Loews Corp. exec to keynote regional family business conference at FGCU

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Jonathan Tisch
Jonathan Tisch

The Resnick-Wynn Family Business Conference will once again feature some heavy hitters.

This year's keynote speaker: Jonathan Tisch, co-chairman of the board of the Loews Corp. and executive chairman of its subsidiary Loews Hotels & Co., and a co-owner of the New York Giants. He's a third-generation leader of a family business that went public, first listed in 1959 (NYSE: L).

The event will be held on Feb. 29, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Florida Gulf Coast University's Cohen Student Union. Tickets are still on sale, but there is only a handful left.

This year’s theme is “Leading Family Businesses Through Critical Crossroads.”

Here's more to know about the upcoming conference:

Who's behind the event?

It was founded in 2022 by Naples transplants Billie and John Resnick and Michael Wynn, a Naples native and long-time business owner. The Wynn family has owned businesses in Southwest Florida since the 1930s.

Michael Wynn is the chairman and president of Sunshine Ace Hardware, founded by his grandfather in 1958. He also serves as chairman of FGCU's board of trustees.

Years ago, John Resnick organized similar events at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League research university.

What's the goal?

The event is focused on "helping family businesses prosper for generations."

"They are the economic engine of our community," said John Resnick, founder of The Resnick Group.

Attendees can learn best practices for survival from the speakers – and each other.

"It's really a place for them to network and learn from each other," Resnick said. "I think that's one of the most positive aspects."

John Resnick
John Resnick

The speakers are asked to "pull back the curtains" on their experiences, good and bad, and to share how they've overcome struggles and challenges, Wynn said.

"They are getting handouts and hearing real life experiences, and in some cases, step-by-step instructions that they can go back and execute on in their businesses," he said. "It's not just interesting storytelling."

Who are the other speakers this year?

Here are the featured speakers with ties to Southwest Florida:

  • Elyse Lipman, CEO, Lipman Family Farms, in Immokalee

  • Tim Cartwright, partner and co-founder, Fifth Avenue Family Office, in Naples

  • Russell Budd, founding partner, PBS Contractors, in Naples

Other speakers are:

  • Dennis T. Jaffe, senior research fellow, BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors, in Boston, Massachusetts

  • John Macchia Sr., founder and board chairman, Advance Turning & Manufacturing Inc., in Jackson, Mississippi

  • Joseph Suresky, president and dealer principal, R I Suresky & Sons Inc., in Goshen, New York

This will be the third such event.

The first year Steve Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, was the keynote speaker. He was followed by Alan Hassenfeld, Hasbro's former chairman and CEO.

None of the keynote speakers have homes in Naples, or Southwest Florida, Resnick said, so they come here for the conference.

"We didn't pay any of them," he said, and every one of the speakers agreed to come here because they "wanted to help us."

Most attendees are local, but the event has also drawn business owners from half a dozen states, including New York, Michigan and Minnesota, since its first year.

"It actually surprised us," Resnick said of the draw.

A handful of students from FGCU are invited to attend for free every year.

With the conference, the hope is that more family-owned businesses will stick around, for as long as possible, in the region, Wynn said, as they generally contribute more money to the local economy and get more involved in the local community.

When it comes to succession statistics, they're "fairly dire," he emphasized.

According to the Family Business Institute, only about 30% of family-owned businesses in America survive into the second generation. That statistic drops to 12% into the third, and 3% into the fourth generation and beyond.

"We are at an inflection point with Baby Boomer businesses," Wynn said. "Many are retiring and they're closing their businesses, or selling their businesses to a private equity roll-up company because they don't have a good succession plan. By default, when you have a larger private equity interest buying up those businesses, that can change the complexion and culture of the community."

Michael Wynn
Michael Wynn

The U.S. Small Business Administration estimated that about 10 million Baby Boomer-owned businesses would change hands in the decade leading up to 2029.

According to Forbes, Baby Boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, account for about 40% of small business, or franchise ownership.

All proceeds from the regional conference go toward scholarships for FGCU students planning on joining a family business. This year, 25 entrepreneurial students have been invited to attend.

For more information, or tickets, visit fgcu.edu/familybusinessconference/.

This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Resnick-Wynn Family Business Conference at FGCU to feature heavy hitters