Tag Archives: Sacramento


Contact: Stella Premo, Executive Director
Capital Region Family Business Center
(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.
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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Summertime in Sacramento means fireworks at the River Cats, celebrations, and of course, a brightly lit Fourth of July. We recently caught up with Nancy Gilfillan, daughter of the late Founder Robert Souza at Pyro Spectaculars , Inc. to learn more about how they make this all happen, and what it takes to remain at the top of the industry in this market.
Q . So tell us, have you always enjoyed playing with fire?

A. To be honest, by nature I’m a really big chicken! I never fantasized about playing with fire and from an early age I was taught to respect it. My father taught us the importance of keeping a safe distance and to always have the water bucket and a hose nearby.

Q. What was your very first job, and how did it go?

A. I wasn’t groomed to be in the business full time, and I have been a Registered Nurse for 41 years. I’m grateful to have my nursing career as to well as share some time in our family business working on special projects, taking on the role of providing support to my husband and family members. My father provided us with early exposure to the business and allowed us to do many tasks. In the late 1960’s early ‘70’s the business included consumer and display fireworks. I have memories of working on an assembly line putting together firework packets, answering phones, cleaning the office, building set pieces and most fun of all, working in firework stands.

Since then my role has shifted. For the past 20 years I’ve been responsible for coordination of crew for the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks show in New York City and I work hand-in-hand with my brother, Gary Souza. We have 50 crew members from all over the country working so I handle the travel accommodations and day to day comfort needs for our crew during the two week set-up.  Even though I hold a license to handle firework materials, I spend most of my talents behind the scenes.

Q. What’s the biggest misconception people have about pyrotechnics?

A. People often say: “oh you only work one day out of the year!” but that’s absolutely not true. It’s a year round business; there is very little downtime. Our busiest seasons are the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve but we do provide fireworks for many celebrations throughout the state year-round. Some of our displays can be seen at events from high school homecoming shows, weddings, major and minor league baseball games and several Olympic Games. We are also active with the American Pyrotechnic Association and attend two major conferences each year.

Q. How long does it take to set up a show?

A. Our smallest show, one that will last for just five minutes like at a Homecoming, takes an afternoon to set up. Our Macy’s show, which goes for 30 minutes, takes 14 days to set up following a year of planning. This year the Macy’s Fourth of July show will be set up on five barges in the East River, and it’s life telecast so it has a little more pressure than usual.

Q.  Your Dad left a real legacy for you and your siblings; what core values did he lead with as a you learned from him?

A.  My father was able to teach us about integrity, community and what it means to have a good work ethic.  He grew his business through quality work, reputation, and by always exceeding expectations. The company grew exponentially over the years as a result, and he remained a true leader who always had his hands and heart on the business and kept his family and employees closely involved.

Q. You’ve been in business here for many years now; what do you think it is about your Family Business that keeps people coming back every year?

A. As owners, my two brothers and our spouses have shared family values that include respect, integrity and honesty. We have 60 employees and many operators and crew that work as independent contractors. We treat our employees like family and that culture that results in low turnover. As far as customers, we have a long history of safety and dedication to providing a good product. When we do this well, our customers return. I am proud to be a part of the team that makes people ooh, ah, and smile.

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