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A Boost for Family Businesses

When Cindy Ayloush joined the Center for Family Business more than a decade ago, she was wrestling with what to do with the family-owned Hydraflow.

“My mother and father had owned 80 percent of the company. I was struggling with what we were going to do with this business,” said the CEO and CFO of the company, which manufactures aerospace and defense systems components.

Ayloush began attending the workshops offered by the center and signed up two of her children for the Family Business Dynamics course, where they learned there are best practices in family business. She also benefited from seminars that taught her about succession planning and the importance of buy/sell agreements. The head of Hydraflow also met her first consultant, who helped the company strike a balance with the family’s third generation.

“I realized we could transition to a true family business by getting my three children and my brother’s three children involved,” said Ayloush. “It has helped my family and our nonfamily employees learn about family businesses. It has given them a sense of security.”

Housed within Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, the center was established in 1995 “to help family businesses succeed and maintain their legacy,” said Ed Hart, the center’s director. “Some family businesses are established to create financial freedom for the family; others are established with the idea of maintaining them for generations to come. We identify what their needs are and try to help them through workshops, peer-to-peer affinity groups, special events and our annual Family Business Hall of Fame.”

Today, about 60 family businesses are members of the center.

Ten years ago, Ayloush and other supporters created the Rick Muth Endowed Chair for Family Business, a professorship specializing in family business instruction, research and special projects. The $1.5 million endowment was the first of its kind at Cal State Fullerton and is named after the CEO of ORCO Block and Hardscape, Rick Muth, who led the campaign.

Tam Nguyen ’05 (M.B.A.), president of Advance Beauty College, is interim chair and a second-generation family business owner. He is teaching the Family Business Dynamics course, which focuses on unique issues faced by family-owned and -operated businesses. The course is open to juniors and seniors at the university, as well as the public.

Nguyen was inspired to accept the position so he could give back. “My family business has learned so much from our colleagues and the speakers. We feel grateful to make a difference in the community,” he explained, adding that he has been able to meet “gold-standard businesses” through his involvement with the Center for Family Business. “My hope is to contribute to the next generation of family business owners by sharing what I have learned.”

The center is important to the community, said Ayloush, because “probably 80 percent of all businesses in California are family-owned. We have formed common bonds because we have the same problems and issues as other family business owners. We have formed a network of friends that we can go to for advice. The best advice we get in the center is from other members.”

To contribute to the Center for Family Business, contact Paul Stover, interim senior director of development for Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, at 657-278-2857 or