Retreat Reflections from EFBC Members

A quick visit to our homepage,, will have you met with an abundance of information from blogs to events to membership benefits and everything in between. A smart eye will see the words “forum” and “peer group” sprinkled throughout the pages. EFBC is good at many things, but we excel at forums. Our peer group model is extremely successful. Additionally, we are proud to boast a high member retention rate, to which we attribute to the forum model. A component of forum that isn’t talked about enough but provides extreme value to members is retreat.

Each forum goes on an annual retreat. Retreats are 3 days away together and are only for active members in the forum. Retreat gives members time for introspection and time for shared experiences and personal growth. The retreat is an opportunity for members to reflect on their past and explore their future within an environment that is confidential and open.

We asked some of our members who recently went on retreat and here’s what they had to say:

“Bonding: As a business owner and a family man I have no time to create these special bonds with others. I am either taking the kids some place, trying to make plans with my wife or having to work. I don’t have time for myself to create these outside bonds with others. This is a way for me to really talk to each person in my forum and create individual bonds. I guess I really enjoy hearing about other people that have to deal with the same struggles I do. It helps show that we are not alone dealing with issues in our business. Other people have problems with staff and have dealt with their situation in a certain way. I get to hear from 5 others in a safe group setting on how they deal with a problem and maybe it can help me get through mine.

Confidentiality: At our retreat a lot gets talked about our businesses and personal life that really allows for us to open up to each other. Hearing and understanding what the other person is going through. It was made clear from the start of forum that confidentiality is so important and that at our retreat you can talk about anything with no judgement. There is not a subject that I feel uncomfortable talking about to each of the others members. We really get to dive deep on retreat because of the time we get to spend with each other. You never feel like you don’t have the time to let it all out. I think that the retreat really helps form a great way for us to kick off the year of forum with a new outlook on things.” – Scott Lichtenstein, President, Richardson Seating Corporation

“For me the forum experience is the best part of my EFBC membership. The monthly meetings are a great time to talk shop with other business owners in similar positions to me. But the retreats are where we make and reinforce the personal connections we lean on during the rest of the year. The monthly meetings are so much more valuable because I know my forum mates personally so well. And that personal relationship really stems from the exercises and time we spend together at retreat.” – Jay Smith, President, MacGill

“My first retreat gave me pause and reflection for weeks before I went. My forum had been together for a few years, and I was the new member attending. Everyone had such exciting and warm emotions before attending. I was scared. I wasn’t sure how I was going to meld into the group. When I arrived at the house, I didn’t bring my things inside or pick a room. Part of me wasn’t sure if I was going to stay. To top it off, they suggested that I present first to the group. Here I went… vulnerable and raw with my lifeline and then the assignment. So many emotions, from tears of sadness to tears of joy. My group welcomed me with open arms and showed me that strangers can make lasting friendships when you allow them in your life.” – Colleen Kramer, President, Evergreen Supply Co.

“I feel that retreat is an opportunity to go deep with content as well as relationships with my fellow forum members. I find that retreats are also a chance to challenge me to listen more, reflect more, and love more. Retreats are at the center of what the EFBC is all about.” – Eric Weinstein, Principal, Specialty Store Services

“Retreat is something I look forward to each year. I always enjoy the presentation topic and this year was no exception, The Road Ahead. Through my preparation I was able to think about where I wanted to go and create a path on how to get there. I discussed my obstacles with my forum and received amazing shared experiences. We also had time to hang out as a group and our group activity this year was a hot air balloon ride. It was breathtaking and an experience I think everyone should do. Over the three days we spent together our relationships deepened and I got the chance to just be me. It is an incredible experience and feeling to know you are around people that will support you and allow you the safe space to express what you are going through without judgement.” – Nicole Ziemba, Chief Compliance Officer, Primrose Candy Company

“The retreats have been critical to the success of forum. Retreats breed connectedness, or even call it intimacy, and intimacy or connectedness is critical to the year’s forum meetings being enriching for the presenters as well as the forum at large. The richness of a forum is critical for sharing a deepness to the experiences we all have personally, professionally and within our families. I am grateful for the retreat we had this year and the connectedness we all feel currently as we move into our year of forum meetings.” – Jon Kabance, President, Biokinetix

“Other than the opportunity for reflection and planning, I feel that the outside activities bring the group closer together. Our recent retreat we went a hot air balloon ride of which a few members were originally uncomfortable but did so anyways. During the ride it was great and everyone was relaxed and had the opportunity to do something that is unique and memorable.” – Mike Walsh, Vice President Business Development, ATMI Precast

“Retreat for me is always a highlight of the year. It has all the benefits of forum and then some, but without the same time constraints. It’s an opportunity to do a deeper dive and reflect on my life and business as a whole rather than one specific issue. I share those reflections with my forum members and learn from their questions and experiences. Since at retreat we all do the same exercise, it is interesting to see each member’s take on the exercise, their presentation, and their insights. I don’t have another place where I can explore issues as deeply and get rich feedback from trusted friends.” – B.J. Slater, President, Plant Marvel

Of course, these are only a few voices that live within EFBC, but the message is clear. The value in retreat, to supplement the forum experience, is un-matched. Retreat allows members to not only go deeper with themselves, but with each other. It strengthens the health of the forum and aids their longevity. We have groups that have been together for 25 years, and we are proud of that. Members who have leaned into forum state that they have not only become better in their business, but better in their families and their friendships.

Interested in joining EFBC and experiencing forum and retreat? Learn more about forum and join today!


The Benefits of Retreat

After a 2-year hiatus, this month my forum went on our annual retreat. Retreat is part of the forum protocol that ideally takes place annually. Retreat is an important part of the forum experience. We rented a house in Lake Geneva and missed the warm weather by just one week. Nevertheless, it was an amazing experience. With two new members and another two members joining our forum a bit over a year ago, we had so much to learn about each other.

My forum mates and I spent some time reflecting on our previous retreats as well as the past two years. We’ve had members come and go, and each one of them provided so much value to each of our experiences. The greatest appreciation I’ve had was the depth that members shared of the challenges and struggles they faced. Digging deep down to the bottom 1% is never easy. It is beyond difficult to be vulnerable. However, the times that I have been vulnerable, I’ve experienced some magical things within myself. I’ve felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I’ve earned respect, admiration, and appreciation from my forum mates. Also, it has allowed other members to feel more secure and comfortable knowing that I entrusted them with things not mentioned to others.

I hope all of you have had similar experiences as I have had. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon as I continue my journey.

Andy Sanghani
EFBC President 2022-2023






Exciting New Options for EFBC Membership and Forums!

Making the new year even brighter for our EFBC Community!

For many of you, July marks the midway point of the year. For us at EFBC, it’s the start of our fiscal year with all the excitement that a new year brings. We are eager to create new opportunities by introducing additional ways for members to join and experience our amazing community.

The last few years have proven how important being part of a community of brilliant business owners, entrepreneurs and key employees really is for each of us and our companies. Navigating the pandemic made us all re-evaluate and re-imagine how we are doing business. EFBC is no different. As we look to attract members in our increasingly digital and demanding world, it became abundantly apparent that for us to better serve a more diverse set of needs, we needed to expand our membership and Forum offerings.

We are thrilled to announce that effective July 1, 2022, EFBC will offer a new membership level – Pro Membership – as well as a Flex Forum option. Keep reading for all the details!

Membership Levels

Our traditional membership level will now be referred to as Enterprise Membership. Our Enterprise Members will continue to enjoy all the same benefits you do today, including placement in Full Forum (more on that in a minute!), extension of EFBC membership to all your team members, add-on members at a reduced price, etc. In a nutshell, everything you love about membership stays intact – but now you get a cool new name as Enterprise!

For those looking to step in to EFBC, or whose life circumstances are making them need to take a step back, we are launching Pro Memberships. More and more, we are hearing from potential members that they know they need a peer group but are concerned about the time commitment membership requires. And we have had numerous members step away from EFBC as their commitments changed, be it kids’ travel sports or the need to care for an aging parent. Pro Membership allows these individuals to join or remain in our community to experience the benefits with a more flexible time commitment. While they will not receive all the benefits of our “Traditional-now-Enterprise” members, they will become or remain a part of our community, share their brilliance and grow our reach. It is a win for all of us!


Forum Options

Here’s where those details on “Full Forum” as mentioned above come in!

We know how important the Forum experience is at EFBC. Forum is the monthly small group meetings that have long been at the heart of EFBC. But we also know that Forum, as it has traditionally existed at EFBC, is not for everyone. Especially as business is re-imagined for many, the commitment to a monthly meeting can seem overwhelming. That’s why along with our Pro Membership we are excited to launch Flex Forum.

For existing EFBC members, just as with Enterprise Membership, everything you love about your Forum remains. You just get another cool name change to Full Forum! In Full Forum you will continue to practice protocols, enhance you EI skills, and most importantly, continue to meet every month with the Forum mates you’ve come to rely on and trust. Full Forum will remain the peer group experience  that 85% of our current members said keeps them involved in EFBC (from our 2022 Member Engagement Survey).

Flex Forum is an offering for Pro Members. As the name implies, members have the flexibility to attend Flex Forum as frequently or as infrequently as needed. In other words, they can enjoy the community and support of a peer group in a more relaxed manner without a commitment to monthly attendance. Flex Forum is also a great benefit for Enterprise and Add-on Members who may want an additional peer meeting to get some differing shared experiences outside of their Full Forum.

Flex Forum will initially meet monthly on every third Wednesday in the morning at the EFBC offices in downtown Chicago. Attendance will be limited to 12 individuals each meeting with Pro, Enterprise and Add-On members all welcome, as well as Strategic Partners seeking a Forum meeting. As Flex Forum grows, we will add additional dates and locations.

One item to keep in mind: Because Flex Forum is not mandatory, attendance each month will undoubtedly vary. If you are seeking the full peer group experience where your forum mates become your board of advisors and know your business as well as you do, Enterprise Membership with Full Forum is the best choice for you.


We Heard You!

To our existing members, we heard you! We kept everything you love about EFBC and gave you an additional way to enjoy Forum and our community should the need ever arise.

To our potential members, we heard you! We know finding the right peer group and committing to a mandatory monthly meeting can be intimidating. We created Pro membership and Flex Forum to let you finally experience all the benefits of our community for yourself. We have no doubt you belong here!

To all, please reach out to Liz with any questions or to find out how you can get involved. And please share this information with your network, especially those folks you’ve been talking to about EFBC. Together, we are going to create an amazing new year!