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Family Businesses: The Heartbeat of Our Nation

As an institute that thrives on the principles of free enterprise and entrepreneurial thinking, it was fitting for us to host the inaugural Family Owned Business Days in February. At least half of all companies in the U.S. are family businesses, according to Harvard Business School. Stats show that these companies – which contribute to more than 70 percent of the world’s gross domestic product – are so much more than “mom and pop” shops. In fact, family businesses tend to be more profitable, more philanthropic and more likely to retain employees during an economic downturn.

At Northwood, many students either come from entrepreneurial families or hope to start their own businesses one day. Family Owned Business Days gave them a personal look at the benefits and challenges of working with parents and siblings, and served as a wonderful demonstration of how to “own your future.”

Opening night featured four students who discussed the dynamics of working for a family company: Griffin Williams of Power Process Piping; Ben Seago from APM Mosquito Control; Peter Leonard of Dazbog Coffee; and Kennedy Shea of Freeman Nursery.

It was especially touching to hear Kennedy comment about the event’s impact on her. “One of Northwood University's core values is the belief in the advantages of an entrepreneurial, free-enterprise society. I am very proud of my family's commitment to that very core value as well. It turns out The Northwood Idea is something I have been living long before attending school here, and something I will no doubt continue to live long after,” she said.

Alumnus Cliff Dice, founder and CEO of Dice Corporation, the top securities company in the world, shared his history, business strategies and succession plans with students during learning sessions and a general presentation later in the week.

Family owned businesses are the heartbeat of our nation and the lifeblood of our democratic society. Thank you to Cliff Dice and our student speakers for sharing the dream of business ownership and inspiring our learners to forge their own path to entrepreneurial success.

Have a great weekend!


Keith A. Pretty, J.D. President and CEO Northwood University 4000 Whiting Drive Midland, MI 48640 989.837.4203

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