Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox and U. Michael Schumacher were
prepared for the September 5, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper.
All rights reserved.
Cathy Frank-White and Thomas Kaplan
Power luncheons are intimidating, says Cathy
president and CEO of the Greater Mercer County Chamber of Commerce.
"Nobody knows who anybody is unless they have been going for
That’s why she likes networking breakfasts. "From 8 to 9, before
the businesses open, they get a chance to stand up in a group of 50
people and tell about their business and talk to other people. It
is a cozier, more intimate way of networking."
This chamber holds monthly breakfast meetings that move around among
the member businesses, and for the next two months they will be in
Princeton — on Wednesday, September 13, at the Nassau Club, and
on Wednesday, October 11, at Mediterra. (Cost: $12. Call
In addition to the various chamber meetings, Frank-White has two
speaking engagements. On Wednesday, September 13, at 5:30 p.m. at
Mastori’s, she speaks to the Association of Government Accountants.
Cost: $28. Call Carol Dionne, 609-984-7673. On Thursday, September
14, at 6 p.m. at Merlino’s, she addresses the Greater Mercer County
Women’s Political Caucus on "Women in Business and Politics."
Cost: $35. Call 609-586-2431.
Frank-White is in her fifth career. "Every skill I’ve picked up
so far has contributed to what I’m doing in this job," she says.
Her mother died when she was three, and she was raised by a foster
family. But she believes her mother has been present in her life.
"I have been told that — what I have in the way of natural
personality and caring for people — comes from her. I feel she
is with me all the time."
After working her way through Montclair State she started out as a
teacher in high school and middle school and earned a master’s from
the College of New Jersey. "I have had no one to answer to but
myself — I didn’t do anything because I had to please anybody
else, and I love everything I do," she says. Switching careers,
she went into the political administration as administrator of
of Branchburg. Then she was executive director of the New Jersey
Association and manager of government relations for Wakefern Food
Corporation and Shop Rite.
Frank-White came to the chamber last spring full of energy and made
it a point to personally visit each and every business that called
her office to spend time explaining what the chamber can do for them.
"I’ve been encouraged by the new members we have brought in,"
she says, "many because of the personal attention. I don’t want
to just go out and make calls and get members and then not have them
get anything out of it."
Take advantage of what the organization offers, she urges:
some type of networking system, something other than advertising in
a newspaper. So when we do drawings, I don’t just draw a number and
say so and so won such and such. I make it a point of reading a
card, who won, what they do, who gave that gift, and where they are
"write-up" and one free advertisement. "And believe me,
people read that magazine to the point of telling me there is a word
misspelled in my column." As a former English teacher, she likes
the deadline challenge of doing research and coming up with new ideas
She plans to visit the mayor or administration of each town,
all the hidden gems that people don’t know about, to highlight each
of the communities in Mercer County." Not only is this grist for
her magazine column (her specialty is community profiles), but it
provides good answers for the many information requests her office
location. Mercer’s chambers have member businesses who are located
in Princeton and surrounding townships.
Until now, though, the Princeton members of Mercer’s chamber have
not felt quite equal to the other areas. That’s because the Mercer
chamber makes it a point to schedule twice yearly networking meetings,
breakfasts or card exchanges, for each of its geographical divisions
— except Princeton.
"Our members in Princeton are the ones who wanted to have things
like the other towns," says Frank-White. "Teri McIntire
of advertising and marketing of Palmer Square), is on our board, and
said we ought to form the Princeton division." The Princeton
first networking session will be a tailgate party at the Princeton
University Stadium for the Brown game on Saturday, October 14, at
noon. Cost: $10 including game ticket. Call 609-393-4143.
This division is not an attempt to move in on the Princeton chamber’s
turf, Frank-White says, merely a response to requests from member
businesses who are located in Princeton. "We met with Katherine
Kish, the Princeton chamber president, to say we are not looking
to compete in any way with Princeton area chamber activities,"
she says. "Businesses located in Princeton can choose to join
the Princeton chamber, the county chamber, or either of the high tech
networking associations — or all of them," says Frank-White.
The opportunity to promote Mercer County can come at unexpected times.
"I was working late one night when a PR company on Madison Avenue
called about a client coming to Washington Township. She was looking
for information on tax rates and schools. I sent her five different
booklets, and each one had exactly what she was looking for. `I’ll
make a deal,’ I told her. `I want you to tell them that the first
thing they have to do is join the Mercer chamber.’"
— Barbara Fox
Tuesday, September 12
director/curator, Grounds for Sculpture, $30. Grounds for Sculpture,
18 Fairgrounds Road, 609-393-4143 .
Wednesday, September 13
Services, $12. Nassau Club, 609-393-4143 .
Tuesday, September 19
Michael Hierl of the Pacesetter Group, Veronica Fielding of Princeton
Partners Interactive Group, and Douglas J. Zeitt of Fox Rothschild,
O’Brien & Frankel, $20, Greenacres Country Club, 609-393-4143 .
Monday, October 2
Fest, $20. Ewing Division. Paul Loser Hall, College of New Jersey,
Wednesday, October 4
development," Douglas H. Palmer, mayor, City of Trenton. $30.
Trenton War Memorial, 609-393-4143 .
Wednesday, October 11
Friday, October 13
By reservation. Sovereign Bank Arena, 609-393-4143 .
Saturday, October 14
Division, $10. Princeton Stadium, 609-393-4143 .
Thursday, September 14
For the past 17 years Bob Fishkin has worked along
side his eldest son in the Perth Amboy camera shop, Fishkin Brothers,
established over 60 years ago by his father and uncle. The business
relationship of father and son today is that of partners. And Fishkin
says this arrangement works well because they have mutual respect
for one another. "We consult each other about everything,"
he says, "from advertising to price structure." This puts
the Fishkins in an elite group of family businesses that have managed
to overcome the usual pitfalls. More frequently, attempts at passing
the reins of a business from one generation to another result in its
To combat this statistic, family businesses must learn how to deal
with these issues, rather than allow them to fester. Entrepreneurs
can find ways to reduce the frustrations that accompany family
in the workplace at a half-day breakfast seminar on Thursday,
14, at 8:30 a.m. at Fairleigh Dickinson’s campus in Madison. Thomas
E. Kaplan presents "Five Family Business Crises and How to
Avoid Them" as the fifth of an eight-part Family Business Forum
series at the university’s Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial
Families join for an annual fee but guests may attend a single seminar
by calling 973-443-8880, or go to
A mechanical engineer from Ohio Northern University, Class of 1987,
Kaplan has an MBA from Baldwin-Wallace College, and a Ph.D. from
Commonwealth University. He was the first research fellow in the
Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State University, the first doctoral
level position of its kind in the United States.
At Fairleigh Dickinson, Kaplan is an assistant professor of
studies, and much of his consulting work deals with family business
transitions, especially among siblings, and helping business owners
develop effective boards. "In all of our forum sessions, we strive
to provide practical information and processes that families can put
into practice," says Kaplan.
The type of dialogue and on-going communication that Bob and Paul
Fishkin have established is essential, Kaplan believes, for overcoming
family business crises. "Increasingly," he says, "families
wait until problems reach crisis stage to begin dealing with
The five crises typical to family businesses:
into a disaster.
families with whom I work, say that they value accountability.
that’s not enough," contends Dr. Kaplan. "They need to
work to make accountability a part of their family and business
Many conflicts have their roots in disparities of commitment and
On not talking to each other: "Families that communicate
make it look easy," says Kaplan. "The truth is, however, that
effective communication takes considerable effort — and this
must be consistent. Otherwise, when family members do get together,
there is great potential for everyone to unleash their frustrations
on everyone else."
Even within family businesses, there are distinct situations. First
generation businesses established by spouses or siblings involve
dynamics than those of second or third generations that consist of
more players, who are motivated by various drives, not always in
"Issues of trust, fairness, leadership, and accountability are
often much different in a sibling team-led business," says Kaplan.
When asked how a large sibling-run company such as Fortunoff’s
store succeeds at doing it, he said "By constantly working at
it and not taking anything for granted."
For husband and wife team Sandy and Bernie Newman
for 26 years at Raritan Container Company in New Brunswick, the key
is trust. "We like each other," says Sandy Newman, "and
trust each other’s decisions." If her husband makes a business
decision, she admits, "I really trust that decision, even if it’s
not one I would have made."
Kaplan is optimistic that with the proper skillset and determination,
family businesses can successfully pass from one generation to the
next. "Every generational transition," he says, "is
and there is not one best way to thrive over time." For many the
transition is too difficult. Yet, Kaplan maintains, "I believe
too much time is spent talking about family business failure across
generations, and we often fail to appreciate how few `old’ businesses
there are in the United States."
Sandy Newman has seen how family businesses can work: "By working
together, we have the same interests, and we are pulling in the same
— U. Michael Schumacher
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