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Vol 37  No 14
May 19, 2005


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Family firms will benefit from new centre

By Aimee Sheppard

Dan Mosher

In Newfoundland and Labrador, more than 80 per cent of businesses are family-owned firms. Dan Mosher, the associate director of family business initiatives in the P.J. Gardiner Institute (PJG), is hoping to bring this group of entrepreneurs together and provide a resource to address their specific needs.

Mr. Mosher and the PJG are preparing to launch a Business Families Centre within the Faculty of Business Administration. The centre will be the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada and will focus on research, training, and curricula development.

“The purpose is to provide access to training, materials and experts so family firms can improve the operation of their businesses and be successful through many generations,” he said. He is quick to add that family business is not just a business issue. “We’d like to work with disciplines like anthropology, history, psychology, sociology, and economics to better understand the situations family firms face.

“Families are in business to provide for the family; you can’t really make decisions about the business without considering the impact on the family and vice versa.”

By bringing together academics and practitioners from several disciplines, and family members, Mr. Mosher believes the centre will be able to assist family businesses and service professionals like lawyers, accountants, and financial planners better understand the nuances of how the family and business intersects.

Too often the dinner table becomes the boardroom table and finding a way to help family firms make the distinction is imperative as the family influence on business will have a significant impact on the provincial and national economies. According to a recent CIBC report, in the next 10 to 15 years about a trillion dollars will change hands in Canada as firms transfer ownership.

“Many of these firms have no succession plans and in many cases the success of these businesses depends on the skills of the family members.”

The centre will be located in St. John’s but will also work with the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise (CAFÉ) to establish member groups across the province. “We will launch the centre on our St. John’s campus, but we intend to make our programs available across the province.”

The centre’s research is already uncovering specific needs to be addressed. “In one study we conducted, a participant asked ‘how do young educated family members, who are trying to improve the company, tell their relatives they’re not doing a good job and still go to family dinners on Sunday?’ Where do you go to discuss that?”

The Business Families Centre will be officially launched on June 15.

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