Family Business Club is Among Newest SGA-Affiliated Organizations

January 24, 2024

Last semester, the Family Business Club officially became an affiliated club through the Student Government Association (SGA) thanks to the efforts of Gabriella DiSanto ’25.

Carol Wittmeyer and Gabriella DiSanto

A part of the School of Business’ Family Business Program, the club provides meaningful opportunities for students to connect with peers and professionals who are interested in working (or who currently work) in family-owned firms.

Through a semester-long Honors Keystone Experience, DiSanto focused her efforts on bringing the Family Business Club to life through a new affiliation with SGA. Her keystone had three parts: her role in the Family Business Program, sample work from an internship with her family’s business, and learnings about how she recruited students for the club. She worked alongside Dr. Carol Wittmeyer, director of the Family Business Program, to accomplish her goals.

“I was a transfer student the spring of my first year in college and the first time I got involved was in Organizational Behavior instructed by Professor Vanderlinde. He asked the class if there was anyone who had a family business and I said yes. I was quickly introduced to Dr. Wittmeyer and that’s how my involvement with family business at Fisher started,” said DiSanto.

DiSanto became a student face of the Family Business Program by participating in monthly steering committee meetings and attending programming. She also attended the Cornell Families in Business Conference to meet with the president of the University’s Family Business Club and learn about their operations, gather insights into club success, and develop new ideas to bring back to campus.

“It’s just a wonderful opportunity and gift to work with students. Gabriella set clear deliverables and met them. She worked with other students and asked for advice, and in my opinion, we ended up with a stronger application because of her work,” said Wittmeyer, who also serves as the club’s faculty advisor.

DiSanto’s family has owned Jet Gas Inc. for four generations; the company has been meeting energy demands since 1937 and delivers propane services for residential needs through DiSanto Propane while also operating the nationwide cylinder exchange service known as Mighty Flame.

In her time as a business management intern, DiSanto focused on cost management and developing a strategic handbook. Her project in cost management involved identifying business expenses, conducting cost analyses, pinpointing unnecessary expenditures, and implementing strategies to trim costs and boost profitability. The strategic handbook, which is still in development, involves an exploration of firms where DiSanto is crafting a multi-state employee handbook including conduct consultations, defined goals, assessments of vendor compatibility, price gathering, and a present comprehensive comparison to facilitate informed decision-making.

The final stretch of her keystone included meeting with SGA and filling out the correct documents to make the club official. This included an about, mission, and vision statement. Then she began to recruit interested students. The club currently has 13 members, with three of them comprising an Executive Board (president, vice president, and treasurer). Student/family firms represented include Mighty Flame, Disanto Propane, Rochester Red Wings, Heidrich Landscaping, Giovanni Foods, FourM Consulting, Industrial Associated Riggers, NextPet, Fred F. Collis and Sons Inc., and Farewells Reselling Discounted Home Furnishings.

“Part of being ‘Day 1 Ready’ is getting out into the real world with other students, and clubs offer opportunities to host speakers, plan business visits, and so much more,” said Wittmeyer. “What makes me most excited for the club to be affiliated with SGA is that students can apply for funding to further professional development.”

For information on how to join the Family Business Club, visit Cardinal Hub.