ABOUT IRA BRYCK’S WORK AS A FAMILY BUSINESS ADVISOR:
Our company needed to step back and think critically about what we had become and our future potential. Ira lead our team in a modified SWOT analysis to help us explore our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. As always, he was an excellent facilitator, and asked excellent probing questions that got us thinking differently, and also illuminated areas that needed more specific exploration. Our entire team enjoyed having him with us, and felt that he brought us to a place that we wouldn’t have been able to reach on our own. It was a great kick-off to a longer term process, and we look forward to having him back.
Meghan Lynch, Six-Point Creative Works
Calling Ira Bryck to consult with our family was a valuable business decision. He gave us a creative way to communicate and identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement that will help us move forward. He was thoughtful in his approach and his vast experience in family business dynamics made him a valuable resource for us.
John Kokoski, Mapleline Farm LLC
I have known Ira Bryck for more than ten years and it never ceases to amaze me how easily he can establish rapport and communicate with people from totally different cultures and traditions. Over the years, he met with and arranged site visits for dozens of groups of international visitors who visit this country and never turned down my requests. He feels very comfortable talking to a group of complete strangers who do not speak English working with and through an interpreter (and that is a skill in and of itself) and discussing very personal things. And it is always very personal with Ira: he can openly talk about his life and family and any number of things he feels might help future and current business leaders make their business more productive and more successful. Every meeting with Ira brings something new and valuable, because it comes not just from his experience, but also from his heart.
Andrei V. Izurov, Interpretation|Communication|Consulting, Amherst, Massachusetts
We were very pleased with the process and the product that came of Ira Bryck helping us at Westside Finishing create a meaningful mission statement. Ira gathered information (both through a questionnaire and a gathering) from the owners, managers, and front line employees, on the subject of how and why Westside Finishing aims to succeed. He led us in a useful conversation about what would work best for us in a mission statement, got many thoughts and feelings out on the table, and helped us craft a mission statement, using our own words. We are very proud of what it says and how we came to say it.
Jeanne Bell, Westside Finishing
My business partner and I were at a point of deciding whether to dissolve a busienss of 17 years or move forward with a completely different structure. Ira gave us an opportunity to explore both the business options and our needs and feelings in a safe place. We were given the time and structure that allowed us to put emotions aside and reach an acceptable decision. I am thankful that this process did not destroy our friendship.
Jim Levey, Chambers Advisory Group
This is a letter of recommendation for the use of the mediation services of Ira Bryck. In my business, a partnership, something came up suddenly, and having a third-party be in the room and guiding the discussion seemed like it would be a valuable service. It turned out that it was very valuable. Ira fit us in quickly and within a short time, and because of his considerate guidance and focused questions and statements, we covered a lot of ground in a very efficient and effective manner. I would highly recommend that anyone who has to have hard conversations have Ira in the room with them. I believe that you will be pleased that you did.
Rob Chambers, Chambers Advisory Group
On behalf of my family, I want to thank you for the all the guidance, insight, and assistance provided by the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. It is truly a service to companies like ours going through the generational transition. We’ve become a much more sophisticated and savvy business family. Our enhanced understanding of the unique dynamics of a family business helped us to successfully navigate the rocky waters of transition (both management and ownership). Thanks also for the friendship and support you provided me personally.
Steven Neveu, Notch Mechanical Constructors
Thank you for creating a great experience yesterday (where you gathered several business owners and facilitated them through an exercise of redesigning my facility). I feel that you brought a wonderful group of people together who where creative, honest and sincere. The atmosphere generated a bond of trust and the giving was enormous. Ira, the initial ground work that you did set the stage for this group to have structure and focus and accomplished so much in a short period of time. The synergy was fantastic. Thank you very much for stepping outside the box and exceeding all of my expectations.
Dave and Anne Cistoldi, FLN MAR Rubber & Plastics Co.
Our Nashville based family real estate business, H.G. Hill Company, is in its 5th generation, and facing many new and ongoing challenges, even as we succeed as a company and a family. We continuously challenge ourselves to have the right conversations, and use our annual retreats for this purpose. Ira Bryck was the facilitator of our recent 2 day retreat, and brought us to new heights. We were able to safely engage in a robust, paradigm shifting dialog about ownership, diversification, risk, communication, leadership, legacy, stewardship and much more. He got our youngest generation talking about investing themselves in our future, in a way that has never happened before. He helped our elder generation (and all) change their perspective about what it means to be owners. He brought us to agreement on several steps we will now follow, with his guidance, to develop and execute strategy and enhance our legacy. It was widely reported that our retreat was a wild success, largely due to his talent as a facilitator. We proudly recommend him for this role.
David Dingess, H.G. Hill Family Council
Ira Bryck was tremendously helpful with his insights into the strengths and challenges of my business model. He gave me some great ideas not only for ways to connect with new clients but for how to determine best CATEGORIES of clients that would most benefit from my services. He’s also extremely personable and a pleasure to spend time with. I recommend him highly as a consultant and an advisor for any developing business. Thanks, Ira!
Mat Lebowitz, Founder, MLCreative
Dear Ira, Once again, thank you for helping our Ledges Board with some focus for the future. I am truly a fan of your intellect and abilities. You took a three hour period and focused our group onto a process of discussion and commitment. We needed to evolve from a day to day focus to a more long term approach, and you succeeded at giving us a plan. Truly a job well done! Thank you again for your time. I consider you a friend and I want to reassure you that I am always available to you. I look forward to our next event together..
Peter Rosskothen, Owner/President, The Log Cabin & The Delaney House
My organization, the Institute for Training and Development (itd-amherst.org), specializes in conducting international training and exchange programs for students and professionals from all over the world. Recently we hosted a very successful, week long program titled “Global Entrepreneurship and Marketing Boot Camp” for 20 students from the Monica Herrera Marketing and Communications University in El Salvador. Ira proved to be an essential partner in the planning and implementation of this program. With Ira’s help we were able to put together and intense week that combined lectures and workshops with nationally recognized faculty from UMASS’ Isenberg School of Management, site visits to exemplary businesses in the area and hands-on meetings with highly-regarded area business leaders. One of the highlights was a visit to the Sanderson MacLeod Company organized by Ira. During the visit students were able to engage in a “Lean Manufacturing” exercise known as Ohno Circles. Following the visit students analyzed their observations and developed recommendations that they presented to the appreciative company managers. Professors accompanying the students declared that the program exceeded their expectations because it contained an effective mix of theoretical and practical sessions. In addition, students were very appreciative of Ira’s valuable facilitation skills and genuine warmth whenever he interacted with them. Ira’s deep commitment to educating future business leaders and extensive Western Massachusetts business network made all the difference.
Mark Protti, Executive Director, Institute for Training and Development, Amherst, MA
I’m writing this letter as a testimonial of my appreciation of the fine job that Ira Bryck has done to help resolve an extremely difficult and troubling impasse that myself and family members came to in our family business. After four grueling sessions we achieved the unimaginable: we heard each other’s viewpoints and could respect one another again. Ira’s approach of focusing on the business relationship, but hearing out some of the family pain was just right for us. In spite of some tumultuous moments, he mediated skillfully to keep us focused on our objectives and our points of agreement, while validating our disagreements. I highly recommend Ira to anyone who needs assistance in negotiating the emotionally charged task of reconciling family and business problems.
Gordon Fletcher-Howell, Landscapes by Earthcare, Inc.
Thank you so very much for the meeting forum you created for us this morning. As was noted, we are all on board with our mission and do respect each other but the “business of business” has an influence on our everyday life both individually and collectively. You helped organize a discussion that was focused by our own concerns. I liked the way you took our responses to your questionnaire, categorized salient remarks, gave us individual time to read and think and then facilitated discussion that was meaningful to all of us and will, I know, focus our future actions. We all participated and spoke from the heart. Your summaries, thoughtful comments throughout and in general, your breadth of personal experience with family businesses were all so helpful.
Maryellen Moreau, Mindwing Concepts, Inc.
Working with Ira was one of the best professional experiences my company and I could have had. There are many challenges (as well as rewards) working in a family business; and to that situation, Ira brought clarity, insight and perspective to the meeting he led. I would highly recommend working with Ira and the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley! Every moment with him is time well spent.
Brian Scott Welch, Mindwing Concepts, Inc.
Thank you so much for all of your help. You were more informative in that short time than anyone else that I have talked to in the past. The session was interesting and beneficial.
Amy Selvia, New England Promotional Marketing
We’re pretty excited about using some of the tools and tactics you proposed today. As I’d hoped, talking with an objective (not family!) expert was just what we needed. You’re a tremendous resource of knowledge and experience—I appreciate your willingness to share. I’m a big fan!
Kathy Behilo, Treo Communications
Ira provided for our family the opportunity to have fair, balanced discussions relative to family and business issues that would not have been possible without his guidance. He was instrumental in helping us get through various difficult issues in an most effective way. He has a great understanding of the dynamics of business families and dealing with the challenges they face.
Steve Solomon, Solomon Metals
Ira: it has been a pleasure utilizing your talents and real world experience as a consultant. You have kept us moving in a positive direction and helped us to expand our business. You have been the unbiased voice of reason when conflict arose and not burdened us with opinion but fact. I am sure that our business would still be open if we never made the mutual commitment between each other but it would not be prospering. You have definitely seen us with all of our warts exposed and not told us we are ugly !!! Balancing family and business is hard enough when it is not intertwined but once they coexist can become unbearable and it appears together we are making it less unbearable. Thanks for all your direction and wisdom.
Bob and Brian Ambrefe, Faye Omasta and Deb Haraden, Village Pharmacy
Ira was able to help save our volatile family and family business from detonation. It takes a special person that can bridge two different generations and two different personalities.
Allen Cook, J.H. Cook and Sons, Inc.
Ira provided excellent advice and direction for us. Some things we didn’t want to hear, but definitely needed to hear. He helped put us on a path forward instead of spinning our wheels.
Matthew O’Neil, Village Lumber
Ira has facilitated some strategic planning sessions and worked with me and my son on personal and business planning. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience from working with many family businesses, and he’s well read, so he always has recommendations on books to help improve most any family business situation. Ira can handle strong personalities and is great at asking strategic questions. I would highly recommend Ira for facilitation, conflict management and family business issues.
Jeff Glaze, Decorated Products, EpiCenter
I selected Ira Bryck to join our first Entrepreneurial Family Firms Academy (EFFA) for two primary reasons; first, his depth of knowledge of the family business arena, and second, his candor and honesty in dealing with challenging issues related to family enterprise. The students (a group of business students already working in their family businesses in Mexico) all agreed he was the best instructor of the week. His style, while not confrontational, helped students address many difficult issues pertaining to their role in the family firm, attaining lofty goals and asking the right questions. Ira was prepared, flexible and as always a pleasure to work with.
Dann Van Der Vliet, Family Business Initiative, University of Vermont
I am one of the fortunate entrepreneurs who has access to Ira Bryck’s support, intelligence and business acumen. Bryck has an encyclopedic knowledge of business management and I leave every meeting with a new title to read and a new spin on my company. If you are serious about pursuing a successful enterprise, you would be wise to engage Ira Bryck as a trusted advisor and coach.
Deborah E. Kruger, Owner and Founder, PsychBilling, Amherst, MA
Ira has facilitated many roundtables for the clients of our incubator. He has also provided individualized consulting for a variety of business related issues. He is truly an expert in eliciting strategic thinking from business owners who are focused on day to day operations. He is also extremely effective in conflict management related issues. A pleasure to work with, he always delivers as promised.
Deborah King, former Director, Springfield (Mass.) Business Incubator, Scibelli Enterprise Center, Springfield Technical Community College
Ira is a multi-talented, brilliant consultant and impresario. He provides a venue for thought leaders who provoke and inspire leaders to think…and feel…before taking strategic action. He is willing to move people beyond their comfort zones while providing great resources to help them succeed.
Ingrid Bredenberg M.A. , Bredenberg Associates
I am deeply honored and proud both professionally and personally to write a recommendation for Ira Bryck. He is a forward thinking and progressive leader in the area of entrepreneurship with his main focus on family businesses. Ira consistently demonstrates a deep dedication to his family businesses, his colleagues, and his local and world communities. His integrity and sense of entrepreneurship is unquestionable. I salute him. His track record speaks for itself. Under the leadership of Ira, The UMass Family Business Center has soared to new heights evidenced by growth, respect and credibility he has earned from all business members, business advisors, and his local community. He focuses on ideas that motivate, grow and unite. Ira believes in building bridges to create economically vibrant companies and he believes in joining hands with all small businesses and the local community to elevate all through cooperation and common purpose. Strategic planning has long been an important part of Ira’s business career and the development and growth of the UMass Family Business Center. Over the many years, I have worked with Ira on numerous strategic planning sessions and business development sessions. His attention to details, his instantaneous follow up skills and his mind-set of deliberative thinking help with achieving forward thinking and proactive results that are attainable by the companies with flourishing and lasting results. I look forward to working with Ira for many years to come. I would be happy to provide additional comments upon request.
Lyne J. Kendall, (retired) Sr. Financial Business Analyst Massachusetts Small Business Development Center
A FEW KIND WORDS ABOUT IRA BRYCK AS RADIO SHOW HOST:
Laurie Breitner (my business partner) told me her husband happened to catch the interview while he was in the car on Saturday morning. He liked it and mentioned to Laurie that he now understands how we complement each other, which is really good feedback! I want to tell you that you are a terrific interviewer. Both your process and the result far exceeded my expectations. In retrospect. I feel compelled to ask if you have ever thought of doing this for business owners that would like to have a an audio (or even video) interview for a website (or other purpose). Having listened to several of the podcasts you have done, I know the interview with me was not a fluke!
Karen Utgoff, Karen Utgoff Consulting
Just wanted to drop a note and say that you did a real nice job as an interviewer. I felt very comfortable and your questions were clear and the discussion flowed well. We certainly could have discussed much more and as you predicted the 24 minutes flew by! I look forward to our continued collaboration.
Gary Nader, Total Quality Associates
Some Feedback About Ira Bryck as Presenter and Educator
Ira Bryck spoke to my Management Consulting class at the Isenberg School, and held my students spellbound for an hour. He has extensive experience working with family businesses, his knowledge and mastery of family business issues is impressive, and his presentation was full of wisdom and useful insights. He led a highly interactive session – his style is extremely engaging — and the time just flew by! I highly recommend him as both a speaker and consultant.
Alan Robinson, Professor, UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management
Thank you so much for speaking to our organization Living Local, on the topic A Few Simple Tools Any Business Can Use to Clarify Your Problems & Discover Your Solutions. Everyone said your talk was wonderful. A member came in today to specifically tell me how helpful your info was for her. Thank you so much. We would love you to come again! My best regards,
-Joy Leavitt, KiddlyWinks and Living Local
Ira: Well done yesterday, at your presentation to the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. I too enjoyed listening to your thoughts, suggestions, and comments. You spoke from a position of knowledge, experience, and background. I was impressed with your breadth/depth of current literature and research on the topic(s). It was evident that the group too enjoyed the session by their participation and comments/responses. You scored a hit for yourself, the Center, and CPE. Thanks
Bill McClure, (retired) Director, UMass Amherst Division of Continuing & Professional Education
I am happy to recommend Ira Bryck to you as one of the most knowledgeable people anywhere in the field of family business dynamics, relationships, and challenges. Ira and I began our education in the field of family business sixteen years ago when we became founding directors of the Family Business Centers at the University of Massachusetts and the University of New Haven. During my collaboration with Ira I found him to have an insatiable appetite for all he could learn about families in business. While I have long since left the University of New Haven, his program at UMass has since been recognized as one of the very best in the country. Beside his skill and accomplishment as a Director, Ira has also consulted with families in business for many years. He is knowledgeable, compassionate, attentive, and continuously attends workshops and conferences to improve his consultation skills. While there are many who consult with family businesses as a “sideline” to other careers, Ira has made the study and assistance to family business owners his only career and a real passion for a very long time. Please feel free to contact me if you feel a need to discuss his qualifications in more detail. Michael W. Camerota, J.D., Certified Business Intermediary, Touchstone Advisors, Enfield, CT
Ira Bryck is simply a wonderful presenter. He understood our audience well and tailored his presentation to their needs and interests. Not only that, but he brought with him several other panelists who added much to the program. His sense of humor and conscientiousness were appreciated by the audience, as well as by me – the coordinator of the event. I say if you can get him, GET HIM!
Janet Kaplan Bucciarelli, former Director, Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival
Just wanted to let you know how proud we are of you for doing such a great job with the center. You are an outstanding executive director with world class skills. It’s been a pleasure knowing you and having the opportunity to watch you develop this center and how you’ve grown professionally . Kudos to you!! You should stand proud of what you’ve accomplished in your career with the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. Can’t explain in words the regard we have for you.
Rick and Ross Giombetti, Giombetti Associates
Ira was the featured speaker at the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council’s midwinter meeting and was nothing short of enthralling. He is highly personable, speaks from a position of knowledge without being preachy, and “worked the crowd”, getting everyone involved in his presentation. I don’t usually get positive feedback from a group of attorneys,accountants and financial planners, but I heard good things from them on Ira. Any group would be wise to have him as a speaker. In fact, I am trying to set up a time for him to address some of my family business clients in a similar setting.
Jeffrey Siegel, Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council, VP, Financial & Estate Planning at United Wealth Management Group
Ira Bryck’s presentation (about his advice to family business, based on his experiences in his own family’s business, and working with others) to the members and sponsors of the Northeastern University Center for Family Business earned scores that were all in the Very to Extremely Valuable range; and the comments were positive, including: “Ira got us thinking about how to deal with and confront my family with an open mind, respect and compromise” and that the talk dealt with “real tough issues” made “very interesting” by hearing ‘insights from other companies” so they could “take the time to talk and plan as a family and management team.” He was funny yet provocative, direct yet tactful. I confidently recommend Ira and this presentation to any industry group or family business program.”
Ted Clark, Director Northeastern University Center for Family Business
Thank you for contributing to the 2nd Annual “How To” Entrepreneurship Institute. The small business owners and entrepreneurs left energized and excited about the information they received. The “How to Govern, Communicate & Plan in Your Family Company” workshop that you led was especially informaitve, and you did an excellent job in presenting the subject matter in a palpable way.
Aimee Griffin Munnings, Esq., Director, Western New England College Law and Business Center for Advancing Entrepreneurship
Having grown up in a family business, Ira Bryck has a thorough understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in any family business enterprise, making him uniquely qualified to speak authoritatively on this complex—and emotionally charged—subject. For this reason, Mr. Bryck adds value to any educational program focusing on how not only to survive, but thrive in a family business environment.”
Dan Moreland, Publisher, PCT Media Group, Cleveland, OH
We were pleased to have Ira Bryck as our after dinner keynote at the Paperboard Packaging Council’s Fall 2006 conference at Greenbrier Resort. His presentation, “More Crazy Than Busy: Business / Family Life Balance” hit the mark for our audience, many of whom were with spouses, and seeking – and finding- in his talk a strong mixture of entertainment and insight. Ira also facilitated a discussion the next morning, on the topic “How to Pass the Torch Without Getting Burned,” which our members appreciated as a valuable opportunity to discuss a vital subject with a knowledgeable expert.
Jerry Van de Water, President, Paperboard Packaging Council
Thank you very much for making your presentation at our recent annual meeting. Many maple producers are faced with transitioning their agricultural/forestry businesses to the next generation just as they manage their woodlots and maple sugarbushes for long term health. Your workshop was very helpful to many who attended our North American Maple Syrup Council meeting.
Tom McCrumm, past president, NAMSC
I am delighted to have had Ira Bryck as a speaker on a number of occasions for our clients. The comments we receive each time he speaks are always very positive and enthusiastic! The last presentation that he did was so popular we had to limit the number of attendees. Ira engages his audience, is amusing and gets his point across very well. As a result, we have established a close working relationship with the Family Business Center (FBC) and with Ira. We consider Mr. Bryck a valued colleague and consult with him often for guidance and assistance!
Fred Andrews, former Director, Springfield Technical Community College Enterprise Center
Thank you for being our workshop presenter. We really appreciate having the chance to let people know about the family business center and to consider the issues that family businesses face. I just heard from two of the quieter participants that they had gotten just what they needed from the seminar, and I heard similar comments from others last night. I hope you’ll consider repeating the program sometime next year.
Kathryn Hayes, UMass Donahue Institute, Pioneer Valley Enterprise Program
Thank you so much for your session with the Connecticut Young Executives Organization. The feedback I received was very positive. I always enjoy the profound learning experience.
Michael Francouer, Joining Technologies
Thank you for participating in Friday’s highly successful cranberry growers’ business seminar, attended by over 140 growers! Your opening presentation on the challenges facing family businesses struck a responsive cord in the audience and set the tone for the rest of the day. Thanks again. You and your Center contribute significantly to our efforts as a land grant university!
Steve Demski, former UMass Vice Provost for University Outreach
Ira’s presentation was one of the highlights of the PCT Mergers & Acquisition Seminar, a two-day conference in which pest control industry professionals heard from a diverse speaker lineup that included PCOs (pest control owner/operators), consultants, brokers, franchisers and others. Ira’s presentation, titled “The Realities of Selling Your Business,” explored both the business aspects, as well as the emotional side, of selling one’s business. Reflecting on both his personal experiences — working for his family’s children’s wear business — and using his business acumen, Ira crafted an informative and thought-provoking presentation that was customized to our audience. Our audience was entertained, informed and felt comfortable exchanging experiences and asking Ira questions.
Brad Harbison, Internet Editor & Managing Editor, PCT Magazine, GIE Media Group, Cleveland, OH