UPSTATE OWNERS FORUM: "The Role of Business in the Thriving of the Human Spirit"

by Smith Family Business Initiative


Wed, 14 Nov 2018

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

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Breazzano Center

209-215 Dryden Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850, United States

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Fred Keller is the Founder and Chair of Cascade Engineering, which he started in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1973. With a belief that you can have a successful business and still treat employees with dignity and respect, Fred began molding plastic parts with six employees in a 10,000 square foot building. Today, Cascade Engineering employs 1600 people across 15 facilities in six US locations and additional European operations in Budapest, Hungary.

Fred believes that business has the unique opportunity to complement its efforts on financial performance with important work in the social and environmental arenas. He has emphasized the key role business can play in building financial, social and ecological capital, often through partnerships with government and community agencies. His innovative management approach and work in advancing sustainability are featured regularly in business and industry publications.

What is the Upstate Owners Forum? 
Family businesses face unique challenges, as well as opportunities. To foster dialog, learning and growth to address and understand these challenges, the Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell is pleased to announce the formation of the Upstate Owners Forum for the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier of New York.  However, all qualified members of a family business are welcome to attend, regardless of your geographical locale. The Upstate Owners Forum is reserved for owners and members of family businesses only. This annual series seeks to connect owners from family and privately held enterprises to educate, network and inform.
Each forum will offer a featured speaker or content expert, sharing from those businesses present and an opportunity to inform future programs. Throughout the series, speakers will address those topics, as well as leadership, strategy and critical thinking. Forums WILL NOT feature selling from advisors or uninvited participants. These forums are private and confidential gatherings of only your family business peers.
The Upstate Owners Forum is made possible in part to a generous grant from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation. The Fred L. Emerson Foundation continues the work of Fred L. Emerson, who invested in individuals and the community with such humility that very few people knew of how many lives were impacted by his generosity. Under the leadership of the Emerson family, along with independent directors, the Foundation continues Fred L. Emerson’s legacy as especially vigilant investors in select organizations where it believes it can make a critical and significant difference.

What is a Forum?  
  • Private and confidential
  • Invited and qualified participants only
  • A safe place for question and inquiry
  • Peers sharing experiences with peers
  • Intimate, diverse and innovative  
What a forum is not?
  • A place to sell your product or service
  • A setting to brag about your accomplishments
  • An arena to air your dirty laundry
Dress Business Casual

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Breazzano Center

209-215 Dryden Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850, United States


Fred Keller, BS '66

Chairman and CEO

Cascade Engineering

As CEO of Cascade Engineering, Fred Keller established a welfare-to-career program that employed more than 500 low-income community members. Founded by Keller in 1973, the Michigan manufacturing firm produces injection-molded products for customers including Herman Miller, Waste Management, and the big-three American automakers. He received the 1988 Ron Brown Award for Corporate Citizenship, and the 2002 Large Employer of the Year Award from Goodwill Industries.

Hosted By

Smith Family Business Initiative
Co-hosted with: Family Business Club, Smith Family Business Initiative (OWNER)

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