Family Business Program (ECHO)

Atlantic Canada has the highest density of multi-generational family businesses in Canada. It is critical to assure that these businesses will continue to be headquartered in the region. The next generation faces unique challenges as they establish their own identity as part of the family business(es).

As such, ECHO was established in 2009 by the Wallace McCain Institute (WMI). The goal is to provide a network of peer to peer support to the next generation of family business leaders in order to improve succession success. The first forum was dedicated to family businesses on the New Brunswick Business Council.

WMI starts new ECHO groups based on interest.

Once 25 people have expressed a desire to learn more about forming a group, we contact those individuals and set up a focus group for all parties at a mutually agreed to time. ECHO1 started in March 2009, ECHO2 started in September 2011,  ECHO3 started in February 2014 and ECHO4 started in Spring 2019.

To submit an expression of interest, complete the application here.


The profile of the participants in the ECHO program ranges across a wide variety of family business members. Do any of the following resonate with you?

  • “I don’t want this to fail on my watch.”
  • “I don’t know if I am “the one” … he hasn’t clearly talked about it.”
  • “I‘m too far into this to ask for help. I’m supposed to know.”
  • “There is a huge expectation that goes with this last name.”
  • “The trouble is, Dad is both a help and a hindrance.”
  • “I wish that it didn’t have to be my father teaching me the business.”
  • “I doubt my abilities because there is always a safety net under me.”
  • “Some days I doubt he will ever let go and let me take the reins.”
  • “Am I ready to run this… and what do I do if I’m not?”
  • “My spouse and I want to do things differently with our kids.”

Customized Format

The program location, frequency, dates and format are customized to the group members that are chosen. The “Expression of Interest” survey form gathers input from potential members on their desired program structure. As an illustrative example, the most recent group of ECHO meets bimonthly outside Miramichi NB for a 24-hour period at an annual fee of $3500.

Download our printable brochure