Back in 2002, the University of San Francisco – USF – contacted the Carl and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation based in Daly City for funding. Since one of the foundation’s goals is to support and contribute to education-related causes, the foundation agreed to give one-half million dollars to USF, which used the money to create a family business center on campus.
The Gellert Family Business Center at USF now recognizes and supports family-owned and operated businesses with an annual award, explained Director Monika Hudson. In order to be eligible for the award, a family-owned business must have been in business 15 years or longer and have no larger than $7 million in revenue.
In giving out the awards, the center looks at such things as whether or not a nominee has a family constitution, the beginning of a succession plan in place, what its operations systems look like, and its marketing and financing. The awards are given in May, during the National Small Business Week. Winners receive a certificate.
Family-owned businesses can nominate themselves, or nominations can come from the community. “We contact banks, etcetera,” Hudson said. “We recognize this is a somewhat arbitrary process.”
Many of the winners are not only family-owned and operated, but represent diversity. “You’ll see a lot of diversity just even in who the family is,” Hudson said.
One of this year’s recipients was the San Francisco-based MOET Institute, an independent, continuing medical education and research organization that helps fulfill the training need of practicing physicians and physicians in training. The MOET Institute was launched by Zoltan Szabo, who is from Hungary, and his wife, Wanda Toy, who is Chinese American.
“Our family is extremely honored to have received this award,” said the couple’s daughter, Marshika Szabo, who joined the business in 2009, and who serves as an operations and development manager, handling business development and marketing. “It is most especially a testament to my parents’ 30-plus years of operating their own organization, which is quite unique as far as family businesses go,” she stated.
Szabo concluded, “I believe they succeeded where many others did not through a combination of tenacity and fearless integrity. For my parents to have run an organization at their level single-handedly speaks to their extraordinary strength and dedication to surgical education.”
Another award recipient this year was the Belvedere House – A bed and breakfast in San Francisco.
Winners in previous years have included Marcus Books, the oldest independent African American bookstore in the country, which was started by Raye Richardson and her husband Julian nearly 51 years ago; Tarantino Restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf, and Spinnaker Restaurant in Sausalito, which are owned by Tim and Will McDonnell; and BiRite Food Service in Brisbane, a food distributor to restaurants, hospitals, and universities that is operated by Bill Barulich, who serves as CEO, and Steve Barulich, who is president.
In addition to giving annual awards to family-owned business, the Gellert Family Business Center provides information to family-owned businesses that they can use. The center pairs USF faculty who are doing research on such issues as social media and business analytics with family-owned businesses.
The Gellert Family Business Center also provides USF students with an opportunity to work with family-owned and operated businesses that they might not otherwise have.
Additionally, the Gellert Family Business Center links with other family-owned business centers, including one in Monterey and another in Brazil. The center is awaiting a new Web site, and the goal is to provide a link to these other family-owned and operated centers on the new Web site, according to Hudson.
Without the support from the Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation, “We certainly would not have the position or establishment we have,” explained Hudson. “We wouldn’t be here this long.”
“They have done a good job and continued to grow the program,” said Executive Director Jack Fitzpatrick of the Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation. “The money was well-invested. The program has matured into something a lot more professional than it was in 2002.”
“An award is an honor,” said Karen Johnson, daughter of the Richardsons, and co-owner of Marcus Books. “It was nice getting it from a humanitarian source, like the Gellert family,” she said. Johnson has recently received a master’s degree from USF, and she added that USF students and faculty frequently come to Marcus Books, and the store has also had interns from USF. “It’s a good collaboration,”she elaborated.