Executive Directors Letter to Membership – June 2019

Dear Members,

Board President, Steve Fleming and Executive Director, Stella Premo.

It’s an exciting time at FBC! Just since January, we have grown by 13 new family business members. This growth has created the opportunity to launch an Ambassador Program to help orient our new members to the benefits, activities and events at FBC.

Please help me welcome our new FBC Ambassadors and, when you see them, thank them for their efforts to sustain a robust Family Business Center.

• Nancy Gilfillan, Pyro Spectacular
• Tyler Deary, NorCal Beverages
• Nathan Boyce, BFBA
• Eric Burger, Burger Rehabilitation
• Ryan Beatie, Holt of CA
• Kelsey Monroe, Holt of CA

If you would like to join them and become an FBC Ambassador, or if you would like to help us with membership recruitment, please reach out to me. A growing organization means more family businesses helping others with their unique challenges such as succession planning, the theme of this month’s newsletter.

Stella Premo and Dinger hanging out at last years Family Night at the River Cats!

In addition, we are very happy to see that there is a vibrancy to our events. If you haven’t been to an FBC event recently, please plan to join us and meet other family business members at FBC Family Night with the River Cats at Raley Field on July 26. This year, we’ve chosen a Friday night so that we can enjoy the post-game fireworks show presented by fellow FBC member Pyro Spectaculars.

The Generations Committee is currently seeking family business members to help guide programming for the April 2-3, 2020 Generations Conference breakout sessions. The committee meets once a month between now and April and the input from family businesses is critical for us to provide the highest quality programs for our members. Will you join us?

Stella Premo – Executive Director
Capital Region Family Business Center

President’s Letter to Leadership – June 2019

Dear Members,

Stephen Fleming, River City Bank

I’m happy to greet you at the midpoint of what is shaping up to be a banner year for FBC. After adding several new family business members in January, they have begun integrating themselves through our Affinity Groups and Spring Family Forum which had the highest number of attendees yet. As we all know, a larger and more diverse membership generates new programs, better connections and greater resources for us all.

We are looking ahead to Generations 2020 which, the planning committee tells me, could feature a change in format and record attendance. Be sure to mark your calendars for April 2-3, 2020 and note the change of venue – Sheraton Grand Sacramento – as the Sacramento Convention Center continues its renovation. Our post-2019 Generations conference survey showed that attendees continue to be hungry for information on succession and the importance of planning.

This newsletter features Ashley Gill Rossi from Green Acres who shares her perspective on their family business. And, we also have a spotlight on fellow Board Member, Gina Lera. As the Chair of the Programs Committee for many years, Gina has been instrumental in guiding the quality programming our members enjoy.

As you read along, perhaps with your children and grandchildren in mind, I wish you a restful and fun-filled summer with family and friends, and look forward to seeing you at FBC’s summer social at the River Cats’ game at Raley Field on July 26th.

Steve Fleming | President/CEO | River City Bank
Board President

Technical Advisor Spotlight | Lera Tiberini

Lera Tiberini logo




An estate plan isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if it isn’t technically efficient and effective.  Attorney Gina Lera, along with her partner Kelly Tiberini, is a principal at Lera Tiberini and a sought-after expert on estate planning and trust administration.  Together they have over 30 years of experience in the area of estates and trusts.


Lera is a long standing board member of the FBC and Chairs the Programs + Events Committee. She has spearheaded much of the programming over the past several years and has helped recreate and engage the current committee. Under her leadership, FBC has become a trusted source of information on many issues that confront family owned businesses. With laws changing, varying state by state, and businesses changing hands from generation to generation, information on succession and how it affects estate planning is always welcomed by our members.

“Gina truly has extensive knowledge on the subject, experience in the organization and with our members, and a thorough understanding of how family businesses work, making her an invaluable asset to FBC,” commented FBC Executive Director Stella Premo.

Gina can be reached via LeraTiberini.com.


Member Spotlight | Green Acres Nursery & Supply

Most people would be grateful for a gift of a new car of college tuition on their 18th birthday. Ashley Gill Rossi was gifted a career. In 2003, with his children in mind, her father Mark, then a seasoned but recently unemployed retail garden center business professional, drafted the business plan and secured investors for what would become Green Acres Nursery.  Brother Travis had an interest in business, Ashley saw herself pursuing marketing and entrepreneurship and both recognized a good opportunity. After learning the business by working up the ranks, Ashley now handles the company’s marketing and business development, construction facilitation of new locations, and e-commerce projects, especially challenging because of shipping and perishable nature of the goods they sell. Travis runs Green Acres’ operations, improvements and mechanization and Matsuda’s, the growing operation acquired after the death of iconic Sacramento gardener Don Matsuda in 2013.

As the business has grown – the local empire now owns and operates five retail locations – attorneys and advisors have guided purchases and acquisitions to respect the Gill family’s wishes of keeping the business in the bloodline. Mark’s plan of growth, adding and diversifying assets whenever possible, owned by the family and not the business, is to secure the business’ success and longevity.

Since Mark is nowhere near retiring, the family’s succession plan is still taking shape.  “Dad doesn’t think there’s much to do, but we do. I know his style is not to hand us a finished document. I would welcome it, but I know it’s for my brother and me to figure out.  FBC really helps us with those generational differences,” commented Ashley.

All three plus their CFO and other employees attended last year’s Generations Conference specifically for the solid technical information and camaraderie and support from family businesses in similar situations. “For the most part, we are newer and younger so hearing stories from fourth and fifth generations reinforces that there are many right ways to do things. We just need to find the way that’s right for us.”

The NextGen and Women’s Affinity Groups are of particular interest to Ashley. She especially enjoys interacting with FBC members because they understand the importance of supporting local businesses that are providing jobs.

Although the eldest of the third generation of the Gill family is just starting kindergarten, passing the business on to them is always in the back of the family’s mind.  To accomplish that, Ashley and Travis want “to learn as much as I can from my dad every day. He’s the visionary, architect and managing member. I need to pick up what I can.”

Save the Date: GENERATIONS 2020

Save the date and plan to attend the 4th Annual Generations Conference at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to network with and learn from the leaders of family businesses from across our region and the country. This year’s conference will provide cutting-edge education, collaborative networking and unique social events to help you grow, manage, operate or transition your business – keeping the unique dynamics and needs of family businesses in mind.

Our action-packed day-and-a-half schedule will put you up front and center with our impressive roster of keynote speakers and presenters who can provide real-life insight into what can create success and longevity. Do you want to get involved? Become a sponsor or a presenter! Find out how below.

Call for Presentations 2020 is going on now!

If you have expertise on topics such as succession, estate planning, governance, business development and leadership and would like to apply to host a keynote or breakout session, please connect with Generations Chair Amber Holwell or find more about our presentation guidelinespast speakers and sponsors, and submit your proposal hereWe encourage out-of-the-box thinking and interactive learning! Proposal deadline: July 26.

Secure your spot as a Generations 2020 Sponsor!

Support family business and become a Generations 2020 sponsor. Conference sponsors will get their business names and brands in front of registrants, FBC’s membership and their guests, expected to reach record numbers this year. Contact Jamie Berry to learn about sponsorship opportunities now available or download a sponsorship information packet here.

Check out the Generations 2019 Recap article with photos!


Founder, President & CEO Affinity Group Meeting Recap

Founders, Presidents and CEOs met on March 28  at Bender Insurance Solutions to learn more about how company leadership came to the decision to transition the 80-year-old family business to an ESOP.

Bender Insurance Solutions CEO, Steve Bender, and President, Maggie Bender Johnson, detailed how the leadership team researched, evaluated and eventually decided to make the move from a family-owned business to an ESOP, along with their heartfelt reasons for doing so.

The presentation focused not only on the specifics of making such an ownership transition, but also the timing of such a move and its impact on company culture. Key to the decision was the dedication and commitment of the company’s many long-time employees and their role in the organization’s continued growth and success.

The family will continue their family-business legacy and influence from their respective leadership roles within the organization, while celebrating the growth of the Bender insurance “family”.

A big thank you to Bender Insurance Solutions and Fat’s Roseville for providing the afternoon refreshments and appetizers.

The next Founder, President & CEO Affinity Group meeting is May 22 and the topic is on leveraging your brand.  Click here to find out more and register!

Family Business Forum | Spring 2019

The 2019 Spring Family Business Forum, The Family Board Roadmap: How to Establish & Maintain a High-Performance Family Board, took place at Del Paso Country Club on Tuesday, April 23. A crowded room of almost 100 family business members gathered around the topic of family governance. The half-day program, coordinated by Tim Schultz of Lundberg Family Farms and Don Yee of NACD illustrated the complexity of building a family business board.

There are many aspects of governance every family business needs to consider, whether they have a board in place, or they are looking to establish one.  Here are a few that were discussed:

  • How to attain a high functioning board?
  • When does a family business need to form a board?
  • Should a board have non-family directors?
  • How do you create a board that will guide your family businesses into the next generation?
  • How often should board meetings be held?
  • How do you keep family members engaged?

    Chris Chediak, Kurt Glassman, Jim Clarke, Mark Mariani

Our family business presenters discussed their successes as well as their struggles and tribulations regarding this process.  It was insightful hearing the real-life stories and situations that our members have experienced, learned from and were able to share with us at the event.

The day started with a general session and then divided into two breakout sessions followed by lunch and closing general session. In the “Getting Started” breakout, the group learned the important role a board can play in facilitating transitions from one generation to the next.  Some of the legal responsibilities of being a board member were discussed, as were attributes of great board members.  Also addressed were the importance of having clear roles and responsibilities for the entire board of directors, the CEO and board chairman, as well as important things for the board to monitor to assure high business performance. Panelists also discussed when to consider bringing in outside board members (gasp!), and the right balance of independent and family directors.

Bill Carriere, Carin Robinson, Don Yee

In the “Revving Up” breakout the group focused on how to identify and select the best family and non-family independent directors for a family business board, learned about approaches to deliver performance feedback to the directors so the board can operate better, and discussed how to compensate board directors for their service.

Nicolaus Nut Company: George Nicolaus, Connie Nicolaus and Cassi Crowley.


A highlight of the  program was the member-to-member openness and sharing. Hearing the first-hand stories from Bill Carriere, Carriere Family Farms, Mark Mariani, Mariani Packing Co., and Steve Fleming, River City Bank really resonated with attendees. Attendees also got to hear from Technical Advisors who offered their expertise and provided insight into best practices.

Learning from family business peers is so impactful. Up next will be the Fall Family Forum coming in October 2019, keep a look out for date and speaker announcements this summer.

Click HERE to see photos from the event.

If you are a member of FBC and would like copies of the PowerPoint slides from this program, please send a request to jbernel@capfamilybus.org.

Look what attendees had to say about the Spring Family Business Forum:

“Appreciate the honesty of speakers. Lots of great take-a-ways. The ability to interact and ask questions with the speakers is so important”

“Very informative.  Premature for our company, but we are able to pull from these topics and have conversations on how to improve our current course of business meetings and activities.”

“Received a lot of valuable information on starting a board and making it work.”

Women’s Affinity Group Meeting Recap | All Weather Architectural Aluminum

The Women’s Affinity Group recently convened at All Weather Architectural Aluminum, a manufacturer of aluminum windows and doors for commercial and high-end residential in Vacaville, for an onsite tour of the facility and a presentation by the third generation family business. Sisters Anne and Sarah, along with their mother Maria, hosted the group. Topics of discussion included transitioning leadership from the second generation to the third, as well as frank talk of the daily trials, challenges and opportunities inherent in running a family business. 

All Weather, like many family businesses, has a long history of success.  Upon graduation from college and graduate school, the four Porter grandchildren – Anne, Sarah and brothers Tom and Seamus – returned to Vacaville to lend their expertise to the family business, started by their grandfather.  Anna, a natural leader and now serves as chairman of the board and the keeper of the most detailed product knowledge.  With an MBA, Sarah is the self-proclaimed communicator of the family, managing various technological projects for the business.  Seamus puts his engineering and law degrees to use by developing new products and assisting with litigation when it arises.  Accountant Tom manages the finances for All Weather’s related businesses.

Inside the AWAA showroom.

Now as third generation and equal co-owners of All Weather, the siblings have a successful story of transition to share. After counsel received through FBC, the family decided to hire a non-family CEO, a move the siblings are quick to tout. The siblings meet weekly to discuss strategic issues and their roles and responsibilities within the organization are fluid, changing to support the business as needed.

A primary take-away from the meeting is the idea that owners do not necessarily need to occupy a position on the org chart – non-traditional roles and functions outside the org chart can be highly productive and effective with regular, transparent communication and mutual respect.

President’s Letter to Leadership – March 2019

Dear Members,

Stephen Fleming, River City Bank, FBC Board President

Well, we did it! I’m beyond pleased to announce that the FBC has acquired its 100th member, plus a few more. There’s no doubt in my mind that our quality programming and dynamic outreach, especially since Executive Director Stella Premo has taken the reins, has allowed us to meet this goal that was set by the Membership Committee. Special thanks to Kevin Fat (Fat Family Restaurants) who chairs the Membership Committee, along with each of the members of the Membership Committee, for playing a key leadership role in this effort.

It shouldn’t go unnoticed that we saw seven family businesses react favorably to the programming at the 2019 Generations Conference by committing to join our membership on the spot. More than once, we heard that a keynote or breakout speaker had touched on an issue that was a current concern in our new members’ businesses – more proof that the information exchanged at Generations is positively affecting the professional and personal lives of our members.

Speaking of Generations, Amber Holwell (River City Bank), her co-chair Justin Horner (DCA Capital Partners), and the rest of the Generations Conference team, must be congratulated for planning and executing another great event. As a firm believer in this organization, and leader of a family business myself, it is always a joy for me to see members from diverse businesses and industries from across the region interacting with each other and receiving the support they need to thrive. Details for Generations 2020, an event you won’t want to miss, will be announced shortly.

Happy Spring,

Steve Fleming | President/CEO | River City Bank
Board President