O.Berk Company Family Business Forum


The O.Berk Company Family Business Forum was established by the Rothman Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 1992 to support family businesses. The Forum is designed to provide family businesses in the metropolitan area with a unique opportunity to learn from leading experts about proven strategies for successfully owning and operating a family business through outcome oriented educational programs and seminars.

The Forum also provides members with the opportunity to exchange ideas and share experiences. Programs are designed to foster interaction and participation by addressing issues of specific concern. The members-only environment fosters long-term relationships based on mutual trust and understanding and an ongoing dialogue about family and business issues.

O.Berk Company Family Business Forum —2015 Schedule

Social Media Tech Testing Workshop
Presenter: Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO, Pure Performance Communications  -- Thursday, December 10
4:00-6:00 p.m., Hartman Lounge, Hennessy Hall/the Mansion, Florham Campus

The media landscape continues to change and your customers are consuming their news and information much Deirdre B FBFdifferently than in years past. As a result, 2016 will be a year of Tech Tester. Business professionals will be more hands on with social media to understand what their customers need and want from them, and how to interact in their world.

Today, you must constantly challenge yourself, moving out of your comfort zone, by "Tech Testing" different technology platforms, resources, and apps. When you get acquainted with social media technology, you’re taking the time to educate yourself and then pass along the knowledge for your organization. Remember, you want to learn technology that helps to facilitate great interactions and collaboration, giving you a much better understanding of your customers.

The Tech Testing seminar is a hands-on workshop for family business owners and employees to uncover and test some of the most relevant and relied upon technology used by social media experts to:

- Monitor and track relevant conversations

- Find opportunities for influencer engagement 

- Visualize and leverage relationships in social communities

- Learn valuable customer insights 

- Measure through a dashboard

- Be more efficient with time management  

Free for FBF members, FDU faculty, staff and students. $75 for future members. To register, call Gabrielle Zuccaro at 973-443-8842 or e-mail her at gzuccaro@fdu.edu

Press Release

Related Program: New Jersey Family Business of the Year Award


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Previous seminars


Law and Order in the Family Business

Presenter: Edward Ahart, Partner, Schenck, Price, Smith & King, LLP -- Thursday, November 5
8:00-10:30 a.m., Rutherford Room, Ferguson Recreational Center, Florham Campus

Despite their best intentions, many family businesses encounter chaotic situations - some fatal - brought on by a lack of Ed Ahartforesight and preparation. Time and time again, when asked "Do you have that in writing?" a family member will stare blankly, and respond "No, we never did things like that," or "No, we trusted each other."

This interactive session, featuring Ed Ahart, an attorney highly experienced in family business issues, will confront chaotic family business incidents and identify common-sense legal steps that could have been taken to avoid them. Attendees will don their legal hats and match wits with Ed as we all try to bring order out of chaos.

The session will provide a wake-up call for family businesses in all stages of development.

Edward W. Ahart chairs the Corporate Practice Group at Schenck, Price, Smith & King. He practices primarily as a business attorney, concentrating in advising businesses, business owners, directors and managers on governance and entity structural issues, along with transactions including mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, finance and business contracts.  Mr. Ahart served for more than thirty years as a member of the Firm's Managment Committee, including twenty years as the Firm’s Managing Partner and Chair of its Management Committee. In 2010 he relinquished that role to assume the position of Chairman of the Firm, and has now returned to the full-time practice of law.

Mr. Ahart has extensive experience in general business counseling, structuring entities, in business governance, as well as in transactions, including the purchase, sale and financing of businesses and related commercial transactions, in addition to the structuring and restructuring, negotiating and closing of complex asset and stock sales and acquisitions. A considerable percentage of his practice is comprised of the representation of closely held and family-owned businesses, including many insurance agencies, as well as several not-for-profit companies and foundations.

Navigating Work & Family as Employers and Parents
Presenter: Dr. Scott Behson -- Thursday, September 24

Scott Behson, PhD, is a professor of management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, a national expert in work and FBF Behsonfamily  issues, and was a featured speaker at the recent White House Summit on Working Families. He's the author of the forthcoming book, The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home, the first book of its kind to provide advice and encouragement for working fathers, helping them to achieve success in their careers while also being the involved, loving dads they always wanted to be.

Scott founded and runs the popular blog, "Fathers, Work, and Family," dedicated to helping working fathers and encouraging more supportive workplaces. He writes regularly for the Harvard Business Review Online, Huffington Post and the Good Men Project, and has also been published in TIME and The Wall Street Journal. He frequently appears in media, including MSNBC, NPR and Fox News. More details on Dr. Behson's book may be found at: http://workingdadssurvivalguide.com/ or at Amazon.com at http://amzn.to/1PWQtky.

The Fredo Effect, Dr. Kimberly Eddleston -- Thursday, May 28Rothman FBF Kim Eddleston

You may remember that Fredo was the bumbling middle brother in the Godfather novels and films. "Fredo" has become a label applied to family employees who are more likely to be found shirking rather than working, and are impediments to the smooth running of the business. In this workshop we will discuss how to identify Fredos, and what steps can be taken to minimize their damage. Participants will gain a better understanding of how family relationships can give birth to a Fredo, and  how the "Fredo Effect" can be avoided, or mitigated,  in the future.

The workshop will include some fun scenarios that are approached as "What would you do?" and participation by family business attendees will be encouraged. Join us at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ for this intriguing seminar! RSVP to gzuccaro@fdu.edu or call 973-443-8842.

Kimberly A. Eddleston is a Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University, where she holds the Daniel and Dorothy Grady Research Fellowship. She is also a research fellow at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland and the Toft Professor at Jönköping International Business School. Professor Eddleston received her Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut and her graduate degree from Cornell University and Group ESSEC. Her research focuses on family businesses and the careers of entrepreneurs. Professor Eddleston serves on the editorial board of multiple journals including Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, Family Business Review, Journal of Family Business Strategy, Group & Organization Management, and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. Professor Eddleston has won multiple awards for her research including best paper awards from the Family Firm Institute, Diana International Conference on Women’s Entrepreneurship, USASBE, Journal of Small Business Management, and Academy of Management. Over the years, she has consulted with numerous family businesses and has led a consulting course at Northeastern University that has assisted more than 125 small businesses to date. In addition, she has had various levels of involvement with several of her family’s businesses.

Fee: Free for members and first time guests, $45 for future members.

Wine and Cheese Social and Personal Transformation in Your Family Firm -- Micheline Nader, Blue Dolphin Healthcare Group
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 • 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. - Hartman Lounge in the Mansion/Hennessy Hall, FDU's Florham Campus in Madison

Join fellow family businesses to enjoy wine from a local NJ family business, and learn about personal transformation andRothman Micheline Nader FBF  how it can benefit your family enterprise! Discover your true self, heal your limiting patterns and connect to your purpose in life – a 5-Step Process to Conscious Awareness. Entrepreneur and author Micheline Nader will lead participants through a carefully constructed process to shed light on, and reclaim, those lost parts of the self. Her process is approachable, practical, and free of jargon, making it accessible regardless of participants' incoming beliefs. Nader applied these methods to coach the staff and leadership teams of her healthcare companies, as well as boards of directors and business leaders. The results have been consistently transformational, with participants reporting changed attitudes, improved wellbeing, and deeper understanding of their behavior. She discovered that happy leaders create happy organizations. Consciously aware employees become more accountable and therefore high performers. When leaders are empowered, organizations thrive. RSVP by April 28. Call 973-443-8842 or e-mail gzuccaro@fdu.edu.

Harnessing the Power of Your Relationships
Thursday, February 26, 2015 • 8:15 a.m.- 10:30 a.m

Rothman Andy Bluestone FBF 2015Andrew Bluestone, CFP, Author, Trainer, and Coach, Graduate of Harvard Business School President's Program in Leadership

Healthy relationships are not just good for you, but good for business and the people you work with. Learn from a proven leader how to grow and cultivate purposeful relationships, and learn what your Networking Quotient (NQ) is! Join us at this dynamic and engaging session, where you will learn, grow, and be challenged to think about networking and the "power of purpose" in a different light. The instructor will also show you how to leverage your social media reach, and how to be the best version of YOU on LinkedIN. You will leave this session with both insightful and practical tools to find the purpose in each of your relationships, and how healthy relationships will strengthen your family firm for 2015 and beyond!

2014 FBF Flyer

Want a copy of our snazzy new postcard flyer? We'll put one in the mail to you! It's a great visual and adds a splash of color to any wall or office corkboard. Simply give us a call or send an e-mail.

2014 FBF Seminars
Evolving Trends in Social Media

Thursday, December 4, 2014 • 4:00-6:00 p.m.  
David Deutsch, Chief Strategist, Synergi SocialRothman Facebook logo NEW HALF

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram-Not sure where to begin or improve? We've designed a session that will help you to leverage social media, to save time while still investing in the online and community growth of your company. David Deutsch, a social media expert, will be on hand to provide expert and practical tools to stay on the cutting edge of relevant social media for your firm. Learn how to attract new customers via unique marketing, engage more current clients, and collaborate within and outside of your industry! You're welcome to bring your Smartphones, tablets or laptops for hands-on learning, or you can be "hands-free" without devices and learn from the instructor, who will have plenty of engaging and interactive visual examples.

Emotional Intelligence and Resolving Conflict
Thursday, October 30, 2014 • 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Speaker: Ray Crew, MS, Educational Psychology; Senior Vice President, Leadership Development Services, Applied Research Corporation

We've heard of IQ, but what about EQ? What is Emotional Quotient, better known as Emotional Intelligence? How can it guide your decisions in business, and help to interpret, assess and manage the emotions of yourself and others in the workplace? From the groundbreaking research of Peter Salovey, John Mayer, and other researchers and scientists, learn how small businesses, corporations and educational institutions worldwide are embracing the importance of investing in EQ in the workplace, and how it can benefit your firm today and for years to come.

Sponsor Insights: Navigating the Turbulence of Succession
September 18, 2014 • 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Presenter: Alan Sobel, Sobel & Co. rothman alan sobel FULL

Family businesses are powerful corporate citizens, and often have a multi-generational effect on the community. Generational transition in a family firm can be a stressful time. If managed incorrectly, it can cause damage both to the business and to family relationships. The right ownership structure and strategy can prevent this. In this session, Mr. Sobel will share insights on how family firms can effectively weather succession, and how to set a transition plan in place that will protect the interests of both the business, and the family, for generations to come.

Executive Decisions
Thursday, May 29, 2014 • 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Speaker: Len Green, CPA, MBA, Founder and Chairman, The Green Group

rothman len green LOGOThis session will be in the form of an interactive family business case study where attendees at the FDU Family Forum will role play the characters and be asked to make executive decisions. This 'live' case study will illustrate the complex succession dynamics within family firms. Prizes will be awarded for the “best solutions” at the conclusion of the session. Facilitated by renowned family business expert Len Green, it will focus on current challenges facing family businesses, and provide members and attendees tools and best practices on how to best handle a range of situations that affect all members involved in family enterprises.

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Financing the Growth of Your Family Firm –SBA Loans: Higher Limits, Greater Opportunities
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 • 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Speakers: Thomas L. Hofstetter and Edward Ahart from Schenck, Price, Smith & King, LLP and Robert Lemaire, Citibank 

Learn about the Small Business Administration's new loan flexibility, which can directly affect the growth and sustainabilityof your business. This session will provide a unique opportunity to gain insightful “real time” counsel on financial issues that are important for our members. Tom Hofstetter, a national expert on SBA loans, rothman bob lemaire LOGOwill be on hand to address how the SBA's loan flexibility impacts your business, and Bob Lemaire will share tools on SBA loan lending programs. Hear expert advice, receive valuable feedback and guidance, and network with other family businesses!


Family Enterprise: What Stakeholders and Their Advisers Need to KnowBlair Trippe LOGO Wednesday, February 12, 2014 • 4:30-6:00 p.m.
(Rescheduled from Feb. 13 due to snow storm.)

Speaker: Blair Trippe, Principal, Continuity Family Business Consulting

Family business stakeholders recognize that their environment is more complicated, largely because they recognize the importance of maintaining the strength of their business and family relationships. In this comprehensive presentation, Blair discussed key practices from a consultant’s perspective who also has been a family business stakeholder. Vital elements of family-business conflict management were be discussed, including the motivations of each stakeholder group, understanding where power is held in the family business and the importance of professional collaboration in helping family-business stakeholders.

For More Information

If you are interested in attending an upcoming session as our guest or to learn more about the Forum, please contact us at 973-443-8842. Gabrielle will be happy to share details about the exciting and dynamic opportunities the Family Business Forum offers. More about the Institute at www.fdu.edu/rothman.

We graciously thank Norbert Gaelen and his family for their generous contribution to the Institute's Family Business Forum, and we are pleased to announce that the Rothman Norbert Gaelen LOGOForum was renamed,      "The O.Berk Company Family Business Forum." The Gaelen family's special commitment will enable the Institute to grow services and help more family firms succeed locally, regionally and globally.

Over the course of four generations as a family-owned and operated business, the O.Berk Company has worked tirelessly to maintain their tradition of outstanding customer satisfaction. Combined with a vision for future growth and innovation, the 104-year old O.Berk Company continues to be a leading, full-service supplier of glass and plastic containers and closures nationwide.

Why a Forum only for family firms?

Family businesses face unique challenges. In addition to all of the fundamental issues involved in operating a business, families in business must address a number of other important concerns, including:

  • Developing visions for the family and business that are  mutually compatible 
  • Selecting and preparing successors
  • Planning for estate taxes and ownership transfer
  • Developing fair and effective compensation strategies for  family members as well as non-family employees
  • Developing and implementing governance structures
  • Fostering open and productive communication
  • Creating productive roles for family members who are not  active in the business
  • Managing conflict within the family and business
  • Attracting and retaining non-family managers and employees

What to Expect from a Forum Seminar

A typical O. Berk Company Family Business Forum seminar consists of from 30 to 50 attendees – representing two or three generations - with family and non-family members - from various types and sizes of businesses. Representatives from sponsoring organizations are also present at seminars to offer their expertise when appropriate. Seminars vary in content and format. Some feature family business experts while others include panels of members and sponsors.

Membership Benefits 

Three 3-Hour Breakfast Programs

These sessions are designed to provide members with ample time to fully explore issues with the aid of national experts, while offering  enough time to return to the office for the better part of the afternoon. The day begins with continental breakfast at 8:00 a.m.

Two 2-Hour Breakfast Programs

These two-hour sessions focus on subjects of timely interest to members, and often feature regional experts or panels of Forum sponsors and members. The seminars begin at 8:30 a.m. and finish by 10:30 a.m. Continental breakfast is included.

Updates on Legal, Financial and Other Important Issues

Each Forum seminar features brief updates by one or more professionals on current or developing business issues relevant to family businesses.

Peer Group Meetings

These meetings allow members to join together in small groups to meet with each other and a facilitator to discuss issues which they identify as important to them. Participation in a Peer Group complements the Forum sessions by allowing members to further explore issues, many of which are generation-specific, in a smaller, more intimate setting. For example, there are groups for the Successor Generation and for Owners and Founders.

Free Consultation with Forum Sponsors

Each member family is offered a complimentary consultation with each of the Forum sponsors.

rothman fbf sponsors 2014 FULL

An Annual Social Gathering

The relationships that develop among members are one of the greatest benefits of membership. The December holiday gathering is an opportunity for members, sponsors and University representatives to relax and get to know one another better in a purely social setting. Musical entertainment, gourmet hors d'oeuvres, prizes, and reconnecting with friends old and new all contribute to a lovely and festive evening in the historic and elegant Lenfell Hall in FDU's Hennessy Hall.

Subscription to the Rothman Ink

Rothman Ink, the Institute’s newsletter, keeps Forum members  apprised of issues related to entrepreneurship as well as the various  programs which fall under the auspices of the Rothman Institute.   Previous Family Ink Articles

Free Access and Reduced Fees for Rothman Institute Programs

In our member's words:
 “The bottom-line in family leadership is our relationship with loved ones. The workshops and group sessions shape gifted people into authentic leaders who can better balance compassion and command while creating wealth for stakeholders.”
- Tom Sutherland, Sutherland Packaging Co.

 “It is nice to know we are not alone; other family businesses struggle with similar issues. The Family Business Forum has provided a means for us to learn how other families have successfully dealt with business issues we are facing. The Forum is much more than just a series of seminars.”
- Mary Speckhart, White Conveyors, Inc.

For More Information

The best way to learn about the O. Berk Company Family Business Forum is to experience a seminar first-hand. If you are interested in attending an upcoming session as our guest, or you would like to speak with us or a current member about the Forum, please contact Gabrielle Zuccaro at the Rothman Institute at 973-443-8842.


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Expert advice at your fingertips. Check out our innovative Family Business Playbook and App for your tablet or Smartphone! Call or email us for details.

New Jersey Family Business of the Year Award: Nominate your favorite family firm today!


New Report Reveals The 500 Largest Family-Owned Companies In The World - Forbes

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FBF Members socializing at a seminar

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Amy Schuman presents, "Mastering Family Business Polarities"

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FBF Members and guests at a Forum session


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Dynamic FBF seminars provide practical tools for family firms.

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Deb DiGregorio presents on Social Media

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FBF Members enjoying the Annual Holiday Social


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A holiday toast


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Meeting with friends old and new


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Norbert Gaelen, Leo Rogers, and late FDU President J. Michael Adams at the Rothman Institute's 20th Anniversary celebration




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VLV Mentors and Rothman friends join Family Business members to celebrate the season



“Economic freedom is the foundation for individual success and prosperity. This freedom is evident in the entrepreneurial small business sector, which creates most of the new jobs and a large share of the innovations in the American economy. When government takes small businesses into consideration in developing regulations, it saves time and money for the nation’s most productive sector.” 

Dr. Winslow Sargeant, Chief Counsel, U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, on the President's Small Business Agenda and Executive Order 13272













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Lenfell Hall warmly greets guests with festive decor at annual Holiday Social