The Center from its Beginnings - Conway Center for Family Business

A Timeline

1998

The Family Business Center of Central Ohio is incorporated as a not-for-profit Ohio corporation. The founders include J. Richard "Dick" Emens and Bea Wolper.

1999

First Family Business Awards Program is held at Ohio Dominican University (ODU).

Conway Family Business Center Programs

2000

Ohio Dominican University offers to host the Center and the offer is accepted.

2003

The Center hires a Director.

2004

  • The Center moves into campus office space provided by ODU.
  • The first Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at Anthony Thomas Candy Company.
  • First Family Business Course is offered by the Business Department at Ohio Dominican University and taught by Bea Wolper and Dick Emens. Building, Operating and Passing on the Family Business.

2005

  • The second Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at Laser Reproductions.
  • The Maish Scholarship/Family Business Endowed Scholarship at Ohio Dominican University is established by Judy and Tom Maish, on behalf of their family. Mr. Maish was a long-standing Advisory Board Member of the Center.

2006

  • The Family Business Center creates its first peer group, Women in Family Business, for women in family-owned businesses. Bea Wolper launched the first meeting with a presentation entitled "Are You Getting the Respect You Deserve? Professional Advice for Women Family Business Leaders."
  • Jeremiah Guappone, was selected as the first recipient of the Maish Family Business Scholarship. Kara Hamilton was the second recipient. The third  recipient, chosen in 2012, is Michaela Liddane.
  • The third annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at The Ohio Fire Academy, a construction project of Center member R.W. Setterlin Building Company.

2007

  • The Center moves into Las Casas House at ODU.
  • James R. Conway, former owner of Marion Steel Co., pledges $1 million to the Family Business Center to support its continued efforts in helping Central Ohio family businesses grow, prosper and transition to the next generation.
  • The fourth annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at Corporate Interior Concepts.

2008

  • Thaddeus O'Brien, PhD conducts the first Next-Generation Peer Group, giving younger family business members opportunities to explore personal and professional leadership issues in a safe and supportive environment.
  • The name of the Center is changed to the Conway Family Business Center of Central Ohio to honor and show appreciation for Mr. Conway's generous gift.
  • The fifth annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at White Castle's home office.

2009

  • The sixth annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at the Charles Penzone Grand Salon on Polaris Parkway.
  • The first Family Business Night at the Columbus Clippers event is held at Huntington Park.
  • The first issue of The Family Business Communicator print newsletter is published and distributed to nearly 6,000 family businesses throughout Central Ohio.
  • The Conway Center has more than 90 family business members.

2010

  • The Center's name is changed to the Conway Center for Family Business to more clearly reflect the focus and purpose of the Center.
  • The seventh annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at Artina Promotional Products in Powell.
  • The 12th Annual Family Business Awards Program doubles attendance from 150 to 300 when it is changes locations and expands its recognition to include a Family Business of the Year.
  • The Conway Center has grown to 100 Family Business members.

2011

  • The eighth annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at Ricart Automotive.
  • The Center has over 100 members.

2012

2013

  • The Center conducts its first Family Business Economic Outlook Survey.
  • The tenth annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at Donatos Pizza, celebrating Donatos' 50th Anniversary.
  • Attendance grows to 425 at the 15th Annual Family Business Awards. An Expo is added to the event to showcase members' products and services. More than 50 companies participate in the first Expo.
  • The Center has over 150 members.

2014

  • Two new peer groups are added to meet the changing needs of members, bringing the total to 10.
  • The Conway Endowed Family Business Scholarship Fund at ODU is funded this year and will support and encourage growth and succession of family businesses in Central Ohio. Starting in fall 2015, Ohio Dominican University will award the Conway Scholarship to one first-year student every four years as long as the student meets the requirements of the scholarship. The Conway Scholarship is made possible by a generous gift to ODU from the James Conway Family
  • The first Conway Center Golf Outing is held at Little Turtle Golf Club. The event raised more than $10,000 to support educational programs at the Conway Center.
  • The eleventh Annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at Spartan Logistics.
  • Attendance at the 16th Annual Family Business Awards&Expo reaches nearly 500 as business and community leaders come together to celebrate family businesses in Central Ohio. More than 50 companies participate in the Expo.
  • The Conway Center has 170 members.

2015

  • The twelfth Annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Services.
  • Nearly 600 family business and community leaders attended the 17th Annual Family Business Awards & Expo. Over 60 companies participate in the Expo.
  • The 2nd Annual Golf Outing sells out and gets rained out!
  • The Center has nearly 200 members.

2016

  • We added a Succession Planning 2.0 quarterly peer group and the CEO Peer Group split into East & West. Peer Groups continue to be the heart of the Center.
  • The thirteenth Annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at Highlights for Children as they celebrate their 70th Anniversary.
  • The 18th Annual Family Business Awards & Expo continues to be very well received by family business and community leaders. The Expo generates high energy and excitement prior to the luncheon!
  • The 3rd Annual Golf Outing has a record number of teams and much better weather!
  • The Center has over 200 members.

2017

  • Two new Peer Groups: Ignite Your Family Business replaces the Business Development Peer Group and Emerging Leaders is formed for non-family member leaders.
  • The fourteenth Annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at Citcom.
  • The 19th Annual Family Business Awards & Expo continues to be our very well attended signature event.
  • The Centers moves to the Guzman House on the ODU campus.
  • The Center has over 200 members.

2018

  • We celebrated our 20th Anniversary with a Family Business Hall of Fame celebration in May. 20 family-owned businesses were inducted in the first-ever evening event held by the Center.
  • The fifteenth Annual Family Business Tour and Networking Event is held at Jet Container.
  • The 20th Annual Family Business Awards & Expo continues to be our very well attended signature event.
  • The Center has well over 200 members.

2019

  • To accurately represent the many educational offerings, the Center renamed the larger, less interactive peer group sessions “Family Business Forums.” These are typically larger groups that meet quarterly and include the formerly named Roundtable programs.
  • We launched a Women’ mentoring Program with an inaugural class of 30 family business mentors/mentees.
  • The Center updated and revamped the website.
  • The Family Business Tours were held at Sutphen and Robin Enterprises.
  • Two new Advisory Board members joined in 2019: Chris Converse, Converse Electric and Laurie McEnery, MAC Construction.
  • Michael Schoedinger of Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service and Steve Conway of Nucor Steel Marion joined the Board of Trustees.
  • The Center has over 200 members.

2020

  • COVID – 19 meant a pivot to online programming and no in-person events: golf outing was cancelled, no Family Business Tours, and the Awards program will be held virtually.
  • Bea Wolper is named President by the Board of Trustees; Dick Emens remains on as Chairman.
  • The Center continues to thrive and has over 200 members.
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