UToledo Family Business Center

About the Center

The University of Toledo Family Business Center, like the family businesses it supports, has the benchmarks for success.

First there’s history. Founded in 1992, the Center passed its 25-year anniversary with no signs of diminishing in its mission. And speaking of Mission, that was clear from the first: to provide support specifically designed for family businesses — places that have a special dynamic, one not always served by traditional “best practices” advice. Family dynamics impact family business; the UToledo Family Business Center makes that the core of its mission. They use those dynamics as the springboard for the Connectivity that members find so useful. Providing inspired venues for Networking between family businesses is what the Center does best, and what members say they appreciate most. Small affinity groups provide maximum effectiveness, allowing family businesses to meet others who speak their language.

Why did the Center come about? In part, it was an educated guess. In the early 1990s, predictions pointed to family businesses as the future of the region’s economic development.

It was an accurate assessment; those businesses have become the backbone of the regional economy. Family businesses make up a large part of those success engines. Thanks to a Stranahan Foundation challenge grant, the UToledo Family Business Center was able to create an environment for genuine sharing between family businesses, strengthening their assets and creating relationships.

The commitment to the special challenges of a family business is visible in the Center’s Advisory Board, made up of family business people. They keep the focus user-friendly. Though education is an important advantage for members — given The University of Toledo’s impressive credentials — the emphasis remains on family business owners. It’s Relational, not theoretical.

It’s also successful, with nearly 200 current members. In five years, company membership grew 46 percent.  Those members’ 85 percent Participation Rate proves the deep level of engagement they find with the center. Members’ time is a precious commodity; they wouldn’t invest it if they didn’t see a worthwhile return. Obviously they do.

Such member satisfaction is no fluke. The UToledo Family Business Center’s Leadership is matched by its Innovation. When the center was founded in 1992, there were seven university-based centers like it; now there are well over 100. It’s hardly a wonder that the UToledo Center for Family Business is such a well-lauded success. Like a good family business, it’s driven by people-sized, attainable goals; quality, effectiveness, and longevity. 

Hear from some of our founding members about the foundation of the Center and the impact it's had today. 

Purpose (mission) of the Center

The University of Toledo Family Business Center is a premier resource for family businesses fostering education and connections.

Core Values

  1.  Member-driven. As our most important stakeholders, we want our members to be actively engaged in the activities of the Center, including participation and leadership at all levels in support of the Center's strategic goals.

  2. Open Learning Environment. Trust fosters learning. The Center is committed to providing a confidential and non-competitive environment allowing members a secure setting in which to learn and grow as family business leaders.

  3. Healthy Family Relationships. The Center strives to promote and encourage healthy processes, including open communication, focused and deliberate planning, and a respect of individuality.  

  4. Collaborative Community Partner. We are committed to being a contributing factor in the regional economic and community development.

  5. Mutually beneficial relationship with The University of Toledo. We will utilize our platform and connections to provide opportunities that impact student's academic experiences and aid in faculty development while leveraging the brand and resources of the University to the benefit of the regional family business community.  


"Joining the Center has been one of our best decisions. Being fairly new to the area, the networking and personal connections to other like-minded professionals have been invaluable. It's an incredible relief knowing that there are others who struggle with similar issues." Todd Hendricks, Pioneer Industrial Systems, member since 2013

"The Center has been a valuable resource for me personally, and for my business. The women's group and the senior group have given me insight to more effective strategies in succession planning, personal relationships with 'human resources,' while also expanding the contacts I can use for later referral, if needed. We are so lucky to have this organization in our community!" Laurie Gross, Gross Electric, founding member since 1993.


Last Updated: 6/27/22