“How-To’s”: Planned and Unexpected Family Business Transitions

December 07, 2023

8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. - In-Person, 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. - Zoom
BerryDunn – 2211 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04102 and Zoom
Planned and Unexpected Family Business Transitions - Free for members and guests, $35 for future (non) members in-person, $15 for future (non) members on ZOOM
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Transitioning a family business to the next generation is hard. It’s even harder when the transition is necessitated by forces outside of your control. Participants in this session will hear stories from other family business leaders on what to do (or not do) to ensure your business is ready for the next generation of leadership. 50% of business owners leave involuntarily: death, disability, divorce, distress/departure, or disagreement. What is the impact of these involuntary departures and how does a family business recover?

Making the decision to retire from a family business and making the transition successful is a set of skills that most business owners do not have but have to learn. We’ll also learn ways to address the elements of a good family business transition that factors in employees and family members.  Join us for a discussion with family business leaders who have faced such scenarios. We’ll learn from their experiences and glean what steps you can take to prepare for the unexpected.

Watch the recording here:


Karin Gregory, Managing Partner, Blue Highway Growth Capital

Karin is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Blue Highway Capital. She has over 30 years of business experience as an attorney, executive and early stage investor. She spent five years as Vice President at Mass Ventures, an early stage socially responsible venture capital fund focused on urban and rural areas of Massachusetts. Prior to co-founding Blue Highway, Karin served as chair of CEI Ventures, a socially responsible impact private equity firm and served on the board of its parent company, Coastal Enterprises, Inc (CEI), a nonprofit leader and investor specializing in rural business and community development, financing and related policy. She has served on numerous for-profit and non-profit boards throughout New England and is a long time member of The Boston Club.

In 2006, Karin co-founded Furman, Gregory Deptula (FGD Law), a full service law firm which represents early stage technology companies and investors throughout New England. Karin has extensive contacts throughout the region’s technology, business, and civic communities. She is active in a number of relevant industry and professional organizations and is frequently a guest speaker at many private equity events throughout the Northeast. Karin holds a B.A. degree from Wells College, an M.P.H. from Boston University in Health Services, and a J.D. degree from UNH School of Law, as well as a certificate in Advanced Licensing. Karin is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts and Maine.

Family Business Panelists: 

Jeffrey Messer, President, Messer Truck Equipment

In 2003, Jeffrey Messer joined Messer Truck Equipment, becoming the fourth generation in his family’s business, which was founded in 1899 by his great-grandfather Walter Messer. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in Ocean Engineering, Jeff served in the U.S. Navy for five years as a surface warfare officer and nuclear power engineer before returning to Maine and entering the family business. He has worked in various areas of the company, including service, parts, and sales in an effort to learn the business from the ground-up. In 2008, he was named company president after his father’s untimely passing. Jeff and his wife, Alissa, have three children and split time between Raymond and Matinicus Island.


Darin Shaw, Operator, Gorham Sand & Gravel

Gorham Sand and Gravel was founded in 1987 by Tom and Jim Shaw, and focuses on Commercial, Residential, and Municipal sitework contracting. Darin is a second generation family member to the business. Gorham Sand & Gravel also provide aggregates, mobile crushing and screening services, and commercial  dump truck services.




Ron Howard, Manager/Farmer, Brodis Blueberries                    

 Ron Howard’s grand children are the 9th generation to have lived and worked on their 170 acre wild blueberry farm and this past harvest there were 15 family members engaged. His original career led him to the Bass Shoe Company where he worked for 23 years ending as their Director of Human Resources for worldwide operations. In his “Pre-retirement” he then managed 2 nonprofit farms developing youth programs and created sustainable farming initiatives for statewide farmers.

Following the passing of his father-in-law in 2016 he fully retired to become a wild blueberry farmer and worked directly with his mother-in-law to manage all field operations, harvests, marketing and sales of their crop. Recognizing that 100’s of wild blueberry growers had gone out of business due to poor wholesale markets, they understood that making changes were going to be necessary to survive and reach the 10th generation. This led them to develop direct market efforts and invest in cutting edge equipment made possible by partnering with a wide variety of resources throughout the State of Maine that are available to farmers and many to all small businesses.

Sponsored By:


Let’s Do Business Together!

Get in touch with us via phone, email, or online contact form, and we’ll be in touch to discuss the ways in which we can work together.

P.O. Box 3364
Portland, Maine 04104 USA