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Featured Family Business Speakers

James D. “Jamey” Power IV
James D. “Jamey” Power IV

Managing Director, Power Family Enterprises

Peter Latta
Peter Latta

Chairman & CEO, A. Duie Pyle

Paula Marshall
Paula Marshall

Chief Executive Officer, Bama Companies

Jack Ouellette
Jack Ouellette

Chairman, American Textile Company

Kelly Conklin
Kelly Conklin

President, Gordon's Window Decor

Jim Ethier
Jim Ethier

Chairman of the Board, Bush Brothers & Company

Philip A. Clemens
Philip A. Clemens

Retiring Chairman and CEO, The Clemens Family Corporation

The conference for family businesses by family businesses

Transitions West 2015 will focus on the theme of "The art of family business succession and governance," with sessions on:

    * Effective Cross-Generational Communications Strategies
    * The Handoff:  Detailed Succession Plans and Results
    * Succession and Non-Family Leadership
    * Effective Family Employment Policies
    * The Role of Effective Governance in Succession

Plus, special Next Generation Sessions
(For NextGen attendees ages 15-29)

    * Panel Discussion: Building Your Credibility in the Family Business
    * Breakout Discussions
    * Next Generation "Mixer"

This conference is for family companies and enterprises of all sizes and ages.  

Special Bonus:  To extend and enhance conference learning, all attendees will receive a free one year's subscription to Family Business Magazine (or a one-year extension to their current subscription).  Subscription includes access to Family Business' online archive of more than 700 articles, organized by topic.

We continually strive to enhance your conference experience:

  • Special interest group meetings for those who would like to meet to discuss issues related facing family councils, family offices, the NextGen, non-family executives and the senior generation with like-minded attendees.
  • Smaller group sessions to facilitate discussion.
  • Topic-based focus sessions to allow you and your family members to drill down more deeply into areas of specific interest or need.
  • Some families bring family members who do not attend the conference itself. We've created the opportunity for these families to schedule a working family meeting prior to and after the conference, with a professional facilitator. (Limited space available, please contact Justine Wood at 703-850-5497 for details). Please note: our hotel room block allows families to book rooms before and after the conference, at our group rate, to extend the duration and value of your visit.
  • Family Business Basics--a pre-conference session focused on key family business terms and ideas, and on how to get the most out of the conference itself.

Transitions features:

  • Speakers from family companies: Our focus is on speakers from family enterprises, sharing real-life problems and solutions. 
  • Intimate, open environment: Limited attendance, and a private "safe harbor" environment in which to openly share challenges and opportunities with other families. 
  • Collaborative discussions: Opportunities to work through family issues via guided discussions. 
  • No-Sell Environment:  Conference sponsors understand and commit to participating as thought leaders and experts, and are restricted from actively selling their products and services.
  • Special content and sessions for next-generation and married-in family members
  • Networking with families like yours: Hosted networking, opening reception, meals, breaks and workshops are all designed to allow you to meet many family enterprise attendees.
  • Family focus: Brought to you by family-owned Family Business Magazine, we use family-owned or controlled hotels, transportation services, restaurants and service providers whenever possible.  We believe in, and invest in, America's family businesses.
  • Hosted family meetings:  For attending families who want to meet before and after the conference, professionally facilitated. Limited availability.

Featured Family Business Speakers

Ken Gorman
Ken Gorman

Vice President and Shareholder, Power Construction Company

Chris Harrison
Chris Harrison

Director of Operations, Irvine Marriott

Mark Contreras
Mark Contreras

Chief Executive Officer, Calkins Media Inc.

Shayne Wittwer
Shayne Wittwer

Board Member, Wittwer, Inc., CEO, Abbey Inn Hotels

Darcy A. Howe
Darcy A. Howe

Advisory Board Member, Bama Companies; Director, Heatron

Kyle Fernley
Kyle Fernley

Director of Premier Meetings by Fernley, Fernley and Fernley

Lauren Tracy
Lauren Tracy

Business Development Manager, Dot Foods, Inc.


Wednesday November 4

3:30-4:30 pm Family Business Basics

Speaker:  Sylvia Shepard, Chair, Smith Family Council, Menasha Corporation

Opening Session

5:00-6:15 pm Effective Cross-Generational Communication Strategies
What can the older and younger generations do to bridge the generational divide and really communicate?   Each generation has different styles and standards of communication, and often, this can be a barrier to effectively finding common ground and agreement. What is the most productive way to overcome differences in communication styles, such as a preference for making a phone call vs. sending a text? How can each generation adapt to the styles of other generations?

Speakers:  Kelly Conklin, President, Gordon's Window Decor; Lauren Tracy, Business Development Manager, Dot Foods, Inc.; Charles R. Kelley, M.D., Chairman of the Board, Outrigger Enterprises Group

6:15-6:45 pm

Opening Keynote Address

James D. "Jamey" Power IV  "The J.D. Power Family Governance System"

6:45-9 pm Welcome Reception and Dinner

Thursday November 5

7:30-8:30 am  Breakfast

8:30-9:45 am The Handoff:  Detailed Succession Plans and Results
A well-planned succession is a process, not a single event. Panelists will offer a detailed look at their leadership transitions, focusing on the years before and the time after family business leaders passed on the reins to the business. What proceeded as planned, and what unexpected circumstances arose? Both “smooth” transitions and “crisis” transitions will be examined for lessons learned.

Speakers:  Philip A. Clemens, retiring Chairman and CEO, The Clemens Family Corporation; Jim Ethier, retiring Chairman, Bush Bros. and Company

9:45-10:15 am  Networking Break

10:15-11:30 am Succession and Non-Family Leadership
There are a variety of reasons why a non-family member may be the best choice to lead a family business, for either the short- or long-term. Panelists will discuss the circumstances surrounding the ascent of a non-family CEO, why a non-family member was chosen, how family buy-in was achieved and the recruitment and onboarding processes.  Ultimately, the panel will examine whether the decision to go outside the family for leadership was effective, and what that decision’s impact was on the family and the business.

Speakers:  Jack Ouellette, Chairman, American Textile Company; Ken Gorman, Vice President and Shareholder, Power Construction Company; Mark Contreras, CEO, Calkins Media Inc.

11:30-12:30 pm  Focus Sessions

12:30-1:30 pm  Lunch

1:30-2:00 pm Networking Break

2-3:15 pm Effective Family Employment Policies
One of the biggest questions a family business faces is employment of family members.  Who can join the company?  How much should they be paid?  Should they earn perks not available to other employees or family members not employed in the business?  Who judges their performance? Panelists will discuss their policies on family employment, and their effect on the tone and culture of the family and the family business.

Speakers:  Peter Latta, Chairman & CEO, A. Duie Pyle; Chris Harrison, Director of Hotel Operations, Irvine Marriott;  Shayne Wittwer, Board Member, Wittwer Inc.

3:15-3:30 pm Networking Break

3:30-4:30 pm Optional Sessions

3:30-4:30 pm Special Next Generation Session:   Building Your Credibility in the Family Business
Next Generation family business members will discuss the steps they took to build their knowledge of the family business, and their credibility with older family members and non-family employees.

Speaker:  Kyle Fernley, Director of Premier Meetings by Fernley, Fernley and Fernley

4:30-5:30 pm  Wine Tasting and Networking

6-9 pm Group Dinner at a Family-Owned Restaurant

Friday November 6

7:30-8:30 am  Breakfast

8:30-9:15 am Keynote Address

Paula Marshall, CEO, Bama Companies

9:15-9:30 am  Networking Break

9:30-10:30 am  Focus Sessions

10:30-10:45 am Networking Break

10:45-12 noon The Role of Effective Governance in Succession
Governance structures such as a family council, family assembly, family constitution and board of directors with independent members can go a long way toward smoothing the road to generational transition. Panelists will discuss how their family and business  governance aids in training and developing the family’s future shareholders and leaders.

Speaker:  Darcy A. Howe, Advisory Board Member, Bama Companies; Director, Heatron

12-12:15 pm  Conference Takeaways

Speaker:  Robert H. Rock, President and CEO, MLR Holdings LLC

12:15-1:1 5pm Lunch

Confirmed Speakers

James D. “Jamey” Power IV

James D. “Jamey” Power IV

Managing Director, Power Family Enterprises

Jamey Power is a former Senior Vice President and Strategic Advisor at J.D. Power and Associates. He left the firm in 2009. Today, he works on a number of new business activities, public speeches, and philanthropic interests for the Power family. He recently assisted his father on a new book that chronicles Dave’s 50 years in the automobile business entitled Power: How J.D. Power III Became the Auto Industry’s Adviser, Confessor, and Eyewitness to History (Fenwick Publishing, late 2013). Jamey is exploring work on a follow-up to SATISFACTION: How Every Great Company Listens to the Voice of the Customer, a best-selling book he co-authored in 2006. In addition, he advises selected organizations globally on quality, customer service, and marketing.

As the son of J.D. “Dave” Power III, founder of J.D. Power and Associates, Jamey literally grew up with the business. He, like the other children in the Power family, worked at the company in a variety of jobs throughout his early school years and into college. After college he worked both for a major advertising agency and then for General Motors. He joined J.D. Power and Associates in 1990.  Ultimately he became Senior Vice President for the firm’s International Division.

Today, Jamey manages several of the Power family’s community and philanthropic activities, which focus on education and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He also serves on the Board of Trustees at the University of San Diego from where he earned his BA degree in History in 1985.

Jamey and his family live in Westlake Village, CA. 

Peter Latta

Peter Latta

Chairman & CEO, A. Duie Pyle

Since joining A. Duie Pyle as Vice President in 1985, Peter Latta has held a number of leadership positions, currently serving  as Chairman & CEO.  Over the past 30 years, he has been part of a management team that has guided the company’s growth from a Southeastern Pennsylvania Less-Than-Truckload Common Carrier with annual revenue of $11 million to the Northeast’s leading asset-based supply chain service provider with 2014 revenues exceeding $300 million.  Today, Peter’s focus is on strategic planning, real estate matters, tax and financial planning, perpetuating the company culture, business continuity and succession planning.  He also works to ensure that A. Duie Pyle remains a privately owned family business by establishing the foundation for a successful transition to the next generation of ownership.

Peter currently serves on the Board of Advisors of a family owned regional automotive dealership business.

Prior to his position with A. Duie Pyle, Peter practiced law with McNees, Wallace & Nurick in Harrisburg, PA, and worked as a CPA for Greenawalt & Company and Asher & Asher.  He holds a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Delaware, and earned his law degree from the Dickinson School of Law. 

Peter and his wife Robin have four children and three grandchildren. Interests outside of work include tending to his vegetable garden & fruit trees, raising beef cattle and pigs, and hunting wild pheasants and ruffed grouse with his German Shorthair Pointers.

Paula Marshall

Paula Marshall

Chief Executive Officer, Bama Companies

As Bama’s Chief Executive Officer, Paula Marshall provides strategic leadership and direction to the entire organization. Her vision stands as a beacon for Bama team members, inspiring the organization to achieve the Bama mission – “People Helping People Be Successful”.

Paula assumed responsibility as CEO of the Bama Companies in 1984, which now includes Bama Pie, Bama Foods, Bama Frozen Dough, Beijing Bama and Bama Europa. Under her leadership Bama has expanded to provide a wide variety of frozen desserts and baked goods to fast food chains and casual and family dining restaurants.

Paula received her Bachelor of Science in business from Oklahoma City University (OCU) in 1982, and her PhD in commercial science, also from OCU, in 1993.

Paula is the author of four books, the most recent was co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Jim Stovall. The Executive Entrepreneur is an important conversation starter about how all business people must embrace both entrepreneurship and management to succeed. 

Bama Companies was founded in the 1920s as the Bama Pie Company by Cornelia Alabama Marshall and her husband Frank. Since the 1960s, Bama Companies have been an innovator of wholesome bakery products that cater to the needs of the largest and most well known restaurant chains on the planet. The company’s core product lines are hand-held pies, biscuits, buns, pie shells, and pizza crusts and it develops and maintain long-term partnerships with customers that include:

  • the #1 hamburger chain in the world
  • the #1 pizza chain in the world
  • the #1 Mexican food chain in America
  • the #1 retailer in the world
  • the #1 fried chicken chain in the world 

Jack Ouellette

Jack Ouellette

Chairman, American Textile Company

American Textile was founded in 1925 and has grown to become one of the largest utility bedding companies in the United States. American Textile manufactures and distributes bedding items to the retail market in the U.S. and Canada. The products include protective bed coverings for pillows and mattresses, bed pillows, mattress pads, comforters and sheets. American Textile has operations in Pittsburgh, PA (corporate headquarters), Tifton, GA, Dallas, TX, Salt Lake City, UT and San Salvador, El Salvador. It has sales offices in New York, NY and Bentonville, AR. The company has a product development and marketing office in Davidson, NC and a sourcing office in Shanghai, China. It has more than 400 employees worldwide. Jack Ouellette is the non-family Chairman and began his career at American Textile in 1976 as an assistant to the owner. He was appointed executive vice president in 1982 and became president in 1991. In 1996, he became chief executive officer. Jack was appointed Chairman in January 2013.

After graduating from the United Stated Military Academy at West Point, Jack served as an officer in the United States Army for nine years. As an officer, he completed Army Ranger School, served as a Company Commander in Germany and was a pilot in Vietnam where is was awarded the Bronze Star. He went on to teach military science and earn his MBA from Duquesne University.

Jack is currently involved with The Allegheny Conference. Over the years he has been involved in a number of community activities having served on the Board of The Boys & Girls Club, Shannopin Country Club, and Duquesne Business Advisory Council. He currently serves on the board of Sherpa, Henderson Brothers and American Apparel & Footwear Association. An avid golfer, Jack and his wife, Gigi, make their home in Pittsburgh, PA.

Ken Gorman

Ken Gorman

Vice President and Shareholder, Power Construction Company

Kenneth Gorman is a vice president and an owner of Power Construction Company and the chief executive officer of Power Wellness. Power Construction Company was founded in 1926 by Kenneth’s grandfather and is recognized today as one of the Midwest’s largest construction managers, with annual revenues exceeding $700 million. Kenneth founded Power Wellness in 1995, which focuses on the planning, development and management of wellness centers for hospitals and community colleges. Power Wellness now has 23 facilities nationwide and over 2,000 employees. Born and raised in the Chicago area, Kenneth attended North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka and graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in finance and real estate development in 1985. Kenneth is a member on the Wings Leadership Board and Good Shepherd Hospital Development Council. Kenneth has served on numerous professional and charitable boards, including the Illinois Facilities Fund, Roosevelt School of Real Estate and Harper College Foundation. Kenneth has been married for 25 years, has three children and lives in North Barrington, IL.

Chris Harrison

Chris Harrison

Director of Operations, Irvine Marriott

Chris Harrison is the great-grandson of J.W. Marriott Sr., and grew up in the hospitality industry.  He lived in a hotel for two years at the Hong Kong JW Marriott where his father was the GM. His life abroad in China, Belgium, and India has shaped his education and passion for global tourism.  Mr. Harrison attended BYU where he earned his BA in English to fulfill his childhood dream of Sports Journalism. He joined Rising Star Outreach, a Non-Profit in Chennai India, with a hope of solving leprosy and helping those affected with it in third world countries. In Chennai he helped establish a school and English curriculum for the children of the Leprosy Affected. He later earned his MBA at the Harvard Business School where he was President of the Hospitality and Tourism Industry Club.  Mr. Harrison completed internships at various hotels and brands acquiring deep hotel operations training experience.  Additionally, he completed a Corporate and Development Finance program with Marriott International Headquarters, served as Regional Sales Manager at Marriott’s San Diego Regional Sales Office, Assistant Front Office Manager at Boston Marriott Copley Place, and recently as the Director of Rooms at the Irvine Marriott.  A key leader in Marriott’s Emerging Leaders Program, he leads a small group of high potential MBAs in deploying innovative concepts within hotels across the world. Currently he acts as the Director of Hotel Operations at the Irvine Marriott Hotel where he has opened the model Great Room on the West coast and continually incubates Marriott Proof of Concept initiatives for the brand. His goal is to better understand how to attract and retain both Millennial guests and associates throughout Marriott. He lives in Ladera Ranch, CA with his wife Jessie, and two young children. 

Mark Contreras

Mark Contreras

Chief Executive Officer, Calkins Media Inc.

Calkins Media Incorporated, established in 1937, is a family-owned integrated publishing, broadcasting and digital media company with a commitment to digital innovation and providing high-quality local news and information to the communities it serves. Calkins Media brands today include daily newspapers and digital sites in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a weekly newspaper and digital site in South Dade, FL, and ABC television broadcast affiliates located in Huntsville, AL and Tallahassee and Sarasota, FL Corporate and digital headquarters are located in Bucks County, PA.

Mark Contreras has a long career in the local media industry. He has served as chief executive officer of Calkins Media Incorporated since 2011. Prior to Calkins, Contreras served as senior vice president/newspapers for The E.W. Scripps Company in Cincinnati, OH. He was also senior vice president of Pulitzer Inc. in St. Louis, MO; and worked for more than a decade with Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. in newspaper leadership roles in Pontiac, MI and Kansas City, MO. He served as president and publisher of The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, PA. 

Contreras served as chair of the Newspaper Association of America and the American Press Institute, and is a 1998 Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. He is a board member of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts in Washington. He holds an A.B. in history from the University of Chicago and a MBA from Harvard Business School.

Shayne Wittwer

Shayne Wittwer

Board Member, Wittwer, Inc., CEO, Abbey Inn Hotels

Shayne Wittwer began working in the family business at a very young age, picking up trash, sweeping parking lots and cleaning hotel rooms.  He is currently a member of their family business’s Board of Directors, Compensation and Continuity Committee, Business Growth Committee and is CEO of their hotel group, Abbey Inn Hotels.  His previous 19 years were spent managing the Best Western Plus Abbey Inn in beautiful St. George, Utah. When the Wittwer Family Council was created he served as Chairperson for the first three years and helped draft their original constitution. While primarily working in the tourism industry he has been very involved promoting the St. George and the Southwestern Utah Area and has chaired the St. George Area Travel Board and helped develop and is serving on the St. George Area Sports and Events Committee.  He is a Past-President of the St. George Lodging Association, currently serves as a Governor with Best Western and was recently appointed to serve on the Utah Office of Tourism Board.  His education includes a Business Management Degree with an emphasis in Marketing from Southern Utah University. 

Wittwer Inc. and Wittwer Management began in the 1920s when Lester and Vanola Wittwer started a fruit and vegetable business that included growing, harvesting and trucking. After a short stint in Las Vegas owning a small hotel during the 1950s, the family moved back to St. George, UT, where they built and operated a motel. With the help of their four sons they added hotels and purchased a furniture store. Today they own and operate several hotels in southwestern Utah and sell furniture, appliances and electronics from retail locations in Utah and Nevada. Each of the four brothers has six children, making 24 in the third generation, and the 4th generation is quickly growing. 

Kelly Conklin

Kelly Conklin

President, Gordon's Window Decor

Kelly Conklin is the second-generation president of Gordon's Widow Decor, founded by her father Gordon Clements in 1986. Kelly has been working in the family business since 2003, and assumed presidency in February of 2015. She is passionate about manufacturing, family business, and the role a business plays in its community. As the exclusive manufacturer of EcoSmart Insulating Window Shades, Gordon's Window Decor is a pioneer in developing high-quality window treatments that benefit both the customer and the environment. 

Kelly was recognized by Family Business Magazine in the "25 Under 35" edition and by Vermont Business Magazine as a "Rising Star." This year, Gordon's Window Decor was named "Vermont Family Business of the Year" by the Small Business Administration.  

Kelly is proud to call Vermont home and loves taking advantage of all it has to offer - from skiing to ice cream! 

Darcy A. Howe

Darcy A. Howe

Advisory Board Member, Bama Companies; Director, Heatron

Darcy A. Howe is an advisory board member of family-owned Bama Companies, and an independent director of privately-held Heatron.  She is a high performance executive and board director with extensive experience building an entrepreneurial business within a Fortune 100 company in the financial services industry. As the founding partner and co-development lead for an elite private banking and investment group, she brings 30 years of financial services experience with strategic planning skills, general business management expertise, and business advisory services. Her clients include entrepreneurs, family business owners, Fortune 500 executives and two Forbes 400 families. Darcy is an experienced board director, who brings a strategic perspective with financial discipline and risk assessment expertise to the boards, companies, and the families she serves.

As a Senior Vice President of Investments for Merrill Lynch, Darcy’s group also functions as the family office for many high net-worth clients. Her practice, The Howe/Hise/Lowry Group, founded by Darcy, delivers a full range of seamless services that include portfolio management, risk assessment, regulatory insight, governance oversight, multi-generational financial education, and business advisory services. Additionally, as a senior executive of Merrill Lynch, Darcy is responsibility for practice vision, development, growth, talent acquisition and management, and full P&L accountability. Her group is focused on creating a defined vision for her clients, intentional strategic planning, continuous education on options and opportunities, and a collaborative partnership with effective communications that serve her clients’ growth plans. As a result, she delivers clear business and financial decision-making processes that incorporate leadership succession.

Darcy founded her investment practice in 1984. She established her credentials by developing new business and operating models which helped define financial planning road maps that resulted in robust diversification and higher performance to those she serves. Her innovation, business expertise, and collaborative style led to her being selected in 2000, from 16,000 colleagues, to form the elite 300-advisor Private Banking and Investment Group at Merrill Lynch. From 2006-2008, Darcy was a member of the Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Advisory Council to Management. The Council was established in 2000, with the intention of forming a collaborative relationship with executive leadership in support of business imperatives, improvements to company platforms, and to drive innovation.

In 2012, Darcy received the Kansas City Business Journal “Women Who Mean Business” award. In 2009, Barron’s Magazine named Darcy “Top 100 Women Advisors in the U.S.” and, in 2007, Darcy was honored as Worth Magazine “Top 100 Wealth Advisors in the U.S.”

Darcy has brought her diverse experience and talents as an advisor to numerous boards and committees. Her value to these boards includes: strategic oversight on growth, expansion, consumer insights, alliances, process improvement, branding, and change initiatives. As a founding member of a women-led angel investing network, she helped the organization create a path for 72 women-led ventures to apply for angel funding, with 25 of those companies moving forward for investor presentations. To date, 6 companies have received funding.

As further evidence of Darcy’s diverse board experience, from 2010 to present, she has been serving on the Board of Directors and is a member of the Compensation and Audit Committees of Heatron, an engineering company specializing in custom heating and LED integration. In January 2013, Darcy was nominated to the Board of Advisors of The Bama Companies. An international foodservices company that manufactures and distributes bakery goods, Bama’s operations facilities are located in Tulsa, OK, Beijing and Guangzhou, China and in Poznan, Poland.

She launched her career with Armstrong World Industries in the New York City office as a representative for commercial accounts. Darcy’s tenure with Armstrong provided her with an invaluable foundation on production and distribution systems, brand building, marketing, and sales.

Kyle Fernley

Kyle Fernley

Director of Premier Meetings by Fernley, Fernley and Fernley

Kyle Fernley is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology. He currently serves as Executive Director for the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care and CFA Society of Philadelphia. He is the fifth generation of this family company who origins date back to 1886. 

Kyle also serves as Director of Premier Meetings by Fernley, a strategic partner of Fernley and Fernley where his responsibilities include hotel contract negotiation for conventions concerning groups over 300 guests.
Kyle is currently serving on the Mid Atlantic Society of Association Executives Board of Directors, Conference Committee and Marketing Task Force Committee. He served on an additional 3 MASAE committees in 2014 and was also a presenter at the 2014 MASAE Annual Conference.

Kyle is also an active volunteer in his community serving as a volunteer in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and is founder and member the Young Professionals Network for Education Works, which helps underprivileged students in the Philadelphia community.

Lauren Tracy

Lauren Tracy

Business Development Manager, Dot Foods, Inc.

Lauren Tracy is a third generation Tracy family member working for Dot Foods. While Lauren started working for the family business at the age of 14, her full-time career with Dot didn’t begin until 2007. Lauren has held her current position, business development manager, since 2009. Prior to that, she served Dot’s South region as a district sales manager. Of the 47 third generation family members, Lauren was the second born. She is the Tracy Family Foundation board treasurer, and she held a seat on the Tracy Family Council for numerous years. Lauren graduated from Illinois State University in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and received her MBA from the University of Colorado Denver in 2007.

Dot Foods, Inc., carries 105,000 products from 650 food industry manufacturers, making it the largest food industry redistributor in the United States. Through Dot Transportation, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Dot Foods, the company distributes foodservice, convenience, retail and vending products to distributors in all 50 states. Dot Foods operates nine distribution centers, which are located in Modesto, California; Vidalia, Georgia; Burley, Idaho; Mt. Sterling, Illinois; Cambridge City, Indiana; Williamsport, Maryland; Liverpool, New York; Ardmore, Oklahoma; and Dyersburg, Tennessee. 

Sylvia Shepard

Sylvia Shepard

Chair, Smith Family Council, Menasha Corporation

Sylvia Shepard is a fifth generation member of the Smith Family, which has owned Menasha Corporation (a Wisconsin-based manufacturing company) for 160 years. While serving on the Menasha Corporation Foundation board she was introduced to the idea of family governance. Over the past ten years Sylvia has been the driving force behind the development of family governance within the Smith Family, beginning with the founding of a family council seven years ago.

She is still active on the Smith Family council, presently serving as its chair. Sylvia recently completed her MBA from Babson where she studied family entrepreneurship with Tim Habbershon, and in October, was awarded her certification as a family business advisor from the Family Firm Institute.

Sylvia also holds a Masters in Psychiatric Occupational Therapy from Columbia University and a BA from Smith College. She spent 25 years in college textbook publishing as an editor at McGraw-Hill and then in a freelance capacity. She is the executive director of the Jane and Tad Shepard Family Foundation.

Jim Ethier

Jim Ethier

Chairman of the Board, Bush Brothers & Company

Jim Ethier is a third generation member of the Bush family. "BUSH'S BEST" is the nation's leading brand of bean products. Founded in 1908 by Andrew Jackson Bush, the company is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee and has production locations in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee and Augusta, Wisconsin.

Jim is Chairman of the Board of Bush Brothers & Company after having served as Chairman & CEO from 2003 to 2009, and President and COO from 1992 to 2003. Prior to that Jim served as CFO. He has been with the company for 42 years.

Jim has served the food industry as a Board member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Board member and Chairman of the Food Products Association. He received the Guard Society Honorary Life Member Award for 2000 which recognizes individuals for their years of service and their contribution to the food industry. In 2005 he received the Distinguished Leadership Award from the Food Products Association.

Jim currently serves on the board of the American Family Business Institute. He also serves as Board member for a number of businesses, educational and non-profit organizations.

Jim received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.

Jim and his wife, Melinda, live in Knoxville. He has three daughters, one son, and one grandson. In addition to civic activities, Jim enjoys golf and travel.

Philip A. Clemens

Philip A. Clemens

Retiring Chairman and CEO, The Clemens Family Corporation

Mr. Clemens has spent his entire working career with the family business. He began working in the legacy business, Hatfield Quality Meats, on a part time basis while going to school. He began his full-time career in 1967 while attending Peirce College. His career has allowed him to work in all areas of the business. He began on the clean-up crew and worked his way to be the CEO and President of the Company. He began both the Data Processing and Human Resource Departments. He spent 20 years of his career in Human Resources and 7 years as CEO and President of the legacy business.

In 2000 he became Chairman and CEO of The Clemens Family Corporation - a holding company. He currently serves as the CEO of all of the businesses in the Clemens Food Group: Hatfield Quality Meats, Country View Family Farms, PV Transportation, and CFC Logistics. He also serves as the CEO of Clemens Development which is the real estate arm of the Corporation with several holdings including Hatfield Pointe and Clemens Business Center.

Mr. Clemens received the American Meat Institute's Industry Advancement Award, the highest award given in the meat industry; The Edward C. Jones award for community service; the Knowlton Award for innovation in the meat industry; Pride of Peirce for outstand alumni of Peirce College; Pillar of the Community from Harleysville Senior Center; Philadelphia Area Sunday School Association's Superintendent of the Year; and the Research Institute of America for the outstanding management suggestion of the year.

Mr. Clemens is active in his community and other organizations. He serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Lancaster Bible College; former Chairman and member of the Executive Committee of the American Meat Institute; Board member and Compensation Chair of Delaware Valley Wholesale Floral Group, Sewell, N.J.; Barron Collier Partnership, Naples, FL.; Board member of Ambassador Foundation; Center for Ministry Advancement; Three Springs Ministries; and North Penn United Way.

Mr. Clemens has been married to Linda for 40 year and has 3 adult children - Julie who works in the family business; Beth, married to Paul College and serving as a missionary in Indonesia; and Ruth, married to Brett Harris and is a school teacher in North Carolina. He also has 5 grandsons. His hobbies are hunting and fishing.

Robert H. Rock

Robert H. Rock

President and CEO, MLR Holdings LLC

Bob Rock is president and CEO of MLR Holdings LLC, an investment company with holdings in publishing and information businesses, including the technology industry analyst firms The 451 Group and Tier1 Research and the Uptime Institute, a data center, consulting, research and education firm. MLR also owns and manages companies that publish journals, newspapers, online newsletters and databases, including Family Business and Directors & Boards. From 1989 to 2001, Dr. Rock was chairman and majority owner of Montgomery Newspapers, which published 17 weekly papers in the Philadelphia suburbs, including Main Line Life, The Ambler Gazette and The Times Chronicle, as well as a number of specialty publications, including Philadelphia Golfer, Parents Express, Art Matters, and Bucks County Town & Country Living, In June 2001, Montgomery Newspapers was sold to the Journal Register Company. From 1991 to 1995, Dr. Rock was also chairman and majority owner of IDD Enterprises, which published magazines and newsletters and provided online data for financial executives. IDD's publications included Mergers & Acquisitions, Investment Dealers' Digest and The LPO Reporter. Its databases included Tradeline and Gari Software. In 1994 IDD's M&A database was sold to Goldman, Sachs, and the remainder of the company was sold to Dow Jones & Company in 1995. Prior to joining MLR in 1998, Dr. Rock was the chairman and chief executive officer of the Hay Group, a management consulting firm with more than 90 offices in 27 countries specializing in compensation, benefits and human resources consulting. He received his B.A. (magna cum laude), MBA and DBA degrees from Harvard University. His book publications include The Chief Executive Officer (Heath 1977), Corporate Restructuring (McGraw-Hill 1991), and The Mergers & Acquisitions Handbook (McGraw-Hill 1993). Bob resides in Gladwyne, PA, with his wife, Caro, who is publisher of Family Business Magazine. They have two grown sons.

Charles R. Kelley, M.D.

Charles R. Kelley, M.D.

Chairman of the Board, Outrigger Enterprises Group

Charles Roy Kelley, M.D., MPH, MBA, is chairman of Outrigger Enterprises Group. Prior to joining the family enterprise, he was a physician in the Department of Occupational Medicine at Straub Hospital. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Preventive Medicine. In addition to his medical training, he earned an MBA from Chaminade University of Honolulu. He is a member of the WPO and serves on the boards of Friends of Waikiki Aquarium and Kahala Nui Senior Living.He is married to Jennifer Kelley, M.D., and they have two children. His interests include water sports, marine biology, tennis, gardening and woodcarving.

Hawaii-based Outrigger Enterprises Group is one of the fastest growing privately held hospitality companies in the Asia Pacific, Oceania and Indian Ocean regions. The company operates and/or had under development resorts in eight nations and is actively exploring management opportunities in regions worldwide. An entrepreneurial outlook and sound business practices have driven the successful growth of Outrigger Enterprises Group for over 67 years. Founders Roy and Estelle Kelley transformed leisure vacationing in Hawaii, and Roy Kelley has often been referred to as the “Father of Hawaii’s Modern Tourism.” Today, family-owned Outrigger Enterprises Group continues the legacy of its founders with a global vision for hospitality-based innovation, effective partnerships and a deep respect for culture, tradition and environmental sustainability.

The board currently consists of four family members and five independent members. Six family members work inside the business, including a third-generation family member CEO. 

About This Conference

Transitions West 2015 is sponsored by Family Business Magazine, and is the only conference created for family companies, by family companies.

Who Should Attend

Attendance at this conference is strictly limited to owners, shareholders, family members and in-laws of 75 family businesses/enterprises. The conference is designed to facilitate conversation on important family issues among generations. There is special programming for family business members aged 15-29, and for those who have married-in to the family business.

The Transitions conference is for family companies and family offices of all sizes. At our last conference, approximately one third of attendees represented companies with revenues of under $25 million, one third of attendees had revenues of between $26 million and $300 million; and one third had revenues of over $300 million. And approximately a third of attendees were in the third generation or less; a third were in generations 4 and 5; and third were part of companies more than 6 generations old. What all attendees share is a desire to see their family enterprise grow successfully through generational transitions.

68% of attendees at Transitions are coming to the conference for the first time; 98.5% of attendees at our last conference say they'll attend again, and that they'd recommend the conference to other family members.

NOTE: All attendees will be vetted to ensure that they are family company leaders, members or shareholders. This event is only for family-run companies or enterprises. Senior advisers to family companies may attend ONLY with the family company they represent.

For further information, contact conference director David Shaw at (301) 963-6162 or email


Registration fees do not include hotel or travel expenses. Due to the customization of the conference seating and session assignments, registrations need to be submitted at least one week prior to the start of the conference.  On-site registration is not available.

The dress code for the conference is business casual to business. Meeting room temperatures will vary, so please bring and wear the appropriate layers of clothing to ensure your personal comfort.

Propose a Topic or Speaker

Contact Peter Begalla, Conference and Education Director, (386) 785-7856 or email Please note that the conference extends a complimentary registration for conference speakers.  In addition, conference speakers are featured in Family Business and Directors & Boards magazines and websites.  Speakers are responsible for their own expenses, to include hotel, meals, and travel.  Proposals promoting company products or services will not be considered.

Advisers and Sponsors

If your company provides services to family businesses, please considering sponsoring the conference.  Access to Transitions conference attendees—by attending the conference, a tabletop exhibit and/or by participating as a moderator/panelist is only available to conference sponsors.   Alternatively, if you are an adviser to family businesses, you may register to attend the conference with a family member for a business you advise. Contact Scott Chase at (301) 879-1613, or email

Student Registration

Students who are interested in attending the conference should apply through the standard attendee registration process (submit a registration form for consideration).  Complimentary student registrations are not available.
Press passes are not available for this conference.

What Attendees Say About Transitions

"This is the most rewarding conference I've ever attended.  Everyone has been so candid, genuine and open,  Love that the tone is showing and not telling people what to do."

"I think this was the best run conference that I have ever attended.  So much value.  We will be back."

"Oftentimes I'm excited to go to a conference and then it's unmemorable.  This conference was well-planned, extremely relevant, extremely relevant, unpretentious...and we had a good time."

"Great interaction and sharing.  Brilliant!"

"Transitions is a great mix of information, networking with others in similar situations, and 'best practcice' for future planning."

"This is my sixth transitions and I continue to learn priceless information and make valuable connections with other families."

"Very insightful conference, so many notes I can take back and implement ideas.  Great validation of what we are doing right and where we need to improve."

"Incredible experience with more opportunities than possible to soak up. Such a unique conference!"

"I was hoping to get the family to raise questions and their awareness. I did not expect to actually walk away with a healthy to do list--things we need to change or do.  Thank you!"

"Incredibly informative, efficient, and the most well-organized and intentionally designed conference I've attended."

"Transitions was an eye-opening experience to help our family business create the appropriate ownership and succession structure for the business to thrive into the 6th generation."

"My goal was to raise awareness within the family of how we could bring governance to the business to make it stronger. I had been receiving resistance to the idea and the family left inspired to start a more formal family council structure and create mission and values statements. Goal accomplished!" 

"It was wonderful being able to relate to all these families going through similar issues.  I learned a great deal and will be able to bring this knowledge back to my fellow G3 cousins."

"Great conference, especially in generating NextGen interest and development."

"Very relevant information in settings that were non-threatening with easy and open discussions."

"I always take a number of practical ideas home with me--well worth the cost!"

"Thanks again for hosting a fabulous conference. My dad and I really got a lot out of it, from thinking about governance structures to new insights into executive compensation. For me, more than anything else it was nice to be in a room full of people who think about their businesses from a 'long-term' perspective. It's awfully hard to build anything substantial when your perspective is limited to 5-7 years...I look forward to attending many future Transitions conferences!

"This is truly a conference 'created for family companies by family companies' and, once again, we enjoyed some great, honest presentations by some outstanding family business members, non-family executives and family business experts."

"Great forum for discussion, sharing and learning that can be applied to both our family and our business."

"I was overwhelmed by the value I received from this conference. You did a phenomenal job."

"Very good networking and very good speakers. I was glad to have experienced this conference."

"This was my first family business conference and I met a lot of good people and gained a lot of ideas I can bring back to my family's business."

"Transitions was very enlightening and gave a broader perspective of what others are facing and how they have overcome similar challenges to the ones we face."


The Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa is located 5 miles (approximately 15 minutes) from the Orange County/John Wayne Airport (SNA).  Discover unparalleled beauty and relaxing luxury at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa. After a dramatic $70 million transformation, this hotel offers a whole new take on coastal living with sleek, modern style and the hotel's all-new spa, Pure Blu, which soothes the soul with innovative therapies, a saltwater lap pool, private cabanas, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Near the hotel in Newport Beach, you'll find championship golf, the Newport Beach Bay Nature Reserve, and world-class shopping including Balboa Island and Fashion Island.  Elegant guest rooms with vibrant decor and plush furnishings offer views of the Pacific Ocean, Newport Beach Yacht Harbor or an expansive green golf course.  Accommodations feature cotton-rich linens, pillow-topped mattresses and down duvets with luxury baths with glass-encased full showers and granite countertops.

Special group rates have been secured for Transitions West 2015 attendees:  $210 plus 13% state and local taxes, plus $.25 commerce fee.  This rate includes complimentary internet in guest rooms.  Rooms are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Reservations may be made, modified or canceled online here.

Reservations may also be made by calling 877-622-3056 and referring to the Family Business Magazine Transitions West 2015 Conference.

To obtain the special conference rates, reservations must be made on or before the cut-off date of October 13, 2015. 


Registration Information

Please Note: Attendance at this conference is limited to members, owners, senior executives (including non-family executives and non-family board members) or shareholders of family-owned businesses whose primary business is other than advising family-owned businesses. Senior advisers to family businesses may attend only with family members. Attendance is strictly limited to the first 75 family businesses/enterprises who register

Past attendees of any Transitions Conference, or alumni of Stetson University, receive an additional 10% discount on their registration fees.

All registrants receive a free one year subscription to Family Business Magazine ($79 value), or a one-year extension to their current subscription.  Subscriptions include free online access to Family Business Magazine's extensive online archive of articles, organized by topic. Registration fees do not include hotel or travel expenses.

Click here to begin your registration.

Early Registration Pricing (on or before September 4, 2015)

Family Company Attendees

$1,545--First Attendee from your family company
$1,050--Each additional attendee (Age 30 and above)
$875--Each additional Next Generation attendee (age 29 or below)

Standard Pricing (after September 4, 2015)

Family Company Attendees
$1,750--First Attendee from your family company
$1,250--Each additional attendee (Age 30 and above)
$1,050--Each additional Next Generation attendee (age 29 or below)

For general questions on attendance or help with registration, please contact Justine Wood at (703) 850-5497.

All attendees will be verified prior to acceptance of registration. A family company's advisers may attend only if accompanied by one or more family company members. Other family company advisers may contact Scott Chase at (301) 879-1613 for information on attending.

Registration price includes all conference materials, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner on November 5, breakfast and lunch on November 6, and a welcome reception with buffet dinner on November 4, as well as refreshment breaks.

Registration contact:
Justine Wood
Program Manager
(703) 850-5497

Cancellation policy: All conference cancellations must be made in writing and sent to Justine Wood, Transitions Program Manager, 13631 Maidstone Lane, Potomac, MD 20854; faxed to (301) 987-0476 or emailed to Registrants who cancel more than four weeks prior to the program date are entitled to a full refund of the registration fee less an administrative fee of $150 per registrant; if canceled within four weeks, but more than 10 business days prior to the conference date, 50% of the conference registration fee will be refunded less an administrative fee of $150 per registrant; within ten business days of the conference date and no shows, no refund is possible. Family Business Magazine may cancel the program if attendance does not meet required levels; in case of cancellation or rescheduling, full refunds of registration fees will be made. Travel fares and hotel deposits cannot be reimbursed.

Conference Details

  • Program
  • About this Conference
  • Confirmed Speakers
  • Location and Hotel
  • Registration
  • Sponsors
  • Download the Brochure

  • Your Hosts

    Barbara SpectorBarbara Spector

    Barbara Spector, who grew up in a family business, has served on the editorial staff of Family Business Magazine since 2000 and has been the magazine's editor-in-chief since 2004. She has also compiled and edited six volumes in the acclaimed Family Business Handbook Series, most recently the all-new revised edition of The Family Business Succession Handbook. Previously, she was the managing editor of Jewelers' Circular Keystone, a trade magazine for the jewelry industry, which is primarily composed of family businesses.

    Caro RockCaro Rock

    Caro Rock is the publisher of Family Business Magazine, which is itself owned by a family company with interests in media and information technology research. She was the founder of Main Line Life, a weekly newspaper with 15,000 readers covering the western suburban communities of Philadelphia. She grew up in a family business that manufactured and sold flour under the labels Ceresota and Heckers Flour. The Uhlmann Company, formerly Standard Milling Company, also produced Wheatena and Maypo hot cereals, Patio Chef Charcoal and Just Add Water jelly mix. Today, her father and brother are involved in the family business, which has ventured into additional related businesses.

    Peter Begalla

    Peter Begalla is a family business owner, Family Business Magazine's Conference and Education Director, and Adjunct Professor with Stetson University's Family Enterprise Center. He is at the forefront of Next Generation Leadership Development, having helped hundreds of college-aged students establish credibility and marketability with their family, with their family businesses or with non-family employers. He combines years of counseling experience with over 10 years of business development and marketing experience in online education.


    Platinum Sponsor


    PWC is the Opening Reception Sponsor

    Gold Sponsors


    Bessemer Trust is the Dinner Sponsor


    Abbot Downing is a Lunch Sponsor 

    Vogel Consulting is a Lunch Sponsor


    Ascent is the sponsor of the Breakfasts

    Silver Sponsors



    Bronze Sponsors




    Supporting Sponsors

    Presented In Association With

Family Business Publishing Company • 1845 Walnut Street • Suite 900 • Philadelphia, PA 19103 • (800) 637-4464