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Top 500 2015 People

American Small Business League

Every year, the U.S. government reports spending more than $540 billion (not including classified acquisitions and exemptions, which likely push the actual total above $1 trillion) on federal procurement, making it the world’s largest buyer of goods and services. To ensure economic justice and create new jobs, in 1953, Congress enacted the Small Business Act, which requires 23 percent of all federal contracts be awarded to small businesses annually.

But over the years, many large, often multinational corporations have used loopholes in the act to procure government contracts that should have been granted to small businesses (those with fewer than 100 employees). In 2004, Petaluma-based American Small Business League (ASBL) was formed to promote the interests of legitimate small businesses, which are the backbone of the U.S. economy; reverse policies that have hurt small businesses seeking contracts with the federal government; support policy makers who help small businesses and oppose those who don’t; and ensure the Small Business Act is enforced and that the small business procurement goal is increased.

ASBL founder Lloyd Chapman, who’s been championing this cause since the 1980s, has an impressive track record, including several successful lawsuits (even against the SBA itself) forcing disclosure of government contracting data, closing loopholes and leading campaigns to remove large firms from eligible small business databases. He’s also testified before Congress on related issues and appeared on national television news programs to discuss related issues.
To support, join or simply learn more about the American Small Business League, visit

Moving On

International business consulting firm PwC recently published its fourth U.S. family business survey report, which focuses on “what it mans to be a family business in the 21st century.” Based on interviews with 154 U.S.-based family firms, ranging from entrepreneurial startups to companies that have survived more than five generations, PwC shines a light on topics such as recovery (from the recession) and the necessity of reinvention, the role of technology, the importance of professionalization, family dynamics and succession planning.
Among the business owners interviewed in-depth is Napa Valley winery owner Dennis Groth (Groth Vineyards & Winery), who weighs in on a number of these topics. His take on succession is particularly interesting: “Wine tends to be a personal product, and so customers are interested in the story of the family and is connection to the wine. Larger, corporate entities have a more difficult time maintaining that storyline.”
Groth and his wife, Judy, own 55 percent of the business between them—and they aren’t planning to retire anytime soon. Still, they’re already making plans to avoid “sticky baton syndrome” (defined by founders who find it hard to let go). The Groth’s two children currently fill key roles (and each owns 22.5 percent), and Groth notes, “I’ll have no difficulty relinquishing the CEO role when the time comes.”
With transition plans already in-the-works, Groth is ahead of more than one-third of companies interviewed for the study, as evidenced by these statistics:
Companies with a Plan for Key Senior Roles
All senior roles               21%
Most senior roles           28%
Small # of senior roles   18%
None                              29%
Only 41% with a succession plan in place say it’s robust and documented (that’s only 27% of all family businesses). Five percent of respondents replied either “don’t know” or “other.”


In this Issue


A gleaming bottle of fine wine with a perfect, natural cork has a special mystique. And while the wine within is the primary focus, the cork has a vital role, too. The distinctive pop that goes wi...

The Great Gravenstein

The drive to Walker Apples in Graton is as picturesque as Sonoma County gets. What were once miles of apple orchards along Graton Road are now seemingly endless views of vineyards. West County looks...

The Mondavi Legacy

The name Mondavi has been woven into the fabric of Napa Valley lore for as long as anyone can remember. The story begins more than 100 years ago, when Cesare and Rosa Mondavi moved to Minnesota from...

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