Lefever takes helm of Family Business Program
By Ryan Miller

From agriculture to industrial to service-oriented to Internet, the new director of GC’s Family Business Program has succeeded in nearly every type of business. The future, he says, lies in information.
Allon H. Lefever of Lancaster, Pa., former vice president of acquisitions for EarthLink, the nation’s second-largest Internet service provider, will begin as executive director of the GC program July 1, 2001.
Lefever is a former member of the Goshen College board of overseers, and, with his wife, Doris, has three children who attended – Rod ’88, Jeff ’93 and Debra ’01. He also knows about family-owned businesses; he began working for his father’s wholesale florist business in eastern Pennsylvania at the age of 12 and has been involved with several family-owned businesses professionally.
In 1999, Lefever founded and directed national Internet access company OneMain.com Inc. After bringing in $215 million in an initial public offering in early 1999 and acquiring 17 service providers across the country, EarthLink acquired OneMain.com in September 2000.
“I’ve had the unique experience of being invested in business management in three types of business – agriculture, industrial and Internet,” Lefever said. “I can relate to a fairly broad array of businesses.”
While individual entrepreneurs have been the bedrock of successful family businesses, Lefever said future generations of entrepreneurs will be Internet-oriented and even accidental. The volatility of today’s market means rapid success and rapid failure based on how effectively companies continue to develop far-reaching new ideas.
“Value used to be related to scarcity – supply and demand. In an information age, value comes from networking to everyone – plentitude,” Lefever said.
Lefever said successful businesses must focus on their own values within their corporate cultures, even if those values do not match those of corporate America. When he took OneMain.com public, an investor told him to eliminate his value statements from a presentation – “Get rid of that soft (stuff),” he said. Lefever left the values statement in his Wall Street presentation, and the company was lauded for those beliefs.
“You must start with a foundation of core beliefs – if I’m successful, what are my responsibilities?” Lefever said. OneMain.com’s statement included treating people with fairness and respect, exceeding quality expectations, honesty in business relationships, working for success of employees, customers and shareholders and developing innovative solutions to needs.
After graduating from Millersville (Pa.) University and earning a master’s degree in economics from Pennsylvania State University, Lefever worked for Victor F. Weaver Inc., a poultry business, in 1973, eventually overseeing food processing operations in four states. He also was senior vice president of affiliated companies for High Industries Inc., developing and operating companies in real estate, food service, hotels, steel, compact disc, cable and auto lending firms.

Return to June Bulletin contents
Commencement rites by Rachel Lapp
“Fling yourself…but, darling, don’t drop!” by President Shirley H. Showalter
Senior profiles: Ryan Kolb, Andrea Troyer, Joel Jimenez, Lora Nafziger, Greg Stahly, Melody Bennett, Deana Landis, Alicia Montoya and Rachel Glick
How Julia Kasdorf changed my life by Daniel Shank Cruz
Mennonite by choice by Joni S. Sancken ’98
A lifetime in family business: What I’ve learned by Leonard Geiser ’57 with Rachel Lapp

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