Next month, multi-generational family business leaders will convene at FGCU to hear from a world-famous speaker and local entrepreneurs. As the vice president and vice provost of strategy and program innovation and a member of the Regional Economic Research Institute at FGCU, Aysegul Timur knows FGCU is the perfect partner for this conference. Successful business leaders are well-positioned to relate personal experiences about the concepts our world-class faculty deliver in courses on business and entrepreneurship. Collaborating on ventures with local leaders provides students with relatable local success stories from which to learn.
To that end, FGCU will host the second annual Resnick-Wynn Family Business Conference in the Cohen Student Union Ballroom March 3.
Conference organizers John and Billie Resnick of The Resnick Group and Michael Wynn (’05, masters of business administration) run successful family businesses in Southwest Florida. The conference will provide attendees with the knowledge to innovate and prosper within their family businesses. FGCU students will benefit through greater access to case studies in the classroom.
The global successes of high-profile conference speakers can be adapted to Southwest Florida through the business leaders in attendance. According to Timur, who holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business administration, business titans like Steve Forbes in 2022 and Alan Hassenfeld in 2023 deliver keynote addresses on “the good, the bad and the ugly” of running a family business. The conference speakers and panelists share their perspectives, successes, failures and proven strategies to overcome the unique challenges faced by family businesses.
Wynn, an FGCU Board of Trustees member, knows all about those unique challenges. As chairperson of Wynn Companies and president of Sunshine Ace Hardware in Naples, he understands that family businesses have challenges beyond those faced in every industry.
“I’ve experienced those sleepless nights and felt the pressure of deciding when you have to be family first or business first,” Wynn says. “Only 13% of family businesses survive into the third generation.”
With the Resnicks, Wynn envisioned an annual conference in Southwest Florida to meet the needs of family businesses like theirs. He sees FGCU as a singular convener for the region, which is already reshaping the workforce for the future. A conference where entrepreneurs and business leaders can network and learn will help drive future regional success.
“Our hope over time is FGCU can use the information shared at the conference as case studies and research projects,” Wynn says. He expects FGCU students – the next generation of their own family businesses or current entrepreneurs and business majors – to attend the conference.
Meaningful conversations happen at the conference, on the stage among the panelists and during networking and breakout sessions. Conference organizers expect those conversations will translate to leadership lessons and a shared understanding of business successes and failures.
This year’s keynote speaker is Alan Hassenfeld, former chairperson and CEO of Hasbro Toys – a business his family started in 1923.
“He’ll share key struggles and successes of their 100-year journey,” Wynn said and notes the success and longevity of family businesses are tied to leadership, which Hassenfeld will attest to at the conference.
Timur expects learning from the conference will continue after it ends, when the recordings of the keynote address and panel talks will be used internally by FGCU faculty to benefit students. Timur wants FGCU to be seen as the Southwest Florida destination for family business success case studies. Later this year, the university will launch the FGCU Academic Journal in Family Business Case Studies. One goal of the journal will be to identify elements that lead to business success or failure and generational sustainability.
Tickets for the second annual Resnick-Wynn Family Business Conference can be purchased on the event website.