Center for Family & Privately Held Business to celebrate 20 years of education, service

November 9, 2012 | Events, UToday, Business and Innovation
By Bob Mackowiak

Members and sponsors of The University of Toledo Center for Family & Privately Held Business will hold a 20th anniversary celebration Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the Toledo Hilton.

Established in 1992, the UT Center for Family & Privately Held Business is dedicated to serving the specific needs of family businesses, primarily in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. It received its start due to a generous endowment by the Stranahan Foundation and the continual support of family businesses.

“Simply stated, we are a valuable, trustworthy pipeline to the answers and resources these business professionals want and need,” said Debbe Skutch, director of the center. “The fact that we have been successfully doing this for 20 years now is an acknowledgement of that service, and it makes us feel very good about it.”

With more than 130 family businesses today, the center offers membership benefits that include:

• Attendance at events and forums;

• Monthly mini-forums available to member companies only;

• Interaction with family business peers through affinity group participation;

• Access to local, regional and nationally recognized business experts.

Fourteen companies have been members since the center was established; these include The Andersons, the Appliance Center, Brooks Insurance, Gross Electric, Hart Associates, Kuhlman Corp., Shrader Tire & Oil, and Walt Churchill’s Market.

Current corporate sponsors are Fifth Third Bank; Huntington National Bank; Paramount; Eastman & Smith; Gilmore, Jasion & Mahler; Seymour and Associates; Plante Moran Financial Advisors; and Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick.

“We strive to be ever-attentive, ever-responsive to the changing needs of our members,” Skutch said. “Their businesses are not static, but always evolving. They change as the economy changes, as world markets shift, and as dynamics change in their own businesses. We truly believe it is our responsibility to be there with pertinent answers to as many of these issues as we can. We have done that, which is why our members stay with us and new members join us all the time.”

Dr. Thomas Sharkey, interim dean of the UT College of Business and Innovation, said, “Our thanks to our members, all those who have served on the advisory board, and to the sponsoring companies whose financial support helps us fulfill our mission. I would also like to express special recognition and sincere thanks to Debbe Skutch, whose outstanding leadership throughout the center’s first 20 years is a key reason why so many companies are active, successful and contributing members of the center.

He added, “Furthermore, we are pleased that the center, although directly focused on meeting the needs of businesses, continues to be of immense value to many students at The University of Toledo, through internships, mentoring opportunities, lessons in entrepreneurship and more.”

“Over our first two decades of service, we estimate that the information, resources, programs, networking and more has resulted in a positive impact worth millions of dollars to these regional businesses. The viability of our members is the reward we seek, and together we will continue to make a meaningful difference in their future success,” Skutch said.

“I especially want to recognize our founding members who had the vision to see what our business community needed and the fortitude to nurture the center through its earliest years.” Skutch said.

The 20th anniversary celebration will feature dinner, networking, and a presentation on longevity and innovation from sixth and seventh generations at the 200-year-old family-owned business Crane & Company.

The public is invited to the celebration, although registration is required. To attend or learn more about the center, call 419.530.4058 or visit

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