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Business owners and employees who participated in the 2010 Family Business Education certificate program.

Family-owned companies present unique challenges to those who run them.

“Being part of a family that owns a business doesn’t necessarily mean that family member understands what makes the business different because it’s all the family may have experience doing,” said Sue Schierstedt, executive director of the Wisconsin Family Business Forum housed in the College of Business at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

The Wisconsin Family Business Forum at UW Oshkosh has been working with families and their businesses since 1996 to foster their continued health through programs, information, networking, resources, research and life experiences. Hundreds of family businesses have been assisted by the forum, Schierstedt said.

The Forum brings together partners from throughout the area to explore the challenges and rewards of the family business. Locally, companies such as Elmstar Electric Corp., of Kaukauna, Tri-City Glass, of Appleton, and Badger Mining, of Berlin, have participated in the programing.

The Forum’s innovative approach to family business support led it to launch the Family Business Education (FBE) certificate program, the first of its kind in the state. The next FBE sessions begin in October.

FBE is designed to provide the basics of family business ownership, leadership and family dynamics primarily to next generation of family members. The FBE program sessions are held monthly and will run Oct. 12, 2011 through April 11, 2012.

The FBE certificate program will include the following sessions:

  • Defining the Family Business
  • Family Business Governance
  • Strategic Planning in a Family Business
  • Business Management
  • Evolving Ownership in the Family Business
  • Evolving Leadership in the Family Business
  • Managing Culture, Change and Conflict

Registration is now open for the FBE program. Contact Donna Nelson via email at or by phone at (920) 424-1541. The registration deadline is Oct. 1, 2011 with early discount if registered by Sept. 1, 2011.

For more information about the Wisconsin Family Business Forum, visit

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