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Center of Attention: An Interview with Drew Mendoza

In honor of the Loyola Family Business Center’s 25th Anniversary, we decided to go back to our roots and conduct interviews with some of the original founders. Without their help, the Loyola Family Business Center would not be what it is today. Our first interview is with Drew Mendoza, who directed the Center for 10 years (1989-1999):

Mendozafinal

How has family business evolved over the last 25 years? 

The biggest change has been a broader awareness of the family enterprise as a distinct market. You can see it in the marketing plans of many service providers. Nevertheless, business-owning families continue to face challenges with respect to balancing the needs and wants of both the family and the business.

 

Can you share your memories of some of your experiences of the early members of the Center?

I was recruited by Moni Murdoch, Bud Murdoch and John Ward to be the Founding Director. It was a wonderful opportunity: paid $2,000/month. I worked from home in my unfinished basement on a makeshift desk built from a countertop and two used file cabinets; all of my work was on an IBM Selectric Typewriter.

Our first event was held at the InterContinental on Michigan Avenue. We attracted about 300 people. I remember having to phone the Quill warehouse at 1am to arrange for a last minute pick up of extra folders. I told the head of security that the Miller family was going to be at the event and how disappointed they’d be if we weren’t able to use their products. It was a lot of work but we made it happen.

Every week, John, Moni, Bud and I met for breakfast to talk planning-and-strategy. We had a monthly newsletter and I’d hire neighborhood children to fold them and affix mailing labels. Eloise, my wife, worked for John back in those days as his personal assistant out of his home in Evanston. We were in line to adopt a baby from The Cradle; Elena turns 25 next week.  She was in a playpen most days, right next to me in the basement office.

Over time, we worked out the bugs (most of them), generated enough revenue to be self-sustaining, hired staff, began building the library, moved from our basement to Loyola, hired research fellows (Melissa Shanker and Sharon Krone), launched a task force of senior generation members to offer guidelines and best practices for letting go, and brought in Amy Schuman to design and launch the Next Generation Leadership Institute. Our board of directors included Steve Thorne (Arthur Andersen), Sarah Hamilton (Family Office Exchange), Irv Blackman (Blackman Kallick), Chet Gougis (Duff & Phelps) and others whose names I can’t remember but who all contributed time, financial support and newsletter content.

I spent ten years as the Center’s director. Andrew Keyt joined us (I think) in my eighth year. When I left in 1999 to become managing principal of the company John Ward, Joe Astrachan, Craig Aronoff, myself, and a few others began in 1994 (The Family Business Consulting Group), I handed over the Center’s leadership to Andrew who has done a fantastic job.

 

In your opinion, how has the Family Business Center impacted our families and the field overall?

The Loyola Family Business Center has set the bar for excellence in business-owning family education. It serves families in a variety of ways. It’s an entry portal for families beginning to think about family and shareholder development and also a place for advanced and ongoing learning.

 

Our thanks to Drew Mendoza for his years of service, and everything he did to set the Center up for success.

 

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  • By Otis Baskin on 3.28.2016 at 10:03 am

    The work Drew, John and others did at Loyola was both enlightening and inspiring for many of us in Business Schools around the world. Their knowledge and direct help were instrumental in the success of our forum at Memphis and later in the development of our MBA course at Pepperdine. Drew’s strategic management expertise and leadership ability has been a driving force behind the unparalleled success of The Family Business Consulting Group. The world of Management Education has been greatly enriched by the spotlight Loyola has shined on Family Business for 25 years – Congratulations!

    Otis W. Baskin, Ph.D.
    Emeritus Professor of Management and Former Dean
    The Graziadio School
    Pepperdine University

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