Dear CAFE Members and Friends,
On behalf of the Board of Directors of CAFE, I’d like to first thank all of the members of CAFE across Canada for their ongoing support of our association as evidenced by their continued or recent membership with their local Chapter. Also, I’d like to thank our volunteer Boards of Directors who serve locally and nationally, giving of their time and expertise to help direct the day to day operations as well as steer CAFE into the future. Further, I’d like to thank and acknowledge the excellent work done by our staff here in Oakville. As Treasurer Phil Symchych will report in due course, the association is in stable condition, generating a surplus, even in the face of having to write off Chapter dues owed but uncollected due to the failure of some Chapters to meet their obligations. I’ll come back to the “State of the Nation” of CAFE Chapters in a moment, before I do that, I’d like to also personally thank each of the national Board of Directors for their service and commitment to guiding CAFE in the present and for their courage to objectively consider the future of CAFE. Together, with staff, we have logged many miles and hours towards building a model for what a new and vibrant family enterprise association will be in Canada. This work hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t been without its challenges. Yet I believe each of us will feel a strong sense of satisfaction when our collective work and effort is revealed in the coming months.
As I mentioned earlier, part of our financial story includes the writing off of roughly $40,000 in Chapter dues. Treasurer Symchych can answer specific questions around this development, but I want to focus on what it means. In all of our own businesses, seeing flat organizational revenue combined with divisions that were generating losses would be an alarm bell for change. As business owners, investors, or managers - we would assess the situation and plot a course to make appropriate changes so that we became sustainable, grew and remained relevant. We would not ignore the numbers, we would not ignore the best practices of similar organizations, we would not ignore the rising tide of competition, nor would we ignore the trends in the marketplace and the expressed needs of our customers. And we would not do any of these just to protect the way we have always done things. Yet that is exactly what has happened in certain parts of our country where precisely that kind of resistance and territorial thinking has surfaced. Fortunately, a far greater proportion of the country sees the need, and the enormous opportunity, to reach many more Canadians and build a vibrant new organization on the shoulders of the old one. They share the position that, even with a solid balance sheet, none of us, strong or weak, are growing. None of us are reaching a respectable number of Canadians with the support and shared experience they need, especially at this historic point in time when so many are facing transitions in their family enterprises, whether they be business families or the advisors that work with them. And none of us are moving the needle and changing the statistics on outcomes for Canadian Family Enterprises. Well, that’s about to change.
We have remained fairly tight lipped about the reorganization in recent months. This was intentional as we’ve been very busy in the background, building and refining our plans based on feedback we’ve received from Chapters and stakeholders, and we wanted to advance our plans before providing another update. On that note, we’re making great progress on the reorganization and will be holding an information webinar for members in mid-March to provide more details on our exciting plans. The webinar will be recorded and it will be made available through future CAFE emails, on our website, and in social media. Crucial to our plans, and being one of the fundamental concerns expressed by Chapters during our cross country meetings, I’m excited to announce that fundraising efforts have begun and we have secured the necessary seed funding to support the reorganization during its three year path to self-sustainability. Further, working with an advertising firm, we have developed a fresh new graphic brand to support the ‘new’ CAFE – we’ll reveal this during the webinar with a more detailed announcement and reveal of our complete reorganization plans to follow at Symposium in May.
With that being said, stay tuned, and please be patient. Exciting times lie ahead, but in the meantime it is business as usual. Until we have completed the work and steps required to effect the reorganization, it is imperative that we continue to drive the current business model as effectively as we can and continue to serve our members, old and new. On that note, CAFE’s Family Enterprise Symposium in May in Calgary is going to be one the best conferences we’ve ever presented. The lineup of speakers and seminars are second to none. The location of the conference, our host hotel and our off-site dinner are all going to impress. So please come and join us, learn, and participate in the ONLY conference of its kind in Canada.
It has been my privilege to serve and that is my report as Chair of CAFE for the 2015 Annual General Meeting.
Allen S. Taylor, Chair
Canadian Association of Family Enterprise (CAFE)