Center for Family Business Newsletter - Fall 2022

In this Issue

From the Director

Mary Beth Wilcher

Mary Beth Wilcher

Credit: Contributed Photo

I hope you are enjoying the latest edition of the Center for Family Business Quarterly Newsletter. We took a brief hiatus in publishing the newsletter to focus our time on establishing meaningful programming sessions addressing specific concerns that our early adopter members told us they needed. Details of our program sessions are now available on the Center for Family Business website. You will find dates for the events, locations, speaker bios, what you can expect to take away from the session, and an RSVP link.

At the Center for Family Business, we offer a variety of educational programs to help you connect with like-minded business owners and leaders. Here, you can learn and grow alongside other leaders of family-owned and privately held businesses in a confidential and trusted environment. Our single and half-day events, multi-day programming, and our ever-popular lunch-and-learn sessions let you hear from subject matter experts and collaborate with and learn from family and privately held businesses facing the same challenges you are. You are truly not alone when you’re a member of the Center.

We’re growing our membership and currently have 44 businesses enrolled in the Center. A list of our members can be found on our website. When you join the Center, everyone in your business has the opportunity to participate in programming and events. We also provide an add-on to the membership that allows for peer group participation for anyone within the business. The cost for a 12-month membership is $500, and $200 additional for each peer group participant. Essentially, the cost for a membership is less than a $42 per month investment in your company.

If you are already a member of the Center, we are so glad you’re here. If you’re not a member yet but want more information regarding joining, please contact us. We measure our success one family at a time.

—Mary Beth Wilcher, Director

About the Chair

Recently, Doug Neckers from Maplevale Farms has stepped down as chair of the Advisory Board. Doug was instrumental in guiding the Center through its developmental stages through its successful launch last year. He has been an energetic and enthusiastic visionary for the Center, and his smiling face was always a welcome presence at meetings. He has been an eager advocate for the Center as a frequent guest speaker at events, in the press, and even on Chancellor Ralph Ford’s Behrend Talks podcast.

Leading the Center into its next phase will be Greg Yahn, owner and president of Advanced Finishing USA in Fairview Township.

Greg Yahn

Greg Yahn

Credit: Contributed Photo

Greg is a third-generation engineering graduate of Penn State. He graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering in 1985 and earned his MBA from the Black School of Business in 1999.

After graduation in 1985, Greg started in the family business in plant maintenance. He has worked his way through the ranks, becoming president in 2000 and now serving as board chair. During his time as president and CEO of the company, Greg has been responsible for building and moving into the current 80,000-square-foot facility; starting a sister company, Archi-Texture Finishing, which combines digital art and manufacturing to make beautiful wood grain powder coatings; introducing an anti-microbial line of coatings; and developing a military wet painting division, making Advanced Finishing one of the largest and most diverse metal finishing companies in the country.

Proud to be a Penn State graduate, Greg gives back to Behrend by serving as an active member on the Behrend Council of Fellows Board of Directors, and was the founding chair of the Digital Media, Arts, and Technology Committee. He was also the Behrend chair of the successful Capital Campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.” Advanced Finishing and A-Tex sponsored the first Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies capstone projects and continue to support both undergraduate and graduate projects at Penn State Behrend.

The Yahn Family is blessed with four beautiful children living coast to coast.

Member Spotlight

Port Farms, Waterford PA

Port Farms, an “agritainment” business in Waterford, Pennsylvania, is celebrating its 125th anniversary. Kelly and Jerry Port are the current and fourth-generation owners of this business. Casey Port, in the fifth generation of the family, has been an active member of the Center for Family Business from nearly the beginning. She currently serves as our Events Chair and is a member of our first Peer Group.

Port Farms started as a potato and dairy farm then moved into soybeans, corn, and wheat. Today, Port Farms is a year-round destination as a place where family memories are made. With five full-time employees and 60-70 seasonal staff members, Port Farms offers pumpkins, Christmas trees, flowers, and gourds. and is also an event center for weddings and festivals. A destination brewery is currently being developed, with plans to open in early 2023.

Sponsor Spotlight

Thank you to our sponsors:

Champion of the Center

  • HBK/HBKS (June 2022)
  • Erie Insurance (June 2022)

Friend of the Center

  • Knox Law Firm (March 2022)

Supporter of the Center

  • Marquette Savings Bank* (December 2021)
    * Our first sponsor!

To learn about sponsorship opportunities for your company, please contact Britt Daehnke at [email protected].

Recent Programs

Photo of Linda L. Bluso and Michael Trabert

Linda L. Bluso, J.D., and Michael Trabert, CPA, CVA, CMAP, CEPA, CM&AA, spoke on succession planning and legacy transition as a crucial part of a family business. 

Credit: Penn State Behrend

The past several months have been very busy for the Center. In May, we hosted a program at the Manufacturer & Business Association’s facility on the topic of Succession Planning. The speaker was Michael Trabert, an attorney and member of the Estate Planning Institute, and Linda Bluso, J.D. They are both experts on helping businesses plan for the eventual transfer of ownership, whether that be through an outright sale or through a transfer to the next generation.

In July, Jennifer Gromek, HR Director for the U.S. Circuit Court in Cleveland, had a discussion with members on the topics of Hiring and Retention Strategies. This event created a great dialogue between the speaker and the attendees, and all went home with some new ideas to consider.

Upcoming Events

  • October 4, 11, 18, 25: Leadership Development Program

  • October 18: Fall half-day event featuring James Bly, of Ernst and Young, and Jodi Berg, of Vitamix

  • November: Special members-only event

To register for these events, please go to our Center for Family Business events page.

Request for Advisory Board Members and Committee Members

One of the greatest assets of the Center for Family Business is our members. We are extremely focused on creating value for our members by connecting them to knowledge and resources. We’d love to have you join as a member of our Advisory Board or as a member of one of our important committees.

We are particularly in need of members to help in the following committees:

  • Membership: Share ideas about ways to recruit new members to the Center. Also work on events that are focused on the social/member networking aspect of the Center.
  • Programming: Be involved in the programming direction of the Center. Is there a particular speaker or topic you are interested in? Is there a program that you can provide? What kinds of programs should we be providing at the Center?

Please contact us if you’d like to talk about these opportunities.