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SF Small Business Week. Celebrate Small Business.

USF Gellert Family Business Resource Center: Family Business Drives US economy

#SFSBW2017 asked some of our resources to share insights, best practices, and examples of how they help small business owners flourish. Today we hear from USF Gellert Family Business Resource Center.

USF Gellert Family Business Resource Center group photo

Tell us about your organization’s mission in one sentence.

We provide family-owned businesses with technical assistance, access to networking, and an open exchange of strategic and practical business information.  We also advance the field of family business research, education and scholarship.

What are your organization’s recent accomplishments that demonstrate how you have helped the small business community?

Over the last year, the University of San Francisco’s Gellert Family Business Resource Center has sponsored a wine speaker’s series with the intent of providing continuity, financial and legal support to family-owned wineries.  Our most recent event focused on enhancing profitability and was held on April 26th at Peju/Liana Wineries, featuring Larry Wood of DZH Phillips, LLC., George Coope of Zepponi & Company, Steve Dorfman of Ciatti,  and John Franke of KBKG, with Paula Harrell of serving as a discussant.

Our upcoming Gellert Family Business Award reception will allow us to recognize two San Francisco-based, family-owned businesses:  Twilight Café and Deli and Mix’Coatl Arts & Crafts.  Post-award, we will be providing these firms with resources to strengthen various aspects of their operations including promoting these businesses throughout the Bay Area. The latter is part of our effort to provide these and other family businesses with a wider media base as well as targeted technical assistance designed to build upon their existing company assets.

What tools and resources have your organization created to help small businesses tap into new opportunities to reach new customers, increase their revenue, and grow their business?

Through referrals and direct services, USF’s Gellert Family Business Resource Center offers access to strategic and practical family business information, networking and associated research, education and scholarship.  Under faculty direction, our students provide consulting support designed to augment the success of these firms. Our research findings aid in identifying and improving firm growth. Through speaker series, luncheons and related events, we connect family firms with one another and create a knowledge base that aids in enhancing the “family side” of business.

San Francisco has been experiencing quite the transformation. What is your organization doing to attract and support new and younger small business owners? What resources do you offer to entrepreneurs and small businesses to get started?

We promote successful next generation leadership by providing our students with opportunities to connect theory and family business practice through various classes including an immersion course in Cali, Colombia and a practicum that focuses on family businesses located along San Francisco’s major commercial corridors.

San Francisco is known for its diverse culture. How does your organization ensure that the small businesses that make this city unique are able to stay in San Francisco?

USF students were actively engaged in the Proposition J education and advocacy effort. Students fanned out to provide one-on-one informational presentations to businesses along the Haight, Divisadero, Geary, and Stanyan/Parker corridors. As a part of this outreach, students shared informational flyers and spoke with employees, customers and owners of area small businesses, both new and legacy. We believe their targeted efforts contributed to the successful passage of this proposition in November 2015.

Building upon the Proposition J effort, students have continued to provide business owners in the Divisadero, Mission, and now Geary and Clement Street commercial corridors with information about available City and SBA programs that can assist them with acquiring their buildings (if the owner is currently leasing space) and well as more general information about technical assistance available to support longer term business growth and development.

What words of advice or wisdom would you like to share with small business owners? 

Family businesses are the economic drivers of the US economy. Towards that end, the Gellert Center supports the enterprise, the family and the ownership processes that comprise family businesses.

We would love to hear some real life examples of how you’ve supported small businesses. 

Ardian Zagar co-founder and CEO of Brevitas

The Center continues its engagement as its students move into family firm ownership. Whether it’s selecting an alumni-owned family business for award recognition (BiRite Food Services Distributors, the 27th largest company in the industry, was the 2010 recipient of the Gellert Center award as well as USF alumni) or having its alumni serve on its Advisory Board, the Center views its graduates and their involvement as family firm owners as crucial to its mission.

By way of example, current Advisory Board member and USF alumni, Ardian Zagari, is a co-founder and CEO of Brevitas, a commercial real estate platform, which has over $430 million in closed transactions since opening in June 2015. Brevitas has employed at least five USF interns and the firm continues to serve as a potential first-stage employer for new job market entrants in the San Francisco Bay Area.