Berks alliance tackles the challenges of family businesses

PHOTO COURTESY OF BERKS FAMILY ALLIANCE Last year’s fall forum of the Berks Family Business Alliance. This year’s fall forum is Nov. 29 at Stokesay Castle, Reading.

Family owned and operated businesses will get a chance to brush up on the latest in the marketplace and learn how to develop strategies to get and stay ahead of the competition at the annual fall forum sponsored by the Berks Family Business Alliance on Nov. 29 in Reading.

Keynote speaker John McElligott, CEO of York Exponential, will discuss disruptive technology and innovation in the workplace, whose motto is “Disruption is here. How you react can make or break your business.” His company helps businesses leverage technology.

His insights are more important than ever if businesses are to thrive, said Karen Marsdale, president and CEO of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

“We know that disruption is here and affecting family owned businesses, large and small. John McElligott’s message of embracing innovation and change is vital to business leaders,” Marsdale said. “Attendees will walk away with a new perspective on taking advantage of the opportunity of disruption.”


The Berks Family Business Alliance, founded by the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, is a resource serving family owned and operated businesses of all sizes. There are no fees for membership.

The alliance provides diverse programming and numerous interactive opportunities to local businesses.

In addition to professionally facilitated programs on traditional business topics, the alliance explores the challenges faced by family business owners and employees.


Virginia Dodge, owner of VA Productions, a Cumru Township-based motion picture and video production company with five employees and $330,000 in annual revenue, is one family business owner who has participated in the alliance’s programs and is happy she did.

Dodge said after one session she gained a better understanding of the inherent challenges of family members working together, and, along with her husband, learned methods to overcome those challenges.

“Ultimately I know that our employees, surrounding family and friends, our personal life and our business are all going to positively benefit from what I take away from these peer discussion sessions,” she said.


Emily Coyle, a procurement specialist at M.J. Reider Associates, also praised the program.

M.J. Reider is woman-owned environmental testing laboratory in Reading accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, among others.

“Family businesses are so unique in their special ways, and being with a group of individuals who understand that and can relate is so useful and comforting,” Coyle said.

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