under her management, the companies have benefited from new shop software, upgraded technology and critical reporting, which have all contributed to increased revenue and profitability margins.

“Sarah has always been a very driven, goal-oriented person,” Steve Fultz says. “I admit that I’m biased, but I’ve observed exponential personal and professional growth the past few years. Other people in our companies have noticed her contribution as well. She has built a strong team of qualified leaders. She works very well with vendors, customers and employees.

“She’s very much even keel in most all situations. Her calm demeanor and strong listening skills help her negotiate contracts with vendors as well as national customer accounts. Her desire to learn and grow will help her continual development as a business leader.”

“Growing up, I always admired my grandfather’s tireless work ethic and generosity for anyone and everyone he came across,” Sarah says. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘I can’t wait until I can help him with this.’

“When my dad started working with my grandfather and then later inherited the businesses, I wanted to become involved even more. I took notes as my dad scaled the companies using his passions for technology, digital marketing and cultivating personal relationships.

“Once I stepped into the companies, I realized that my grandfather and dad had instilled in me a deep sense of pride and responsibility to maintain and grow what they had begun.

“As I’ve fostered relationships with management and employees across our companies, I am excitedly determined to create and facilitate systems that promote efficiency and profitability for our employees, customers and vendors.”

VIRGINIA DELLIZZOTTI, 33
Third generation
Molinas San Jose S.A., Entre Rios, Argentina

Virginia serves as the chief strategy officer and as a member of the board of directors of Molinos San José, a food company specializing in milling wheat flour and manufacturing dried pasta. She has worked for the company since she was an undergraduate. She has been part of every division in the company, starting with the basics and working her way up to the executive offices.

As the third generation running the business, she is responsible for managing the firm’s finances, accounting and procurement, as well as leading strategic initiatives like developing new businesses and managing the company portfolio expansion.

While working in the family business, she majored in accounting and later started a finance master degree, studying abroad both in Italy and Germany. In 2018 she graduated with an MBA from Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business.

“Virginia has had her focus on returning to the family business since she was a student at Cornell,” says Dann Van Der Vliet, John and Dyan Smith Executive Director of Family Business at Cornell.

Virginia recently became a mother. “She now balances being a mother with her current role as chief strategy officer,” Van Der Vliet says. “She remained engaged with the Smith Family Business Initiative, attending conferences and virtual events, even from afar in Argentina.

“In her family’s business, she has taken an active role in shaping what the business will eventually look like. She is a strong woman, balancing both work and family, and family business.”

“My passion for my family business is driven by two main pillars,” Virginia says. “First, my deep admiration and respect for the legacy I inherited from my parents, who developed the company together based on their own effort and hard work. They taught me how crucial being on the factory floor and getting to know the business from within is. I learned the importance of developing versatility and preparedness to deal with different kinds of problems, especially in Argentina, where the game rules change every day.

“The second factor that spurs my passion is the challenge of keeping this legacy alive. We have endeavored to achieve a smooth generational transition. Based on trust, our opinions are heard and decisions supported. Unlike other family businesses, we have succeeded in creating an equilibrium between experience and innovation to pave the way for an efficient and progressive succession.”  

 

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