Written by The Business Journal Staff
Institute for Family Business
Education: Doctorate degree in business administration with a concentration in organizational behavior and human resource management, University of Memphis.
Master of Business Administration degree, Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in management, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Currently pursuing a graduate degree in psychology through Harvard Extension School.
Family: Married with two dogs. My wife and I met during orientation when I came to work at Fresno State. We took a picture together with the school mascot, and she asked me to text it to her. She told me later that this was a clever plan to get my number. I’m glad she did. Our dogs include a 2-year-old husky, Cooper, and a 13-year-old German shepherd mix, Boston. Cooper has a unique skillset of being able to open any door in our house.
WHAT WE DO: Founded in 1989, the IFB, part of the Craig School of Business at Fresno State, serves as a vital resource providing family businesses in the Central Valley the opportunity to gather and discuss issues, share strategies and learn from those who have faced similar challenges. We offer educational workshops, networking events and other resources that help sustain family-owned businesses and drive economic growth in the region.
We currently have more than a dozen people involved in running the organization, including myself, staff in our dean’s office and the University Business Center, along with members of our governing board and committee members. We’re also starting an internship program next semester to give students opportunities to learn more about running family businesses.
What is your role in the IFB?
As the director, I support the organization through strategic planning, treasury operations, facilitation of events and overseeing day-to-day activities. I’m fairly new to the role, so most of my time is spent meeting with local business owners to better understand their needs, build our infrastructure and ensure that we’re offering high-quality services to the community.
Most of the “heavy lifting” in our workload is done by our wonderful board and committee members. They’re really the ones responsible for our success. They set up educational workshops, social-networking events, research opportunities, and they manage our annual family business awards banquet.
I also work as an assistant professor of management for the Craig School. This will be my fifth year teaching undergraduate and MBA courses in human resources and organizational behavior. In addition I own a management-consulting firm in which I help local business leaders manage human capital issues, with a particular focus on engagement and retention.
What was the best business advice you ever received?
When I was in high school, I spent my summers cleaning golf clubs at a golf course in upstate New York. One day, I went running down to the driving range, and the golf pro asked why I wasn’t taking a golf cart. He told me to work smarter, not harder. Although life is a lot easier if you do both, we have limited resources, so it’s important to focus on what really matters and to do it in the best way possible.
What are your roots in the Central Valley?
I moved to Fresno after finishing graduate school in Tennessee. I was interviewing at about six California State University schools, but I chose Fresno State because the faculty there was phenomenal. We have people who could work at just about any university in the world, so to be able to work alongside them is a privilege.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
My first job was a lawn-mowing and snow-shoveling business that I started with my brother when I was 12 years old. It taught me the value of hard work and persistence. I firmly believe that anything in life is possible, but nothing worth having comes easy. If you want something, you have to go out and earn it.
What is the current environment to start a family business in the Valley and what are the chances of them surviving?
It really depends on the industry. Economic indicators, including interest rates, home sales and the stock market suggest that we may be heading into a decline, though many family businesses continue to thrive, even in uncertain market conditions. Those businesses that succeed tend to be highly efficient and customer focused.
How can people with business backgrounds get involved with the IFB and what roles can they play in the organization?
We have a lot of opportunities for people who are looking to give back and get more involved in the community. They can serve as board or committee members; donate to the IFB through our website, www.fresnostate.edu/craig/ifb; sponsor an event; host a workshop; or simply attend one of our free seminars.
What sorts of research is the IFB conducting?
We’re currently conducting research on employee turnover, wellbeing, and organizational change. Our research has been published in leading journals, including Human Resource Management Review and the Journal of Business and Psychology.
How are students and faculty involved in your program?
We have a student intern who will be starting in the spring, and we’re rolling out a scholarship fund for undergraduate students next year. We also have several student groups, including the Society for Human Resource Management, that help out during events. Faculty are primarily involved through research partnerships and educational workshops.
What are some of the IFB’s accomplishments?
The IFB has been helping family businesses for nearly 30 years, so there are many stories of events that helped them to improve their profitability, reduce costs, manage transitions to younger generations and so on. We’ve also raised close to $500,000 for our endowment, which help us enhance our services to the community, fund student and faculty research and ensure continuity of the IFB. I can’t tell you how grateful we are to have people that include the Ruiz family, who founded and operate Dinuba-based Ruiz Foods. The family donated in 2016 $125,000 to the institute and much more to the university. We have some amazing people in our little community.
What are the future plans for the IFB?
We plan to grow membership by more than 15 percent this year; involve more students and faculty through scholarships, educational programs and research; and increase the number of services provided by our institute to better meet the needs of family businesses in the Central Valley.