About Our History
Established in 1994, Family Business Consulting Group co-founders Craig E. Aronoff and John L. Ward had worked together on various projects and initiatives since 1975. Already leaders in the field, they co-authored a monthly column in Nation’s Business magazine and had established a publishing firm, Business Owner Resources in 1989. The Family Business Advisor and the Family Business Leadership Series were begun in 1991.
Concerned that the rush of people promoting themselves as family business consultants and experts did not always provide the experience, professionalism and integrity that they believed family businesses deserve, Ward and Aronoff sought others who shared their philosophy and who wished to hone their abilities serving business-owning families. Four other experienced professionals joined the group at the beginning: Joseph Astrachan (who worked with Craig at Kennesaw State University), Drew Mendoza (who worked with John at Loyola University Chicago’s Family Business Center), Norbert Schwarz of Chicago (whose experience included banking and being a non-family executive in several family businesses) and Phil Sidwell of Atlanta (an industrial psychologist who had been working with family firms for thirty years). Headquarters was established in Marietta, Georgia.
In 1998, Drew Mendoza who was the founding director of the Loyola University Chicago Family Business Center resigned from both the university and his consulting activities to devote himself full-time as FBCG’s managing principal. FBCG acquired Business Owner Resources from John and Craig, renaming the publishing arm Family Enterprise Publishers, a division of the Family Business Consulting Group, Inc. In 2010, the Family Business Consulting Group agreed to have all of our published works edited, published and distributed by the international publishing firm of Palgrave MacMillan New York.
Over time, five of the original principals have retired as owners: Phil Sidwell retired in 2001; Joseph Astrachan to focus on academic pursuits at Kennesaw State University in 2005; Norbert Schwarz retired in 2015, and John Ward in late 2011 transitioned from principal and member of the board to senior advisor. Former owners Amy Schuman and Chris Eckrich have also transitioned to senior advisors in 2017. Senior advisor is a title reserved for those whose stock has been redeemed by the corporation as part of the firm’s intended ownership succession plans AND who continue to conduct their consulting services exclusively through FBCG. Over time, the group has welcomed seven new owners: Stephen McClure (2001), David Lansky (2010), Joe Schmieder (2012), Greg Greenleaf (2013), Dana Telford (2016), Michael Fassler (2016), Stephanie Brun de Pontet (2019), Barbara Dartt (2019) and David Karofsky (2020).
With our family business consultants located in Canada and throughout the United States, FBCG annually engages with hundreds of family businesses worldwide including some of the world’s largest, oldest and best known business-owning families. Our books, newsletters, speeches, audio conferences and web-based content reach tens of thousands yearly.
Our intention is similar to that of many of the family businesses we serve; to perpetuate the Family Business Consulting Group, Inc. across generations by constantly identifying and attracting outstanding professionals and continuously facilitating their improvement while reinvesting in our organization, methods and intellectual capital.