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"The Family Business: Expertise, Innovation, and Philanthropy in Times of Transition"

Posted 10/25/2011
Posted by David Isgur

Join the University of Hartford’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, its Barney School of Business, and its Entrepreneurial Center for a unique opportunity to hear from business innovators, pioneers, and philanthropists at a symposium examining “The Family Business” that will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 9, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., in Wilde Auditorium, in the University’s Harry Jack Gray Center, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford.

Following the symposium will be the opening of an exhibition featuring Lena Stein’s photography of these business families, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The exhibition will run from Nov. 9 to Feb. 2012. Both the symposium and the exhibition are free and open to the public.

The success or failure of a family business is often defined by whether it can survive the transition from the founder’s vision to the next generation’s vision of the business. The stories that will be featured in this symposium and exhibition will present seven businesses from the Greater Hartford area that have faced the inevitable challenges and represent important ways for other businesses to consider.

One of the factors that generated this symposium was the celebration of the Greenberg Center’s 25th anniversary and a desire to find out more about these family businesses that have sustained the Greenberg Center through the years with their generous philanthropic endeavors. These business have exhibited a dedication to the wider community and a commitment to a business model that includes serving the greater community.

The businesses featured in the symposium and exhibition are: COLECO (Connecticut Leather Company), COPACO (Connecticut Packing Company), Konover Development, Lightbridge Corporation, Message Center Management, Inc., Puritan Furniture, and Viking Fuel Oil Company. Coleco was founded by Maurice Greenberg in 1932; Copaco was founded by Kalman Bercowetz, an immigrant who had arrived from Kiev in 1909; Puritan Furniture was founded by William Singer in 1931; Viking Fuel was started by Israel Steinberg in 1933; and Konover Development was started by Holocaust survivor and refugee Simon Konover after the Second World War. Corporations like Message Center Management and Lightbridge Corporation have become pioneers in newly developed fields that will shape our lives and our worlds well into the 21st century and are all the same, tales of intergenerational business success and transition.

These business success stories testify to the vision, resilience, and courage of their companies’ founders, and the dedication of the children who have continued and expanded their parents’ founding visions.

Among those speaking will be leading figures from the world of business and philanthropy, including Arnold Greenberg (former CEO of Coleco), Bonnie Bercowetz (CEO of Copaco), Henry Zachs (founder of Message Center Management, Inc.), Jane Konover Coppa (Konover Development), and Joel Grae (founder, Lightbridge Corporation). In these challenging economic times, hearing from a group with such wisdom, expertise, and innovation is a rare and invaluable opportunity.

The symposium will allow students and community to engage these business and philanthropic leaders in a conversation on a crucial topic – how to maintain the founding vision of  a company from one generation to the next, and how to serve as a philanthropic resource in helping to build a better community.

The symposium is sponsored by the Center for Professional Development, the Entrepreneurial Center, the Barney School of Business, and the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford. It will be chaired by Lacey Banks McGill of the Entrepreneurial Center and moderated by Margy Steinberg, professor emeritus of the Barney School of Business.

As the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies continues celebrating its 25th anniversary during the upcoming year, the Center will feature unique exhibitions, lectures, symposia and collaborations with groups on and off campus to highlight its work. The Family Business symposium and exhibition is a collaboration of the Barney School of Business, the Entrepreneurial Center and the business community of greater Hartford that highlights the fruitful products of such collaboration.

For further information on the exhibition and program at the University of Hartford, and for more information on the exciting programming planned for the Greenberg Center’s 25th anniversary year, visit or contact us at 860.768.4964 or