20 August

President’s Perspective: Bruce DeMent

President’s Perspective: Bruce DeMent Bruce DeMent (center) with Bob Carmody and Brian McIlwee

CFBC President 2000-2002

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the CFBC, it fills me with pride to reflect on our beginnings. During my presidency, which spanned two terms 2000 and 2001, the organization underwent a major transformation. It was a new century. The Internet was just a whisper, and CFBC was poised at the threshold of a new era.

From the beginning, we had organized forum groups and general meetings.  However, we did not have forum protocol or processes.  As we worked our way through the formative stages of then UIC-FBC, we recognized that our members needed new and different support to grow their businesses in a fast-paced world. We set about creating an organization that could help members thrive in changing times. Specifically, we wrote our by-laws, formalized our leadership structure, and introduced the Forum protocol. That early work, as challenging and contentious as it was at times, set the course for the CFBC to become the leading family and closely held business organization in Chicago.

Change can be messy. Because we were founded as a member-driven organization, that meant listening and adapting to member needs. There were passionate debates and heated meetings. Near the end of my first term, we held a plenary meeting to determine the structure and future direction of the CFBC.  We had virtually 100% attendance.  The room buzzed with energy; it was lively and exciting! Being leaders committed to making the CFBC the best it could be, we reached consensus and forged ahead.

Propelled by our new vision, we strove to solidify CFBC into the highly-valued and effective organization that exists today. We began by offering quality educational programs and meaningful interactions with other owners of family businesses. By the end of my term, a change in leadership would have added complexity to the work. I offered to serve a second term to provide continuity. During my second term, we formed our current committees, implemented the structure, protocols, and processes for Forum training and reorganized our general meetings.

I am especially proud of the Forum feature of the CFBC. Members tell me time and again that it provides them with the greatest value of their membership.   For my own part, Forum has taught me to communicate, fairly, openly, honestly and with emotional intelligence, which has also enriched my personal life beyond words.

Today, the CFBC is a vital and integral part of my business and personal life.  The education I received through programs, access to best practices and committed sponsors makes me a far more effective executive.  My business life before the CFBC is only a confused, murky memory.

I am proud of what we have accomplished together to create today’s CFBC.   I congratulate our members and everyone who helped make us the premier organization for Chicago family and closely held businesses.  I am grateful that I had the opportunity to contribute to our success, and look forward to our next 20 years.


With pleasure,
Bruce DeMent

27 June

President’s Perspective: Anton Gfesser

President’s Perspective: Anton Gfesser Anton & Barb Gfesser at the Starlight Ball

CFBC President 1999 – 2000

The Gfesser family and I were very fortunate to discover The Family Business Council in 1996. I spoke to a number of members at my introductory dinner Program gathering and knew right away this was the organization that would help the Trendler family business address the dynamics that were challenging the partners at Trendler. My brothers and I soon found numerous ways to address and communicate in a more effective and focused manner.

Then in 1998, I was approached by the then acting president of FBC Bill Stringfellow to become the next president. I could not serve at that time, as we were in the process of moving our family business to a new location. I told Bill, I would be ready to take on the leadership role the following year in 1999. My most rewarding time came, when I began having meetings with Jim Liautaud to orient me with his strategic vision for the FBC. We soon discovered that future leaders needed a similar orientation and the organization needed to develop a process for future FBC leaders. From those meetings, we started the Leadership forum.

We also realized that we needed to have a process in place to allow the natural leaders of the organization to serve the FBC with their unique skills and abilities. At the time, I was also serving on the board of the American Furniture Manufactures Association in North Carolina. It was only natural to share that experience and to introduce their process for advancing proactive members to serve in leadership positions. That process is still in place at the CFBC today.

Serving as president of the FBC got me intimately involved in how important our organization was to all the family businesses in the Chicagoland area. I discovered what an effective leader needed to practice in order to constructively address family business issues. I also realized how important it was to listen and help to bring out the leader in everyone I met. FBC introduced me to some of the best Leaders in my life. Those Leaders brought out the Leader in me, for which, I am eternally grateful to the many past and present Leaders of the CFBC.

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