Tag Archives: Family Business

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 19, 2021

Contact: Stella Premo, Executive Director
Capital Region Family Business Center
spremo@capfamilybus.org
(916) 771‐3220

Northern California’s Largest Family Business Organization Announces New Board Leadership

Third Generation Business Leader Elected President

Sacramento, CACapital Region Family Business Center (FBC) is pleased to announce the election of Maggie Bender‐Johnson as board president and Justin Horner as vice president. Ms. Bender‐Johnson’s role as president signals a continued emphasis on the organization’s growth in serving Northern California family‐owned businesses in the Sacramento region.

Bender‐Johnson, president of Bender Insurance Solutions in Roseville, has been active in the organization for several years. As a member of her family’s third generation in the business, Maggie possesses unique insight and understands the distinctive challenges that often accompany rising to the top of family business leadership.

“Capital Region Family Business Center has been a significant resource for our family’s business, and I’m so honored to serve the board in this role. FBC and its members have played a critical role in supporting my journey as a next generation family business leader, and as a leader in our community. I hope to inspire other ‘Next Gens’ to lean into their own development and to leverage their FBC peer relationships to further their family businesses,” remarked Bender‐Johnson.

Bender‐Johnson’s term follows that of Stephen Fleming, president and CEO of River City Bank, who led the organization to unprecedented growth, hitting the 100‐member mark in 2019.

“I am delighted to hand the baton to Maggie to lead Family Business Center’s Board of Directors. As an active member for many years, she has contributed to tremendous growth in membership and quality programming. As a senior executive with one of our members, she has a deep understanding of our membership and the programming which will be most impactful,” Fleming commented.

Joining Bender‐Johnson as a board officer is Justin Horner who will serve as vice president in addition to chairing the Generations Conference, slated for January 19‐20, 2022. The two‐day conference in Sacramento will bring together family businesses from across Northern California for lectures, workshops, team building, and networking. Mr. Horner’s leadership experience will be instrumental in building out the programs and ensuring the conference’s overall success.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of FBC since 2015 and I’m looking forward to expanding on that commitment. Family‐owned businesses are the job‐creating economic backbone for our community, and I’m excited to play a supporting role in our members’ strength, prosperity, and continuity,” said Horner.

Family businesses are the lifeblood of California’s economy, accounting for 66 percent of the state’s GDP and employing 64 percent of its workforce. While these businesses have a tremendous impact, little from a traditional business model translates to the unique dynamics of working for and alongside family members. FBC seeks to fill that void through inventive programming that offers education, peer support and networking.

“I look forward to working alongside Maggie and Justin to reinforce FBC’s mission and vision while serving and growing our membership,” added Stella Premo, executive director for Capital Region Family Business Center.

Current members include such notable companies as Flyers Energy, Green Acres Nursery & Supply, Mikuni, Nugget Markets, Raley’s Family of Fine Stores, River City Bank, Sacramento River Cats, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Teichert.

Board members are charged with providing direction on events, programs and topics that are timely priorities for family businesses. Events are often led by Technical Advisors, experts in the fields most pertinent to family businesses such as tax, wealth management, business management. The roster of current technical advisors includes such companies such as Wells Fargo, CAPTRUST (formerly Genovese Burford & Brothers) and HUB International, Inc.

The organization’s events include the annual Generations Family Business Conference, quarterly affinity group meetings on topics specifically geared for CEOs, ‘Next Gen’ leaders and women in business, bi‐annual half‐day family business forums that tackle common issues and challenges, and periodic social outings that bring families together for networking and fun.

For more information on FBC, visit CapFamilyBus.org.

Capital Region Family Business Center is one of the largest family business centers in the country, offering special educational workshops, round‐table discussion groups and relationship‐building social events. Its mission is to promote growth and prosperity for all family businesses in the greater Sacramento region, the guiding focus of its strategy.

In 1918, Woodrow Wilson was our president, Daylight Saving Time was enacted, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, World War I ended, and a Cal graduate named Ralph Gorrill purchased some acreage along Butte Creek from the Leland Stanford estate.  Teaming up with colleague Ernest Adams, the two set off on learning the rice industry and Ralph was able to establish a farm that would survive political, economic and family challenges.  Now a small yet prominent grower of rice and orchard crops, Gorrill Ranch is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary as a thriving family-owned business.

To honor the occasion, fourth generation Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board Correen Davis, along with her family board and the company’s CEO, is organizing both a business community and private family celebration to recognize the family members, employees, industry representatives, community members, vendors and customers that have propelled the business along its history.  Said Davis, “Our family culture is not one to wave a flag.  But we recognize that it’s been a journey to get to this point and we want to celebrate the family, employees, industry, community, vendors and customers that have worked together through the economic times, political climates and regulatory changes that have shaped the business.  We are coming from a place of humility; we understand that we just happen to be the ones here at this time at the helm in this amazing industry.”

Now employing 25 people and selling to customers such as Sunsweet and Blue Diamond, Gorrill is as respected as ever in California agriculture.  As part of the Centennial, the family is hoping to have the ranch recognized by the Agriculture Heritage Club as a historical business.  For the application process, Davis has been digging through the family’s files and has found, among others, a plethora of deeds, ledgers and tax forms that are reinforcing her understanding and appreciation of the family members that came before her.  “One hundred years ago, my great grandfather Ralph designed the irrigation system, an extraordinarily efficient, all-gravity fed system that we still use today.”

Before Ralph’s passing in 1964, he had the foresight to bring his three daughters into the fold.  The sisters ultimately opted to hire outside ranch management but continued to be intimately involved in investments and daily operations.  Not common in the industry at that time, the sisters created a governance structure that included family members as board members.  Still in place at the company today, the system is a testament to their legacy as women in agriculture.

Now as the fourth generation, Davis plus her 12 cousins and second cousins, begins to think about how to involve the next, succession planning and governance continue to be at the forefront of their work.  “My dad’s sister, Aunt Nancy, taught me that, if our goal is for family to retain ownership, we need to always present opportunities for them to become involved, educated and knowledgeable.”

Nancy also spearheaded the family’s relationship with FBC, turning to the organization to learn about dynamics between generations and how to manage the farm from a governance perspective.  Now working on a board comprising G3s and G4s, the family has attended FBC events and seminars and been willing to work through the ‘push/pull’ that occurs when transitioning from one generation to the next.

Gorrill’s Centennial coincides with Davis’ 10th anniversary at the company.  “During my first few years here, when I discovered what it’s really like to work with family, FBC was instrumental.  They made me feel like I wasn’t alone in our struggles as a family business.  I now know that we’re all dealing with the same issues.”

Since then, Davis has sat on a couple of panels with Nancy and brought extended family members to governance trainings.  She regularly communicates FBC literature and newsletter content to her business partners.  In fact, directly through the governance models discovered through FBC, the family elected its first two non-family board members in 2017.

With their help, the family hopes to weather the sometimes adversarial business climate in California.  Through highly-valued relationships, the company has been able to thrive in the agriculture industry, which is closely tied to environmental regulations and responsibility.  Remarked Davis, “Farmers are the true environmentalists.  After all, our intent is to maintain our land so that we can continue to grow for the next generation.  By partnering with regulators, we can begin to understand each other and have a higher chance for success.”  In fact, by partnering with fellow farmers, water districts, non-profits and government agencies, the Gorrill Ranch completed the Gorrill Ranch Fish Screen and Ladder project in 1999 which was part of a larger effort on Butte Creek to restore 25 miles of unimpeded flows along the middle reaches of Butte Creek for the benefit of migrating spring-run Chinook Salmon.  This project comprises one of the nation’s most significant fisheries restoration efforts to date.

As a high school English teacher right out of college, Davis never imagined herself as part of the family business.  “My father passed away when I was 20 so we never had the chance to have the conversation.  The family business was never even on my radar.”  But with farming in her blood and the mentorship of strong women in the family, she says she has now found her ‘calling’ and recognizes her role as an honor and opportunity to be a steward of the business.

DCA Partners logo
Capital Cup, sponsored by DCA Partners, is just around the corner and got us to thinking about our core values of collaboration and prosperity. We agree that giving back and doing good in our region is essential for the health of the community as a whole, and for the business to stay connected to those it serves. In our talk with DCA Partners about their upcoming event, we discussed the benefits being philanthropic offers a business. Curt Rocca, Managing Partner, shares below why DCA chooses to give back in the way that they do.

Philanthropy to me, by its very nature, means not looking for anything in return.  So, if the philanthropic endeavors that we are involved with have some underlying benefit to our business, that’s great, but I can tell you that we do not think of it that way, and we don’t make decisions about which organizations to support based upon their ability to provide benefits to DCA.

This community has been very good to us. We recognize that others have not necessarily been as fortunate as we have, typically through no fault of their own, so giving back seems natural, and candidly —  it just feels good!  That said, the Capital Cup has been good for all of the participants’ businesses. I believe we all now have a broader, deeper and more meaningful relationship with over 20 local like minded business leaders, and that’s got to be a good thing for everyone involved. More importantly for me, I feel like I have established several new friendships that I likely would never have had absent the Capital Cup.

Collaboration, networking, and shared interests is obviously a big part of my work at DCA, as is the work of other business leaders in the FBC. Because of this I attend many events to connect with various groups of people. The Idea for the Capital Cup came one day when I was asked to play in a golf tournament to support a wonderful cause, but I had neither the time to play in yet-another golf tournament, nor the excess financial resources to support it in a meaningful way. It had always struck me as odd and unfortunate how inefficient the non-profit fundraising world seemed to be, with hundreds of them dedicating the time and resources to plan, organize and execute a golf tournament that typically yielded $20,000 to $30,000 (or less) for the supported organization.

Those people have important work to do in their organizations, and that just simply seemed like an ineffective use of their time. I wondered then if we could pull off one big golf tournament where we could play and have an opportunity to support a cause we each were most passionate about. And, in doing so play a role in supporting these 20-25 different organizations without the charities’ personnel having to be wildly distracted from their more-important functions.

It really was a very selfish concept when you cut right to it—  it allowed me to save a bunch of time, golf and spend time with a great group of local business leaders, and feel good about helping to support dozens more organizations than I would otherwise have had an opportunity to support.

The Ryder Cup format was the perfect platform to build this concept around, and thus the Capital Cup was born. It is truly an example of effective collaboration. It never would have been possible without the great early adopters like Kerry Gordon and Steve Fleming, who quick to jump in and offered me the confidence to move forward with the concept.

The first year out I nervously set a target of $150,000, and we somehow raised nearly $350,000. Last year I was concerned that we were never going to be able to surpass that first year’s success, and we blew past it raising over $750,000. This year we’re feeling more aggressive and shooting for a cool $1million. I’m excited to see what we can do together and all that we can accomplish to support our regional community.

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Dear Members,

Capital Region Family Business Center (FBC) programs are all centered around our mission to help Family Businesses grow and prosper. This is accomplished by providing unique networking opportunities where you can dialogue with each other, tackle difficult issues, and share in each other’s successes. The programs that we offer represent a set of core values that reflect the mission, vision, and direction of the FBC. Those values are:

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