Center for Family Business

Don Welch, Globe Manufacturing
Tom Sullivan, Sullivan Construction

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“It’s lonely at the top. I found that my involvement in the Center for Family Business has given me a place to learn and share my issues with my peers. It’s not so lonely anymore. I get to learn from some of the top family business owners in NH.” – David Greer, CEO, Wire Belt

Wire Belt
  David Greer, Wire Belt Company
  Sherry DeScenza, DeScenza Diamonds
  Kevin Tacy, Fosters Downeast Clambake

Family Businesses are a Critical Part of
New England's Economy

UNH recognizes that family owned businesses are important. Approximately 85-90% of businesses in the Northern New England Area are family-controlled; they employ two-thirds of the workforce and are responsible for creating the majority of the state's new jobs. Family firms outperform non-family-owned businesses in most areas including bottom line, value creation for stockholders, the capacity to create jobs, community involvement, and a commitment to continuity from generation to generation.

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About the Center

The purpose of the Center for Family Business is to offer services and information to entrepreneurial families. Our aim is making and keeping family businesses successful.

Members of the program are family businesses, large and small, ranging from first to seventh generation, representing all sectors of the economy, from New Hampshire, Maine, Northern Massachusetts, and Vermont. The Center for Family Business is made possible by member support as well as that of our corporate sponsors.

A Brief History of the Center

The Center started in 1993 as the Penley Forum for Family-Owned Business. This forum was designed for family-owned and managed businesses with gross sales in excess of $5 million or more than 20 employees. The Forum was named for a 1932 UNH alumnus, Howard Penley, whose family owned the Penley Corporation in West Paris, Maine. Founded in 1928, the Penley Corporation manufactured wooden clothespins for over 80 years.

The Shapiro Forum for the Entrepreneurial Family was started in 1994 to provide a range of service to smaller family-owned businesses. The Shapiro Forum was founded by Irwin Muskat, then president of Jac Pac Foods in Manchester, in honor of his grandfather, Alex Shapiro, and uncle, Lester Shapiro, a 1938 UNH Alum. In 1930, Alex Shapiro began Jac Pac as a one-man business, peddling meat on the streets of Manchester. Over the years, the company spanned four generations of the Shapiro family and grew to more than 600 employees.

In 1997, recognizing that family owned businesses of all size experience the same dynamics and challenges, the two programs were combined under the UNH Center for Family Business name with all members attending meeting together. And today membership is open to all family businesses large and small in all industries. The Center for Family Business is now permanently housed in the new Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics which allows us to establish closer relationship with other outreach programs and faculty in the business school and to provide even greater resources to our members.

A separate but associated CEO Forum was initiated in 1997. The CEO Forum provides business leaders with an opportunity to meet with and learn from their peers in business and industry at five breakfast meetings throughout the year. Membership is limited to presidents, CEOs and business owners.

Michelline DufortAbout the Director of the
Center for Family Business and CEO Forum

Michelline Dufort is an experienced leader of industry associations and membership organizations. Through her proven track record of working with businesses, both family and corporate, she brings a wealth of knowledge on the dynamics and complexities involved and has built organizations to meet those needs and interests. This experience has enabled her to grow organizational membership by providing valuable benefits, innovative programming, and network-building opportunities for businesses and business leaders based on industry needs. She is excited to bring these skills to the Paul College of Business & Economics and to help grow the CFB and CEO Forum in membership, scope and offerings.

Prior to joining Paul College, Michelline served as the VP of Public Affairs and the Director of Business Relations for the NH High Tech Council where she grew revenues to a record level. She had oversight of membership, programming, development, sponsors, and events. She created new initiatives including TechWomen/TechGirls and the BioTech/MedTech Cluster.

As President of the Lodging and Restaurant Association, Michelline expanded member benefits, which led to significant growth of the Association.

In prior positions she managed advocacy initiatives in the energy and healthcare industries as well as launched an advocacy program at the NH Center for Nonprofits, increasing both membership and visibility for the organization.

For More Information

If you would like more information about the Center for Family Business and its programs, or if you know someone who is interested in joining, please contact the office at (603) 862-1107, or email:

For Membership Costs and Benefits and to Join Now, Click Here!

Meet our Board of Advisors and some of our Members! Click Here!

Peter T Paul College of Business


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