As the TV show used to say:
And there are over 5 million family businesses, just in the U.S., each with several sides of the story– so I NEVER pull a solution off the shelf.
I create a customized process for each unique family business situation, using common sense, meeting of the minds, mediation, drama and role playing, strategic questioning, improving the ways in which you meet, plan and communicate, and work to make your highest hopes your business reality… Sometimes families are just not fated to work well together, so I help you figure that out, with a minimum of toxicity and blame.
It begins with a conversation, which begins with you calling (413) 545-4545 or email me.
Since 1994, Ira Bryck has helped family businesses communicate with increased clarity and purpose, as a mediator and facilitator. He has helped business families in many industries and stages of growth to resolve conflict, run more coherent meetings, create and institute professional policies and governance structures, and helped the strategic thinking of families planning their ownership and management transitions. Ira brings a mixture of professionalism and humanity to the consulting process, and helps clients “Treat the business like a business and the family like a family.”
Ira is the Director of the University of Massachusetts Family Business Center, a non-commercial learning community for business families in Western Mass. The center offers a series of dinner forums; the newsletter, Related Matters, advice column, Dear Ira: Fresh Air and Cold Water for the Perplexed Business Family, and excellent confidential roundtables. Ira also created the highly rated and ranked website, www.umass.edu/fambiz Ira and the center have won awards for innovation and creativity in family business education, from the International Family Business Program Association and the University Continuing Education Association.
Ira will custom design a retreat for your family business stakeholders, to help you figure out where you’re going and how you’ll get there; stimulate a conversation between generations that builds the best of the past, present and future; and work on how to make your family values tools to build your family successes. Feel free to begin a conversation with Ira to explore this important family business activity.
“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 is the author of three plays about life in family business, including, A Tough Nut to Crack, based on his 17 years in his family’s 4th generation childrenswear business on Long Island, where he served simultaneously in every role from president to tailor. These plays serve as teaching tools, and have been performed over 50 times nationally and abroad. Ira has regularly presented a “talkback” discussion following the play.
“Tough Nut to Crack is tough not to enjoy. It is a poignant, funny, insightful, relevant, thought-provoking play that sparks discussion and laughter. The University of Toledo Center for Family Business is proud to have presented this play to more than 220 enlightened participants. The impact of the conversation will expand and last throughout the years.”
—Debbe Skutch, Director, University of Toledo Center for Family Business
Ira is the regular and ongoing moderator of roundtable groups, comprised of presidents and key managers in family businesses and leads an informative, provocative, confidential and strategic discussion that allows for growth of collective wisdom and creative thought.
Ira has designed and produced customized trainings for a variety of organizations, ranging from using improvisation actors, depicting a range of difficult customers, while Ira guides the sales force through a strategic questioning process; to customer service trainings, where an improv troupe depicts an array of problematic scenarios for 200 staff of UMass Outreach.
Ira has helped design and create a family business personalized documentary, interviewing generations of family business to tell their stories for posterity, in a way that creates as a keepsake the family experiences, wisdom, forgiveness and humor.
Ira is regularly quoted in stories about family owned business, including Fortune, Wall Street Journal, NPR Marketplace, Smart Money, Entrepreneur, Business Week, NY Post, Small Business Review, LI Newsday, NY Times, CBS Marketwatch, Washington Times, Bloomberg News
Ira is a talented communicator and educator, who enjoys getting the audience thinking, feeling, and thinking again. He has presented to a wide array of business owners and expert advisors, provoking audiences to consider how to better “Treat Your Family Like a Family and Your Business Like a Business.”
“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, 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
Work With My Family’s Business
Ira’s earliest memories are of straightening stock and taking cash in his family’s childrens wear retail store on Long Island. He also spent 17 adult years there as 4th generation president, tailor, and co-owners with his parents. His experience there gives him a business sense and empathy for family business members; and inspired him to write the play A Tough Nut to Crack about working with parents, which has been performed 20 times nationally and abroad. In addition, Ira’s business experience qualifies him to discuss with family businesses the issues that exist at the crossroads of business and family.
“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., Amherst, Mass.
“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., Holyoke, Mass.
“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, Mass.
“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
“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 UMass Amherst Family Business Center! Every moment with him is time well spent.”
—Brian Scott Welch, Mindwing Concepts, Inc.
“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, Lynnfield, Mass.
“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, Lynn, Mass.
“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, Granite Quarry, N.C.
“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, Westboro, Mass.