Family Business Center

Family Business Center

Staying Entrepreneurial as a Family Business

Friday, December 13, 7:30 AM

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When the family legacy is built on a particular product or service, family businesses can sometimes have a hard time being entrepreneurial. This can lead to limited growth and even threaten the viability of the business. Hear from a panel of family business owners who have successfully been entrepreneurial over time while also staying loyal to their roots. Moderated by David Deeds, Ph.D., a faculty member of the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship and Family Business Center Fellow, this conversation will help you think about how growth in your family business can serve future generations without threatening your family legacy.


Paul Wagner,  MN Wire
Paul Wagner joined his father’s computer-cable manufacturing business, Minnesota Wire, in 1985. Two weeks later, he informed his dad that he was going to run the family business someday. Paul Wagner followed through on that promise, becoming CEO in 2000 and chairman in 2007.

Along the way, Wagner helped convert Minnesota Wire into a broader-based business. That expansion started just before he joined the company, when projects from Medtronic and other med-tech firms opened the door to the medical industry. Wires for patient-monitoring devices and drug delivery systems remain a core component of the company’s business today.

Thor W. Becken, Cemstone
Thor Becken is president of Cemstone Products Company, Mendota Heights, Minn.,, a fourth-generation family business that began in St. Paul in 1927 and continues to serve the Twin Cities and surrounding region, providing advanced, high-quality concrete products to both commercial and residential markets. After graduating from the University of St. Thomas in 1981, he moved to Philadelphia, Penn., and worked for the Allentown Portland Cement Company, returning to St. Paul in 1984 when he assumed responsibility for sales and marketing within the family business.  In 1992, he was promoted to the position of president.  Through his professional career, Becken has served on the boards of the St. Paul Heritage Foundation, Lyngblomsten Foundation, the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, the Builder’s Exchange of St. Paul, as well as serving on the National Ready Mix Concrete Association executive committee. Currently, Becken serves on the boards of Regions Hospital Foundation, the Aggregate Ready Mix Concrete Association of Minnesota, and the St. Croix River Crossing Coalition.  He has been honored as the “Top Influencer of the Concrete Industry” in 2007 and has also received various awards for sales performance, product quality and operating innovations within the construction industry. 


David Deeds, Ph.D.

David Deeds is currently the Schulze Chair in Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas, director of the Morrison Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and a fellow to the Family Business Center. During his career, he has held faculty positions at the University of Texas at Dallas, the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and the Fox School of Business at Temple University. He founded the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Dallas and created the concentration in Bioscience Entrepreneurship at the Weatherhead School of Management. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1994. In 2001 he was a named research fellow at Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship. In 2007, Deeds was awarded the Haniel Fellowship in Entrepreneurship at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. In 2009-2010 he was the chair of the Entrepreneurship Interest Group of the Strategic Management Society.

Prior to pursuing a career as an academic, Deeds was co-founder, with his brother, of LightSpeed Corporation, a computer hardware and software developer specializing in custom CAD/CAM computer systems, from 1983-1989. He has provided executive seminars for companies around the globe, including Alcoa, Cardinal Health, Digicel, Lubrizol, MedRad, The American Society of Manufacturers, The Industrial Distributors Association, SAFRAN, Ameriprise, United Supermarkets, Champion Technologies and numerous other companies and community organizations. In addition, he has worked as a strategy consultant to a number of companies including ALCOA and Champion Technologies. Deeds’ particular areas of specialization are strategy, technology management, innovation and entrepreneurial thinking in corporate environments, and the management of joint ventures and strategic alliances.

He has been published in international journals on family business and teaches a course at St. Thomas focused on entrepreneurship and innovation in Family Business.

A note to family business advisors: The breakfast series is restricted to members of family businesses.

Event Details:
Friday, December 13, 7:30 AM

University of St. Thomas
Opus College of Business
1000 LaSalle Ave
Opus Hall
Room 201/202
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Register now »