Founded in 1991, we operate with a simple mission: to educate business families. We remain a vibrant learning community and a trusted source of research, education and outreach. Among the first of our kind, we maintain the unique approach of partnering with a university to match practical educational tools with trusted scholarship and leading research.
- practical tools to help you make important decisions today
- a community of support that understands your needs
- connections to other members of the family business community
- a trusted and safe environment to explore challenging family issues
We are a vibrant community of business families, students, researchers and advisers. Committed to multi-generational success in business and families, we offer:
- Family Business Breakfast Series
- Family Business Governance, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and Financial Basics courses through our Ownership Academy
- Roundtable peer groups for owning and next generation family members
- Adviser education through our Adviser Engagement Luncheon Series
- Family Business concentration through the Opus College of Business
Harry McNeely and Gerald Rauenhorst, both members of the Board of Trustees at the University of St. Thomas, founded the Family Business Center to promote family business research and educational outreach for business families in the Twin Cities and beyond. They were inspired to do so because of the first-rate education that the younger generations of their own business families were receiving at places such as Wharton. Believing that this type of business knowledge should be available locally, they decided to create an organization dedicated to local business families, providing actionable solutions backed by rigorous scholarship.
Today, the Family Business Center hosts more than 140 families at its breakfast series alone. All companies are business families, meaning a family member has either an ownership stake or managerial control of a significant portion of the business, and is interested in passing the business along to his or her heirs. Families come from a variety of industries, and range from less than $1M in annual revenue, to hundreds of millions. Families do not need a previous connection to St. Thomas to join our community.
Ritch Sorenson, Ph.D.
Opus Endowed Chair in Family Business
Ritch Sorenson is a full professor and teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in family business management at the University of St. Thomas. He was an early pioneer in establishing family business education. He continues to develop new courses and a new concentration in family business. Dr. Sorenson is an associate editor for Family Business Review, the premier journal in family business, and he publishes research in top management journals. In 2008, he led the development of a unique series of conferences at the University of St. Thomas about “family capital” in family business. In addition to his duties at the university, he is an active participant in many professional organizations including the Family Firm Institute, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and the Academy of Management.
Jon Keimig plans the Family Business Breakfast Series, Adviser Engagement Luncheon Series and peer groups, and is your resource for questions about the Family Business Center and it’s offerings. Keimig became the director of the Family Business Center in 2016 after spending three years at the University of St. Thomas, both working in the Family Business Center and Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. In 2017, Keimig earned the Certification in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute. Previous to St. Thomas, he worked at a college in Iowa and spent time as a television news reporter in Wisconsin and Iowa. He earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and received his first paycheck from a Minnesota family business.
Mary Schmid Daugherty, Ph.D.
Associate professor of finance
David Deeds, Ph.D.
Director, Morrison Center for Entrepreneurship; Schulze Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Entrepreneurship Department
Kenneth Goodpaster, Ph.D.
David and Barbara Koch Endowed Chair in Business Ethics in the Ethics and Business Law Department
Meg Wilkes Karraker, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Carol Bruess, Ph.D.
Director of Family Studies, Professor of Communication and Journalism
Margaret A. Tortorella Cronin
Bridgeview Legal Advisors, PLLC
Paddy McNeely, Chair
Pritchard Family Auto Services
Emeritus Board Members
Harry G. McNeely, Jr.
Gerald Rauenhorst (1927-2014)
Family Business of the Year Award Winners
The Ada Family
Ada’s Trust and Investment
The Coughlan Family
Watch a video of the Murphy»
Watch a video of the Warner family »
Watch a video of the Kowalski family»
Marvin Windows and Doors
Watch a video of the Marvin family»
Watch a video of the Bailey family »
RSW Management Inc.
Watch a video of the Ward family »
The Dalsin Family
Dalsin Industries, Inc.
The Don Regan Family
The Helgeson Family
The Fiterman Family
Liberty Diversified Industries
The Winton Jones Family
Anchor Bancorp, Inc.
The Schroeder Family