History of the Center

A Brief History of the Center

The Center started in 1993 as the Penley Forum for Family-Owned Business. This forum was designed for family-owned and managed businesses with gross sales in excess of $5 million or more than 20 employees. The Forum was named for a 1932 UNH alumnus, Howard Penley, whose family owned the Penley Corporation in West Paris, Maine. Founded in 1928, the Penley Corporation manufactured wooden clothespins for over 80 years.

The Shapiro Forum for the Entrepreneurial Family was started in 1994 to provide a range of service to smaller family-owned businesses. The Shapiro Forum was founded by Irwin Muskat, then president of Jac Pac Foods in Manchester, in honor of his grandfather, Alex Shapiro, and uncle, Lester Shapiro, a 1938 UNH Alum.

In 1997, recognizing that family owned businesses of all size experience the same dynamics and challenges, the two programs were combined under the UNH Center for Family Business name with all members attending meeting together. And today membership is open to all family businesses large and small in all industries.