"Family-owned businesses are one of the driving factors in the Maine Economy.  Having the Institute as a resource for family businesses in Maine helps these businesses succeed and prosper."
- Maddy Corson, AMG Associates

We provide support for Family-Owned Business

Our Mission:

The Institute for Family-Owned Business is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization committed to supporting, strengthening and empowering family-owned businesses throughout the state of Maine. The Institute serves family business owners, executives and employees through a wide range of continuing education programs, networking opportunities and consulting services. The Institute is a comprehensive resource for family-owned business.

The Institute was formed in the early 1990s by prominent Portland business owner, Shep Lee, who was beginning to think about a leadership transition in his third-generation auto dealership, which he anticipated occurring within the next decade. Discovering that the closest resource was in New Hampshire, Lee approached the University of Southern Maine about creating an organization to support Maine family businesses. Lee, his daughter, Cathy and key USM leaders appointed a director and launched the Institute as a part of the University, with 20 member businesses.

Since its first public program in September 1995, the Institute has grown in its mission of providing support, networking, guidance and forums to help family business operators better understand and appropriately face their exceptional challenges. Over the next decade, the organization realigned itself to ensure that a majority of the board members were family business people; since 2008, the Institute has operated as a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the generous support of its founding sponsors: Verrill Dana, LLP, BerryDunn, MEMIC, TD Bank, and many other generous sponsors.

It is reported that family-owned businesses represent about 80% of all businesses in Maine. Through consulting, seminars, workshops, and networking, the Institute assists family-owned firms in meeting the unique managerial challenges and opportunities that are companion to operating and sustaining a successful family enterprise. An executive director and a volunteer board of directors guide this non-profit entity.

Maine Family Business Awards:

To cap the Institute's annual work, each year in October, is a gala that attracts family businesses large and small with an audience of over 500. The Maine Family Business Awards, presented with MEMIC is a celebration that pays more than just recognition; it serves as a vehicle for networking and opening up all shades of possibilities for families seeking to grow their business.

2022 marks the 22nd year of recognizing family businesses with the Awards and the 25th year for the IFOB.  Since its inception, 97 businesses have been recognized for various categories of excellence. One comment, made recently, may best capture the essence of the Awards, and in many ways describe the Institute: "While applying for the Awards, we discovered a lot about ourselves…and that alone made the effort worthwhile."

Nominations open in January for the 2022 awards!

Our Vision:
To provide the unique information, resources and networking opportunities to enable Maine’s business-owning families to prosper and achieve their fullest potential.

 To be the:

…premier resource for family-run businesses in Maine,

         …predominant source of outreach programs for family-owned businesses

         …recognized expert in and networking resource for inimitable family-business 

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