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The first group of business owners and employees recently graduated from the Wisconsin Family Business Forum’s Family Business Education Certificate Program.

Since 1996, the Wisconsin Family Business Forum at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has been working with families and their businesses to foster their continued health through programs, information, networking, resources, research and life experiences. Housed in the College of Business, the forum has assisted hundreds of family businesses.

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 and possibly the country. FBE is designed to provide the basics of family business ownership, leadership and family dynamics primarily to next generation family members. In the span of seven full-day sessions, the FBE program introduced a cohort of participants to the essentials of family business while building a strong network of peers among the classmates.

In May 2010, the forum graduated the first class representing family businesses from throughout the New North, Illinois, and Kansas as well as family business professionals who sought to better understand the dynamics of family business. Although the majority of participants were next-generation family members, the class was enhanced by the enrollment of senior leaders and family business professionals.

Class attendees

  • Deanne Bremer, Badger Mining Corporation, Berlin
  • Heather Gonyo, Badger Mining Corporation, Fairwater
  • Jason Wuest, Badger Mining Corporation, Berlin
  • Matt Beno, Beno Plumbing, Green Bay
  • Jon Faulks, Faulks Bros. Construction, Waupaca
  • Rebecca Brown, Fox Cities Records Services, Appleton
  • Phil Janes, Janesco, Neenah
  • Mark Tushar, Janesco, Neenah
  • Scott Kobussen, Kobussen Buses, Oshkosh
  • Benjamin Mullins, Mullins Cheese, Mosinee
  • Joan Schaupp, P&S Investment Company, Green Bay
  • Mary Schaupp, P&S Investment Company, Chicago, Ill.
  • Ann Lahde, Schenck S.C., Appleton
  • Ruth Van Zeeland, Van Zeeland Manufacturing, Little Chute
  • Donna Nelson, Wisconsin Family Business Forumm, Oshkosh
  • Randy Mahoney, Wipfli, Appleton
  • Beth Wenzel, Zander Press, Brillion
  • Cathy Regnier, Johnson County Management, Kansas City, Ka.

Focused and highly relevant content was delivered by experienced educators, family business professionals/advisers and business owners. Topics included business management, family governance, evolving leadership, managing culture, change and conflict, evolving ownership and strategic planning in a family business.

Course leaders

  • Lori Phillippi, 1st National Bank, Berlin
  • Bradley Berndt, Auto Haus on Velp, Green Bay
  • Tom Stark, Badger Mining Corporation, Berlin
  • Gary Adams, College of Business, UW Oshkosh
  • Ashay Desai, College of Business, UW Oshkosh
  • Dale Feinauer, College of Business, UW Oshkosh
  • E. Alan Hartman, College of Business, UW Oshkosh
  • Phil Janes, Derby Molded Products, Neenah
  • Mike Schmidt, First National Bank-Fox Valley, Oshkosh
  • David Gneiser, Fond du Lac Bumper Exchange, Fond du Lac
  • Tim Feldhausen, Godfrey & Kahn S.C., Green Bay
  • Jane Sweasy, Jag Outdoor Advertising, Algoma
  • Jim Janes, Janesco, Oshkosh
  • Curt Ignacio, Marion Body Works, Marion
  • Anne des Marais Vought, Menasha Corporation, Neenah
  • Mike Rekitzke, N.E.W. Plastics, Luxemburg
  • Spencer Bonnie, Pathmakers Inc., Oneida
  • Thom Cody, Pathmakers Inc., Oneida
  • Ron Altenburg, Schenck S.C., Appleton
  • Sandy Friess, Wipfli, Appleton
  • Julia Johnson, Wipfli, Appleton

The knowledge and understanding gained through participation in FBE is designed to prepare individuals for leadership and ownership roles in their businesses and for strengthened planning and communication in their families and their businesses.

For more information about the Wisconsin Family Business Forum, visit

Photo: front row, from left, Dale Feinauer, Cathy Regnier, Ann Lahde, Heather Gonyo, Ben Mullins and Donna Nelson; and back, from left, Phil Janes, Ruth Van Zeeland, Sue Schierstedt, Randy Mahoney, Jon Faulks, Scott Kobussen, Beth Wenzel and Mark Tushar.