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Succeeding for generations

Stories of the world’s most enduring family businesses

Succeeding for generations
Stories of the world’s most enduring family businesses

Contents

2

Introduction

The history of Ernst & Young

4

Arvid Nordquist Sweden

77

Bankhaus Spängler Austria

7

Van Oord The Netherlands

83

Rothschild France

15

GMR Group India

89

Obeikan Investment Group Saudi Arabia

21

The growth DNA of family business

92

Esteve Spain

27

Oras Invest Finland

31

Avantha Group India

35

De Agostini Group Italy

41

Prym Group Germany

47

WICOR Switzerland

53

Barceló Spain

61

Berry Bros. & Rudd United Kingdom

65

Papadopoulos Greece

73

Succeeding for generations

Timelines
Banking
Cosmetics, fashion and luxury goods
Media and publishing
Automotive
Food and drink
Shipping

12
24
38
58
70
80

F

world — but they are often content to stay out of the limelight. For the
leaders of these businesses, the most important stakeholders are not
shareholders or markets, but their family and the next generation. Through
prudent investment and steady growth, they seek to pass on a stable,
dynamic legacy to their children and grandchildren.
Succeeding for generations celebrates these exceptional companies.
Through in-depth interviews and stunning photography, we trace the
histories of some of the world’s most enduring family businesses as they
navigate through wars, recessions and market revolutions.
By always keeping their eyes on the horizon, and with the experience of
many decades — or even centuries — behind them, family businesses are

Longevity is a key trait of family businesses — many of our featured
companies have been in existence for well over a century. But these
businesses are not trapped in the past. Constant innovation is crucial to
surviving and competing in a rapidly globalizing world. Long-running family
businesses know this better than anyone.
Ernst & Young is no stranger to the unique challenges these companies
face: our global organization is the result of the merger of two long-running
family businesses. We are therefore pleased to have brought you
Succeeding for generations. It’s our tribute to a special breed of business.
We hope you enjoy their stories.

internal and external challenges. But while family businesses have much in
Succeeding for generations
Spanning 14 countries and 2 continents, our featured companies range
from wine merchants to banks, and from manufacturers to publishers.
Some maintain an all-family management board, while others have handed
over the day-to-day running of the company to outsiders. Some have
remained in the sector in which they were originally founded, while others
a number of different industries. Some have been
passed down through many generations, while, in others, the third
generation is only now

Succeeding for generations

3

Ernst & Young

C

Roots intertwined

ompanies like Ernst & Young mature rather than grow. They thrive in

Ernst & Young was born out of two family
businesses. To this day, it retains the spirit
and determination of its founders

life and part of the fabric of commerce and industry.
Today, the organization employs more than 140,000 people, operates in
more than 150 countries and has combined global revenues of US$21.3b.

easy to forget Ernst & Young’s humble beginnings.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment Arthur Young’s career began in
earnest. Like that of so many great ambassadors of business, his story is
peppered with unforeseen twists and unexpected turns, with the catalyst
for his success conspicuous by its absence.
The young Scot certainly didn’t set out to become one of the world’s
to say the least. “I was interested in sports, being particularly active in
rugby football,” he noted in memoirs written at the behest of his partners.
“As part of the science course … I competed with other boys in preparing
collection in my class.”
His competitive spirit would see him become captain of the rugby team
while studying for a master of arts degree at the University of Glasgow, and
his steely determination would ensure he attained a bachelor of laws degree

Alwin C. Ernst

Arthur Young

achievements accurately illustrate his aptitude for sports and learning, they
do little to explain his remarkable ascent in the world of business.
1849 Harding &
Pullein is founded in
England. Frederick
Whinney joins.

1850s

1863 Arthur
Young is born.

1860s

1859 Frederick
Whinney is made
a partner.

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Succeeding for generations

1864 Thomas
Clarkson starts
a trustee and
in Toronto.

1881 Alwin C.
Ernst is born.

1890 Arthur Young
moves to the US to
pursue a career in
accounting.

1890s
1894
Chicago. In the same year,
Harding & Pullein is renamed
Whinney, Smith & Whinney.

1903 Theodore
(left) and Alwin
Ernst (right) form
Ernst & Ernst in
Cleveland, Ohio.

1906 Arthur (right) and his
brother Stanley (left) form
Arthur Young & Co. in Chicago.

Oddly enough, it was his faltering hearing that set the wheels in motion
his brother, Stanley, in the US in 1906.
After having traveled
to aid his failing senses, and then being confronted with the realization
that his handicap would prevent him from following a career in law, Young
sought his fortune in the United States, joining J. Kennedy Tod & Co.
— an international bank set up by another Scot and managed by an old
classmate — in 1890. The experience was invaluable and bore fruit when

with funds of just US$500. Twelve years later, the partnership dissolved

US$125,000, but Arthur Young & Company was off and running and soon
developed a reputation as a safe pair of hands.
Around that time, in about 1903, Cleveland-born Alwin C. Ernst, at

of income tax in 1913 and the resulting surge in demand for accountants.
A
bottom, beginning his bookkeeping career straight out of school. He
was a quick learner and soon started cultivating his own ideas about
how accountancy could produce information that would not only help
1930s Arthur
Young & Co. is the
from university
campuses.

1920s

1930s
1924 Arthur Young allies
with Broad Paterson
& Co., England, while
Ernst & Ernst teams up
with Whinney, Smith &
Whinney.

1939 Thomas Clarkson joins forces
with Woods Gordon & Co. to expand into
management consulting.

businesses, but also control and direct them. While this notion is widely
acknowledged today, at the turn of the last century it was, at best,
speculative and, at worst, fanciful.
I
, thanks in part to Ernst’s
progressive approach, but also his belief in promotion and business
development. He was quick to recognize the merits of his workforce,
stating in Ernst & Ernst’s 1920 operating memorandum that “the success
of Ernst & Ernst depends wholly upon the character, ability and industry of
the men and women who make up the organization.”
With foresight and resolve, Ernst built his company on these guiding
principles. He persisted with his idealism, but also became acutely aware
other anecdote is that, during his 45-year management career, only a
handful of people left.
Alwin Ernst and Arthur Young, whose names have become synonymous
with modern business, had much in common. Both started family
period of great change. With so many similarities, it seems ironic that the
two never met, dying within days of each other in 1948.
Forty-one years later, however, their legacies combined when the two
companies merged to make Ernst & Young. The union brought together the
spirit and determination that helped shape two of the great international
companies of modern times. Arthur and Alwin would have been proud.
1948 Alwin Ernst and Arthur
Young die within days of each
other. They had never met.

1980s

1940s

1931 Alwin Ernst
with his wife)
celebrates his
50th birthday.

1989 Arthur Young merges
with Ernst & Whinney to create
Ernst & Young.

1944 Clarkson Gordon
& Company allies with
Arthur Young & Co.

1979 Ernst & Whinney forms and becomes

2000s
2000 Ernst & Young
unveils a new, integrated
global organization.

Succeeding for generations

5

Bankhaus Spängler

The long view
In the past 180 years, economic crises have
come and gone. Through it all, by staying true
to its key principle of self-discipline, Austrian
private bank Bankhaus Spängler has thrived

H

einrich Spängler was given a mysterious wooden cigarillo box when
he succeeded his grandfather at Bankhaus Spängler in Salzburg,
Austria, in 1970. He had seen the box before, while working alongside
his grandfather, Carl Spängler, a senior partner in the bank. It was a
Dannemann cigarillo box, but Heinrich knew it held something besides his
grandfather’s tobacco. Always eager to use any chance to pass along his
ideas to the next generation, Carl Spängler presented his grandson with
the box and said: “Don’t open the box until I die.”
Six months later, in 1971, Carl Spängler passed away and Heinrich
became the sixth generation of the Spängler family to join the bank’s
management. According to his grandfather’s wishes, Heinrich carefully
paper. The piece on top said: “Fifty years of banking experience.” Below
that, Heinrich found that each sheet contained a kernel of wisdom about
the family’s banking philosophy. One sheet said: “A loan is only good
business when it is being paid back.” A second said: “The government or
the church is not necessarily a better debtor.” A third stated: “If somebody
starts to build a house, as constructive as this is, be careful.”
Looking back, Heinrich says his grandfather probably didn’t want him
to open the box earlier because its contents were so simple. However,
the banking truisms captured there illustrate the conservative style of
the generations of Spänglers who have led the bank. To nurture that
philosophy and ensure that it is adhered to, the Spängler family has written
a mission statement and formed a family council. The council holds two

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Succeeding for generations

formal meetings a year to discuss the family’s business and succession
plans and allow members to exchange information. “What’s important
communicates what’s going on and avoids quarrels,” says Heinrich, who is
now Chairman of the bank’s supervisory board.
The Spänglers captured some of their key goals for the bank in the
mission statement, including the desire to remain independent. At the
same time, they acknowledge that remaining independent means being
content with only moderate growth. Bankhaus Spängler consciously
avoids investments that are too risky, and the bank generally uses about
two-thirds of its customers’ deposits for loans to other customers. “Our
customers know that the family wants the company to last for the long

put their money, the deposits at Spängler grew by double digits.”
To keep risk down, for instance, all interbank counterparties are
subjected to a credit assessment procedure and a limitation, depending on
any credit derivatives. The bank also pays particular attention to liquidity
risk, something it sees as critical for safeguarding the bank’s independence.
This risk is consistently monitored with capital tie-up analysis and other
early-warning indicators.
A
remaining family owned and family controlled, but not necessarily family

Above Alois Spängler (1800–
1875), father of the bank’s
founder, Carl Spängler. Alois was
the banking world and was later
mayor of Salzburg
Opposite Chairman Heinrich
Spängler on the roof of
Bankhaus Spängler in Salzburg

Succeeding for generations

7

Bankhaus Spängler

represent the family owners on the board,” says Heinrich. “If the family
cannot agree or nobody can be found from the family to take over a
position, then the family should focus on its role as the company’s owners,
leaving the open position to a non-family member. Being family managed is
a goal, but not the most important one.”
For 166 years, the bank operated as a partnership run by four family
members. As of 1994, Spängler became a joint stock company with all its
shares owned by the family. The corporation has since been overseen by a
management board and a supervisory board, a structure typical in Austria,

Above, from left Heinrich Spängler (left),
Chairman of the supervisory board, and
Dr. Heinrich Wiesmüller, Honorable
Chairman of the supervisory board
Members of the executive board,
(from left): Dr. Rudolf Oberschneider,
Dr. Helmut Gerlich, Franz Welt and
Dr. Werner Zenz
Right Carl Spängler (1864–1902), son
of the bank’s founder. He was married to
Katharina Mayr, whose father owned the
tavern Zum Goldenen Schiff in Salzburg

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Succeeding for generations

is fully in line with the family’s mission statement. Two family members
serve on the eight-member supervisory board: Heinrich Wiesmüller, the
son-in-law of the late Richard Spängler, who was a senior partner with
Carl Spängler; and Heinrich Spängler himself. Franz Welt, the grandson of
Richard Spängler, also serves on the four-member executive board, acting
as the bank’s risk manager. “This is something we learned during our
decades of business,” says Heinrich. “Mixed boards are the best possible
way to manage the company if you want to take advantage of both the
family’s insight and the best talent available on the market.”
The roots of Bankhaus Spängler go back to a medieval trading business
that started with the transport of salt to the south and the import of wine,
silk and spices from Venice. Originally, the Spänglers were winegrowers
and innkeepers in southern Tyrol. Then, two cousins set out — one to
Salzburg and the other to Venice — and began to supply the archbishops
who ruled Salzburg at the time with wine and silk. The bank emerged from

that trading business in 1828 and moved into its present-day headquarters
on Salzburg’s Salzach River at the beginning of the 20th century. Built
in 1881, the building is a former bazaar designed by Salzburg architects
Valentin and Jakob Ceconi. On warm days, employees can be seen strolling
which the bank closes.
Proud of its history as a family-owned company, Bankhaus Spängler
supports other family-owned businesses with its banking services and
with training sessions and discussion symposiums. A recent forum,
for instance, featured Karl Weisskopf, the head of the German familyowned manufacturing group Liebherr International, speaking about the
differences between listed companies and family-owned businesses.
Bankhaus Spängler also teams up with the Institute for Management to
offer custom-tailored courses for people running family businesses. Classes
are offered on 13 days throughout the year in the rococo Leopoldskron
Castle in Salzburg.
The company’s long survival was made possible because it has been
carefully handed down from one generation to the next. Today, the seventh
generation, represented by Markus Wiesmüller and Carl Philipp Spängler,
works at the bank in its family management department, which provides
personal and comprehensive service to wealthy private clients and families.
of wealth, successor selection and risk management.
O
locations, has a staff of 240 and focuses on two primary areas of business:
interest-bearing business such as deposits and loans, and securities, asset

company, Carl Spängler Kapitalanlagegesellschaft, which employs 30
people and has issued more than 100 investment funds. Close to half are
publicly offered in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Of course, the banking sector has changed tremendously since Bankhaus
Spängler was founded 183 years ago, but the bank’s conservative
philosophy has seen it through several banking crises and two world wars.
“We face new challenges and opportunities in a world changing faster
than ever before, but we believe we can cope with these changes due to
our manageable size, speed to market, understanding of our own goals
and skillful organization,” Heinrich says. “Our business model shows that
this is possible if you take the right approach, combining optimism and the
necessary modesty.”
He describes the bank’s business model as one based on responsibility,
business awareness, positive thinking, humanity and, above all, decency
toward partners, employees and customers. And exercising these character
traits is a message that Heinrich relays to the next generation of Spänglers,
who will be taking over in the coming years.
So far, however, Heinrich is not planning to leave that advice in a wooden
box on his desk like his grandfather did. That’s because the next generation
of the family already knows the story of the cigarillo box very well. “It all
goes back to what my grandfather taught me: the value of self-discipline.
The next generation should stick to the bank’s philosophy, deciding on
given situations with responsibility, awareness and the necessary openmindedness,” he says. “My grandfather often quoted Gustav Mahler as
saying: ‘Tradition is not to conserve the ashes,

Above, from left Carl Spängler
(1825–1902), the founder of
Bankhaus Carl Spängler & Co.
Carl Spängler (1894–1971),
grandson of the bank’s
founder. He gave his grandson,
Heinrich, the cigarillo box
of banking truisms
Franz Welt is the grandson
of Richard Spängler and
serves on the four-member
executive board
Markus Wiesmüller works in
the bank’s family management
department, which provides a
service to wealthy private clients
Carl Philipp Spängler and
Markus Wiesmüller represent
the seventh generation of
the family

Overleaf Heinrich Spängler
on top of the world

Succeeding for generations

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Bankhaus Spängler

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Succeeding for generations

Succeeding for generations

11

charters may only be
obtained through an
act of legislation. But in
1838, New York adopts
the Free Banking Act,
which allows anyone
who meets certain legal

The history of banking runs from
gold lending to electronic transfers
— and everything in between

1770 Gurney’s
Bank is founded
by brothers
John and Henry
Gurney. It later
merges with
Barclays Bank.

1587
a state scheme to keep merchants’ money safe

1200

1300

1400

1100 During the third century
AD, banks in Persia and other
territories in the Persian
Sassanid Empire issued letters
of credit known as sakks.
Fragments found in the Cairo
Genizah indicated that, in the
12th century, checks similar
to today’s were in use.

400 BC Banking becomes more sophisticated in ancient Greece,
when credit transfers take place in different geographical locations
without physical money changing hands.

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Succeeding for generations

1500

1600

1700

1661
notes to be issued in
Europe are created in
Sweden, some time
behind China, where
paper currency has
been used since the
seventh century.
Stockholm Banco issues
the notes because
customers were
demanding the return
of coins that had been
lent out. Instead, the
notes can be used as
currency and eventually
exchanged for coins.

1472 The oldest bank in the world, Monte dei Paschi
di Siena, is established in February 1472 by the
General Council of the Siena Republic to grant loans
to “needy persons” at a minimal interest rate. The
bank moves beyond its charitable role in the 16th
century and assists farmers and city institutions.

1800
1784 The Bank of New York
is founded on 9 June 1784,
making it the oldest bank in
the US. Alexander Hamilton,
founding father and US
Treasury Secretary under
George Washington, writes
its constitution. A little more
than 220 years later, the
bank merges with the Mellon
Financial Corporation to
become the Bank of New
York Mellon.

1889 The Hong Kong
and Shanghai Banking
Corporation is founded
growing trade between
China and Europe. The
founder, Scotsman Thomas
Sutherland, wants a bank
operating on “sound Scottish
banking principles.” Still, the
original location of the bank
is considered crucial and the
founders choose Wardley
House in Hong Kong.

1967
comes into public service in
London. It works by matching
radioactive checks with PIN
numbers. Inventor John
Shepherd-Barron plans to make
PINs six digits but his wife can
only remember four, so that
becomes the global standard.

1994 The Stanford Federal
Credit Union becomes
customers internet access
to their accounts.

1900

1828

1800 BC It is common
for people to keep their
valuables in temples.
Priests begin lending gold
to those who need it and
so the concept of banking
begins to develop.

1100

businesses in
Frankfurt, London,
Paris, Vienna
and Naples. They
develop systems
to exchange coded
market information
and build a
successful business
that remains in the
family today.

in banking.

physical transfer of coins.

1800BC 400BC

Early 19th
century
Mayer Amschel
Rothschild’s

1993 France begins a
trial of the chip and PIN
system for credit and
debit cards, which stores
users’ information
on a chip instead of
a magnetic strip.

Bankhaus Spängler is founded in
Vienna — but its roots go back to
a medieval trading business.

2000

1946 Fidelity Investments is
founded in Boston, Massachusetts.

1948 Akbank Haci Omer Sabanci
founds the Sabanci bank as a
shareholder. Today, the Sabanci
Group is an industrial and
60.6% owned by the family.

1983

1690 First incarnation
of Barclays Bank

1953

Banking
The engine of the
global economy

1781
bank is established in
Philadelphia in 1781.
By 1794, there are 17

1811

Timeline: Banking

1983
system to allow
customers to
access their bank
accounts from
home electronically,
using a computer
and phone line, is
launched in Britain.

2008 The US and UK
Governments provide
billions to shore up banks
in the midst of the global
a swathe of new regulations
for banks, including a
measure to force banks to
hold more capital in reserve.

1953 Edmond de Rothschild, of the
French Rothschild family, establishes the
self-named Swiss private banking group.

Succeeding for generations

13

Rothschild

Deep roots
One of the world’s most famous families,
the Rothschilds have maintained a focus on
philanthropy and sustainable business for
more than two centuries

T

In the early 19th century, Mayer Amschel Rothschild sent his sons
abroad to establish a European network of banks. Salomon went to Vienna,
Amschel to Frankfurt, Nathan to London, Carl to Naples and James to
Paris. But little did he know that, 200 years later, the business empire that
bore his name would be among the most respected in the world, having
nations. Today, Rothschild is one of the world’s largest privately owned
corporate banking and private banking and trust services to governments,
corporations and individuals.
Only the London and Paris branches of the family have survived the
many upheavals of history, but the Rothschild philosophy remains as strong
as ever. Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, descendant of dynasty founder
Mayer Amschel, believes that the family’s motto, “Unity, integrity and
activity,” has enabled it to survive and evolve. “Unity” refers to the family’s
belief in emphasizing general interests over personal ones. “Integrity”
points to ethics and mutual respect between a banker and his clients.
“Our values are just as important as our aims; they are the cornerstone
of our identity,” the Baron says. “It is these values that have enabled us to
ride out both present storms and those to come.”
In the 1860s, Benjamin de Rothschild’s grandfather, Baron Edmond,
took over from his father, James, the founder of the Paris branch of

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Succeeding for generations

the Rothschild dynasty. Edmond believed that bankers could not create
wealth in the long term if they were not fully involved in the society and
country to which they belonged. In the 19th century, the Rothschilds
to build the Suez Canal. They helped the French state develop railways
and they invested in land in Palestine, paving the way for Israel’s future
research. They also made their art collections available to the public. “It
is this kind of dedication that I strive to preserve and promote,” the Baron
His wife, Ariane de Rothschild, Vice-President of the Edmond de
Rothschild group, is dedicated to this particular aspect of the family
motto. She is responsible for helping the Maldives Government become
investors to implement wind farms, waste recycling plants and sustainable
transport solutions — among other initiatives. At the core of the
Rothschild values lies a special perspective on the banking profession:
namely, that it must assist, anticipate and grasp the challenges of the
modern era.
The Rothschilds strive to adhere to this philosophy even in their nonbanking activities, of which there are many, from education to wine. The
family, for example, produces brie at the Ferme des 30 Arpents in Seineet-Marne just outside Paris. Ferme des Arpents Brie is currently the only

Above The Rothschild family’s
newly renovated home in
Judengasse, Frankfurt am
Main, 1887
Opposite Ariane de
Rothschild is committed to
securing funding for various
environmental initiatives

Succeeding for generations

15

Rothschild

environmentally friendly. It also supports the regional economy by ensuring
the continuation of one of France’s most famous products: cheese.
Ariane de Rothschild. She believes that one of the causes of the recent

economy, not the other way around. In the new world now taking shape,
even if it takes some time
sobriety and moderation will be key issues.
T
with companies capitalizing on economic turmoil in order to make
acquisitions and even hostile takeovers. For the Rothschilds, however,
this sort of activity goes with the territory when you are involved in global
economic competition. In their view, family businesses actually have a
greater ability to withstand onslaughts of this sort by reacting quickly and
of their capital. This, combined with in-depth knowledge of their market,
creates a solid footing for future growth and defense of the business.
Another key issue for family businesses, and Rothschild is no exception,
is succession. It can be a complicated process, particularly in a long-

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Succeeding for generations

The key word is preparation. For more than 200 years, the Rothschilds
have been careful to plan for the handover to the next generation well in
advance and to involve the younger generations in the family business
at an early age. The Baroness sums up the Rothschild savoir-faire in
transmitting the business from one generation to another: “We have four
daughters who, despite their young years, are completely au fait with our
business affairs. They often accompany us and we frequently discuss family
business with them. They are aware that, in later life, they must undertake
duties and responsibilities, but we also attach a great deal of importance to
their personal development. We want them to choose freely their lifestyles
and their careers, bearing in mind that they have a name, a background
and a memory to honor.”
For the Rothschilds, philanthropy and the arts have been inextricably
linked to the type of capitalism they helped invent in the 19th century.
From the very beginning, they have felt that their privileged inheritance
brought with it solidarity, social responsibility and a duty to contribute
to universal knowledge. Today, the Rothschild family runs 12 foundations,
which focus on education, medical research, intercultural dialogue, culture
and social entrepreneurship. It is a global endeavor, with bases
in Geneva, Paris, New York, London, Jerusalem, Barcelona, Mumbai
and Cape Town.

Above, from left The
Rothschild coat of arms
shows the family motto:
“Unity, integrity and activity”

bring their goods to the Elector
of Hesse, in pastel, by Moritz
Daniel Oppenheim, 1861
Opposite, from left
brothers were sent abroad in the
early 19th century to establish a
European network of banks
An oil painting of Baron
James de Rothschild, also
by German painter Moritz
Daniel Oppenheim

Succeeding for generations

17

Rothschild

While the Rothschild bank is a modern business in every sense of the
word, the family behind it is keenly aware of the weight of both history
and their responsibility to future generations. For Benjamin de Rothschild,
the past 25 years have shown that too many companies have had shortsighted and single-minded aims; too much external growth with too little
thought behind its implementation. Good business, he believes, requires

The Rothschilds and art

The Edmond de Rothschild Foundations have a longstanding tradition of
support for the promotion of arts and culture. Each generation has made
its own contribution to building an exceptional philanthropic legacy, and
our current initiatives continue to exemplify this commitment. One
legendary example is the prints and drawings collection donated to the

the time. But this conservative approach does not mean that a business
must forsake growth in the name of stability. Benjamin de Rothschild
likes to quote the economist Joseph Schumpeter, who said: “Motorcars
travel faster than they otherwise would because they are provided with
brakes.” Family groups can travel fast, but they rarely have accidents.
The Rothschilds’ advice to future generations is to introduce changes so
that nothing really alters — to maintain the features that have created and
sustained the company’s success over the centuries.
Prudence, responsibility and a keen eye for judging the ways of the
world, coupled with a rare independence, are the main assets that have
kept the Rothschild brand thriving for more than 200 years.

This page, from left Interior
courtyard of a gothic palace
with a falcon attacking a duck
and a peacock, School of
Altichiero. The artwork uses
coloured ink on parchment
and is part of the Edmond de
Rothschild Collection at the
Louvre Museum
Baron Edmond de Rothschild
Opposite Baron and Baroness
Benjamin de Rothschild

the Ariane de Rothschild Prize to recognize the talent of emerging artists
from across Europe.

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Succeeding for generations

Succeeding for generations

19

Obeikan Investment Group

The evolution of Obeikan
Now in its second generation, this Saudi
Arabia-based manufacturer is preparing for
further expansion — and succession

A

bdallah Obeikan draws a parallel between business and Charles
Darwin’s natural selection thesis, in which the 19th-century English
naturalist claimed that more evolved species were better equipped to
adapt to certain environments. Considering that his own enterprise, the
Obeikan Investment Group (OIG), has accrued US$1.3b worth of assets, it
is a subject that he is well placed to comment on. In his mind, a successful
company starts out as a baby and goes through teething, childhood and its
teenage years before becoming an adult. The businesses that make it this
far, he believes, have evolved and adapted to their environment and have
emerged as the strongest survivors. In his mind, you are either a lion or
you get eaten.
OIG’s own survival story, from inception to industry leader in the
Middle East and North Africa (MENA), started in 1982 when Abdallah’s
brother, Dr. Fahad Al Obeikan, launched it with their father. At the time,
the business was just a commercial printing operation with few staff and
years later when Abdallah, a fresh-faced, 23-year-old electrical engineering
graduate, joined the business straight from university.
By the time Abdallah arrived, OIG had 120 employees and was
generating US$2m in sales; it was a solid start for a relatively new family
business, but not enough to satisfy Chairman Dr. Fahad’s ambitious plans.
Abdallah’s older brother believed that diversifying into other sectors, such
as printing educational books and producing certain types of packaging,
was key to the company’s ongoing evolution. Further expansion followed,

20

Succeeding for generations

the 1990s to establish a book store, food-container and product-packaging
businesses, a paper mill and a technical fabric operation.
Growth was steady but sure, with Abdallah and his team convinced
to offer a total solution in both the packaging industry and educational
services, Obeikan’s main businesses. Establishing strategic alliances with
businesses operating in the same industries has also contributed to the
group’s expansion. Since its inception, OIG has formed partnerships with
companies in the packaging and education industries throughout Saudi
Arabia and the MENA region.
Finally, exporting has made a big contribution to OIG’s growth, with 60%
of its products and services sold throughout the MENA region, as part of
the company’s strategy to establish a customer base beyond Saudi Arabia.
Its network outside of its home country is growing rapidly, with more than
According to Abdallah, these strategic moves have built OIG into a
large-scale business. It has a total of 5,000 employees, including Abdallah’s
brothers Mohammed and Omran, product distributors in more than 70
countries and nearly US$1b in sales since inception.
Continuing that development, and maintaining the group’s steady
20% year-on-year growth, is the main objective for the coming years,
according to Abdallah. Anything more, and OIG’s expansion will become
uncontrollable. “Managing the speed of growth is beyond our capability

Opposite Abdallah Obeikan in
the Bastakiya quarter, one of
the few historic areas in Dubai
and home to the emirate’s
oldest building

Succeeding for generations

21

Obeikan

deal
with surprises when driving at 200km an hour than it is at a lower speed.”
Having been at the helm alongside his brother, Dr. Fahad, for many
years, Abdallah is accustomed to the skills and qualities needed to
manage a growing business. But with plans to retire in eight years’ time,
successor with similar attributes to take up the reins.
With this goal in mind, he has attended Family Business Center courses
— held by international business school IMD — on developing long-term
succession plans and the typical challenges executives face when handing
companies over to the next generation. Of the lessons learned during
the courses, the most important, Abdallah says, is to make sure the right
people are in place to “manage and control” the business, months or even
years before the handover.
As part of the group’s handover plan, Abdallah has also held informal

Opposite Abdallah Obeikan
stands in front of a building
that is topped with a wind tower,
a cooling design that pre-dates
the arrival of air conditioning

22

Succeeding for generations

company. “You have to be gifted to be a leader,” he says. “You have to have
charisma, leadership skills and the ability to manage disagreements and
encourage people. A leader is not something you can describe; you just
know it when you see it and it must be in your DNA because you cannot
learn it. Some people are born to be a number two, while others are born
to be an administrator; not everyone can be a leader.”
He says that he and his brother are likely to handpick a top-level
executive who has climbed the ranks and worked with the group for several

years. It remains to be seen whether that person will be a family member,
but Abdallah believes nothing is more important than appointing someone
who upholds the company’s values. “You must have the right people
with the right values and vision to make a successful business,” he says.
“With the right human capital plan in place, you can grow your people and
establish an excellent relationship between them and the management. To
do this, everyone has to believe they are part of this family and part of this
company, which helps create good leaders.”
Abdallah adds that it is essential to build a platform to nurture young
aim, 300 Riyadh Polytechnic Institute students are chosen each year to
join OIG, where they undergo two and a half years of intensive training.
From there, the students develop into hard-working professionals with the
skills, aptitude and determination to help expand the business. “We take
“There is an internal assessment center to monitor their progression and
develop them into a new generation of leaders for this company.
“I don’t believe in bringing people from outside,” he adds. “If you
feed your business with good people, you can and will continue growing
successfully, which is exactly what we are doing.”

Succeeding for generations

23

Timeline: Cosmetics, fashion and luxury goods

Cosmetics, fashion
and luxury goods
Objects of beauty
In economic terms, the
global heavyweights

1500s In Europe, a pale complexion is considered
fashionable because the upper classes do not have to work
outside and so are pale skinned. Those lower down the
social scale try to make their skin look pale by using white
powder, which sometimes contains lead. Queen Elizabeth I
is well known for her alabaster skin.

2 AD The Romans use oil to clean their skin
and hair, rather than soap, scraping the oil
off their skin to get rid of dirt. They also have
skin creams made of olive oil, beeswax and
rosewater. Red okra is used as rouge, and
soot darkens and extends the eyebrows.
They even use crocodile dung as a face mask.
4 AD The use of reliquaries — containers for
precious objects associated with saints or

3000BC

3000 BC The Chinese
substances such as beeswax
and egg. The colors signify
social status and lower
classes are forbidden from
painting their nails. Red is a
popular shade, along with
gold, silver and black.
4000 BC Ancient Egyptians use
cosmetics containing hazardous
chemicals, including kohl made from
lead and soot. However, literature from
the time suggests that people were
aware of the dangers of ingesting lead,
and recent research has shown they
used lead-based makeup to prevent eye
infections. Ancient Egyptians also use
spices as deodorant.

24

Succeeding for generations

1000

1923 The designer
Coco Chanel gets a
suntan on a cruise to
Cannes and makes sunkissed skin fashionable.
Having a tan grows
in popularity, with
beach holidays and
sunbathing en vogue.
1911 Elizabeth
Arden is founded by
Florence Nightingale
Graham, who can be
credited with singlehandedly laying the
foundations of the
modern American
cosmetics industry.

Christian ritual from at least the fourth century.

4000BC

1872 Arinobu Fukuhara
founds the Shiseido
pharmacy. It is now a global
cosmetics company, but in its
early days it also brought ice
cream to Japan.

1500

1800

794 to 1185 Japanese women
use white makeup made from
rice powder or lead. They use
crushed petals to color their
lips and, for certain ceremonies,
they blacken their teeth.

1946 Mentored by her chemist
uncle, John Schotz, Estée Lauder
founds a company that sells four
skincare products to salons and
hotels. She holds the belief that to
sell a product, you have to touch the
customer, and insists that everyone
is beautiful in their own way.

2000

1900
1856 Thomas Burberry
in Basingstoke, Hampshire,
England, at the age of 21.
The business grows in
popularity and he opens
a shop in London in 1891.
Burberry trademarks its
well-known check pattern in

1837 The Hermès
Group, specializing
in high-end fashion,
accessories and
fragrances, is founded
by Thierry Hermès. It is
still 80% family owned.

1987 Moët Hennessy
and Louis Vuitton merge
to form LVMH, drawing
together companies with
a rich history. Moët &
Chandon was founded in
1743, Hennessy in 1765
and Louis Vuitton in 1854.
The group now owns more
than 60 brands in wines and
spirits, fashion and leather,
perfume and cosmetics,
watches and jewelry.

a trenchcoat lining.

1888 Mum antiperspirant
deodorant is formulated by
Philadelphia. It is a cream that
is applied by hand.

1932 Revlon is
founded by Charles
Revlon and his
brother, Joseph.

1952 Helen Barnett
Diserens, who worked
for Mum, is inspired
by the ballpoint pen
to create roll-on
deodorant, which goes
on sale in 1952. Aerosol
antiperspirant comes to
the market in 1965.

1978 Founded by the Jatania family,
the Lornamead Group is set up as an
international trading house. From
these beginnings, it acquires brands
known for their customer loyalty,
including Yardley and Lypsyl, and is
now a globally successful company.
The family builds its successful
when Idi Amin expelled all Asian
people from the country.

2000s “Natural” and organic
cosmetics and skincare come to
the fore, capitalizing on consumers’
concerns about chemical
preservatives in products.

Succeeding for generations

25

Esteve

Chemical reaction
Esteve was founded in 1929, but the family
has been involved in the pharmaceutical
sector since the 18th century. Now, the third
generation is in charge of the family legacy

D

r. Antoni Esteve Subirana, the founder of Spanish pharmaceutical
company Esteve, used to warn his family that without investment
in continued research, development and innovation, the company
would cease to exist. Coming from a family of pharmacists, he used this
philosophy to launch a pioneering laboratory whose dedication to hard
work and groundbreaking investigation would draw the interest of Nobel
Prize winner Dr. Alexander Fleming.
The Esteve family’s involvement in pharmaceuticals began in the 1780s,
when Tomás Esteve Gavanyac left the rural idyll of Cerdanya, near the
border with France, to work in a pharmacy at the Manresa Public Hospital,
about 30 miles from Barcelona. Having found his niche, Gavanyac struck
wooden façade, topped with elaborate wrought-iron accents, can still be
seen at the corner of Carrer del Born and Plaça Plana de l’Om.
Almost a century and a half later, in 1929, his descendant, Dr. Antoni
Esteve Subirana, set up Esteve with the aim of developing products for
the Spanish pharmaceutical market, which was dependent on imports
at the time. Rising demand for healthcare products had illuminated the

product, Esterosol, a vitamin D supplement.
The course of history doesn’t run smoothly, however. In 1936, General
Franco led a coup d’état against the Popular Front government, plunging
Spain into a civil war. This threw up challenges for businesses and

26

Succeeding for generations

individuals, but at Esteve, life went on, bringing landmark discovery after
to synthesize sulfamides, the original antimicrobial drugs that paved the
way for the antibiotic revolution in medicine.
The company’s successes caught the eye of some of the most eminent
visited the company in 1948 after Dr. Esteve Subirana had himself learned
Barcelona inspired Dr. Esteve Subirana’s sons, Josep and Joan, and his
daughter, Montserrat Esteve i Soler, to turn Esteve into an international
company by establishing business relationships outside Spain, a strong
R&D structure and strategic alliances with other companies.
and developed a chemistry department. It also formed links with other
pharmaceutical companies, including the Belgian company Janssen,
with fellow Spanish company Puig. By the 1980s, Esteve was the market
leader in Spain.
More than 80 years after the company’s launch, the third generation
is now in charge. Antoni and Albert Esteve, Chairman and CEO of the
group respectively, took over the executive positions at Esteve in 2005.
They run it using the guiding principles and standards laid down by their
grandfather, but with the business acumen inherited from their father,
Josep, who is now Honorary Chairman. The second generation, which

Opposite Brothers Antoni (left)
and Albert Esteve on the roof of

Succeeding for generations

27

Esteve

“We have a robust pipeline of innovation and
development that allows us to keep investing, which

Albert Esteve

From left In 1948, Dr. Alexander
Fleming, winner of the Nobel
Prize for Medicine (center),
visited the Esteve laboratories.
Dr. Antoni Esteve i Subirana
is on the left
The 18th-century Esteve family
pharmacy is still in its original
location in Manresa
The pharmaceutical facilities
at Martorelles

included their uncle and aunt, Joan and Montserrat, also placed an
emphasis on professional management; former Group CEO Joaquim Targa
was key to Esteve’s growth. “The skills of our family’s second generation lie
in their ability to generate trust in others and go on to establish business
agreements after gaining that trust,” says Antoni.
Since taking over, Antoni and Albert have nurtured their father’s dream
of international expansion. Esteve is now a global pharmaceutical company
and market leader in Spain, with a net turnover of more than €900m
(US$1.3b) in 2010. Innovation never stops: about 10% of annual turnover
is invested in R&D each year to ensure the company’s future sustainability.
Antoni and Albert Esteve’s formative years were intertwined with the
family business. Both gained experience working in companies outside
departments, gaining crucial experience prior to taking up executive
positions. “Our grandfather was a scientist and an entrepreneur who never
stopped working even after suffering a stroke, but our father is more
of a businessman with clear commercial sense, very committed to the
company’s growth,” says Antoni.
“We try to be a combination of them, with the values of our uncle and
aunt, Joan and Montserrat, and to draw inspiration from both the founder
and his successors,” Albert adds.

28

Succeeding for generations

Today, 370 of Esteve’s 2,900 employees work in innovation and
research. The company has established more than 800 patents during
its existence and now has six factories dedicated to the production of
chemicals for pharmaceuticals: two in Spain, two in China and two in
Mexico. Meanwhile, close to 100 million boxes of drugs and medical
products leave Esteve’s pharmaceutical product factory in Martorelles,
near Barcelona, each year.
Albert believes strongly in investing in research, innovation and
industrial development to ensure the company’s future sustainability.
“We have a robust pipeline of innovation and development that allows
from,” he says.
Looking to the future, the Esteve brothers say that their main objective
today — increasing the value of the company for the next generation

internationalization. They believe that international sales will generate
more than two-thirds of the
’ time. In 2010, they

Two other members of the family have active responsibilities inside the
company. Jordi Esteve and Silvia Gil-Vernet, cousins of Antoni and Albert,
lead the business development and sustainability areas, respectively. And
the Esteve family board, which meets monthly, is made up of 11 cousins
(including Antoni, Albert, Jordi and Silvia); its mission is to provide advice
and prepare the next generation to take the reins of the company.
As the company has grown, its business interests have become as
merger or change of ownership — they believe that a culture of strong
family ties helps in tough economic times. Albert adds that operating a
private family-run company has the advantage of not being subject to the
daily and short-term perils of a publicly listed company, which cushions the
business in times of economic recession.
“Our objective is to hand over to the next generation a company that
has been improved upon,” says Antoni. “This is a tall order, considering the
inheritance we have received.”

“Our objective is to hand over to the
next generation a company that has
been improved upon. This is a tall
order, considering the inheritance
we have received”
Antoni Esteve

the development of joint ventures, including the establishment of Esteve
Tejin Healthcare with Japan’s Teijin Pharma, a company specializing in
respiratory therapy.

Succeeding for generations

29

Oras Invest

Portrait of a family
The Paasikivis are one of Finland’s most
successful families, having turned a small
metal workshop into a US$1b business.
Now it’s the third generation’s turn to shine

O

wning a company is worlds apart from investing in one, at least for
the Paasikivis. One of Finland’s most successful families, they are
second- and third-generation entrepreneurs turned industrial owners. Their
Modest beginnings marked the birth of the Paasikivi family business. In
1945, Erkki Paasikivi founded Oras Ltd. with his wife, Irja, née Oras, in his
father-in-law Kosti’s basement. It started out as a small metal workshop
believer in the younger generation’s skills and knew Erkki and Irja could
achieve a lot. Be that as it may, there is no way Kosti could have guessed
that Erkki and Irja’s decision to name their little company after him would
eventually make his surname an international brand.
production when Erkki managed to get his hands on a batch of surplus
grenade shells, which he manufactured into radiator pipe connectors.
It seems that once the Paasikivi family was introduced to the winning
combination of metal and water, nothing could stop them.
In the 1950s, the business grew in parallel with Finland, a country that
was rebuilding itself with unmatched vigor after the war. Water-related
foundry products soon formed the core of the business and, by the 1970s,
Oras was a synonym for faucets. High-quality, consistent innovation and
design collaboration with the likes of Alessi have made the company the
Nordic market leader, one of the largest manufacturers of faucets in Europe
and an internationally known brand.

30

Succeeding for generations

Yet today the family business is about much more than this. Oras
Invest is an industrial owner with a mission. For the Paasikivis, industrial
ownership means never investing mere money in a company. Being part of
the family’s portfolio of companies means that the Paasikivis will also invest
their time, talent and expectations in a company. They plan on being part
of its history.
In addition to owning 100% of the original company, Oras, the family
business owns a quarter of Uponor and 18% of both Kemira and Tikkurila
— all three are major listed companies on the Finnish stock exchange. All
of Oras Invest’s companies operate in water technology, housing solutions
or both. At the end of 2010, Oras Invest’s net asset value was more than
€650m (US$940m). Not bad for a family business.
“We aim to be the largest owner in our listed companies and majority
owner in our unlisted ones,” explains Annika Paasikivi, granddaughter of
the founders and board member of Oras Invest since 2006. This is in line
with the Paasikivi outlook on business. First and foremost, they are a family
business, fully family owned and family run. Second, they are responsible
industrial owners. The Paasikivis see nothing wrong with short-term
investors; they simply want to make it clear that their approach to business
is different.
“Our aim is to act in the best interests of the company,” she adds.
“We are not after fast returns, or in it for a three- to eight-year stretch.
sustainable development. We only seek ownership in companies that we

Opposite Kaj, Annika and
Eerik Paasikivi, grandchildren
of the founders

Succeeding for generations

31

Oras Invest

can literally grow old with and then pass to the next generation; companies
In 2011, the third generation of Paasikivis, of which Annika is part, is
preparing to take the lead. Living up to the success associated with the
family name is by no means simple, but it takes only a few moments in their
presence to be convinced that this pack will hold their own. Annika, Kaj and
Eerik Paasikivi represent the new generation on Oras Invest’s board. Kaj is
also a member of the board at Oras Ltd, along with his brother, Risto.
The third generation comprises seven cousins in total, and they meet up
regularly to discuss the family business. More cousins may well join Annika,
Kaj and Eerik on the board in the future, but no one is forced to take part
in the operative business. However, if the rest of the cousins share even
a portion of the enthusiasm these three show, it is likely we will be seeing
more Paasikivis on the Oras Invest board and in operative roles in the years
to come. Admittedly, it is not an easy challenge. Working with your entire

Above The founders of Oras, Irja
and Erkki Paasikivi, in the 1950s
Right Early Oras products at
a fair in 1959

32

Succeeding for generations

success is an entirely different matter.
The Paasikivis have the reputation of not having a reputation. Rarely in
the public eye, they go from one success to another without so much as
a whiff of failure. A track record so good might even be a burden to future
generations. Is a family member allowed to make mistakes? “Of course,
but preferably in their youth while working for somebody else,” Annika
says with a stern face. It takes a moment to grasp that she is kidding.
“Seriously speaking, we all share the family’s strong values, which for us

represent a way of life: ownership, vitality, commitment and endurance,”
she says. “Together, they spell out the respect we feel toward work. We
always live up to these values, whether we are employed by the family or
by someone else.”
For Oras Invest, as for any family business, the generation gap is
something to be overcome. Some claim a family should not consider
a change in generation until everyone — including the older generation —
mutual respect,” says Annika. “I think I am starting to resemble my father
more and more each year. Or perhaps I always did and was not willing to
admit it earlier on!
“Even though you are someone’s child or niece or nephew, it does not
mean anyone is allowed to treat you as a child after you’ve reached a
certain position,” she adds. “This is vital in order to keep the business
running, although I must admit that I have one exception to this rule. My
grandmother, solid as a rock and one of the smartest people I know, is in
her 90s now. She is allowed to tell me off, tell me what to do and treat me
as if I still have a lot of living and learning to do before she deems me a
grownup. From her perspective, I gather I still do have a thing or two to
learn about life.”
Oras Invest could make a full generation shift at any point, but the
family is in no particular hurry. There is a large enough age difference
between Pekka, Jukka and Jari — Annika’s father and his two brothers —
to keep things running smoothly. Annika and her cousins hope that Jari,

who is the youngest brother and CEO of Oras Invest, will stay with the company for
a good 10 years after Jukka and Pekka retire.
“Not that I believe my father or any of his brothers would ever actually retire,”
Annika laughs. “Mark my word, all three will be in and out of here, pottering about,
for as long as they live. This business is a part of who they are. I would say that this
is one of the best things about being in a family business. It is virtually impossible to
lose knowledge due to key people leaving or retiring. We’re in this for life.”

“We all share the family’s strong values, which for us
represent a way of life: ownership, vitality, commitment
and endurance”
Annika Paasikivi

Succeeding for generations

33

Avantha Group

Future gazing
The Thapar family has been in business
for nearly a century. A split in the second
generation paved the way for Avantha,
now one of India’s biggest conglomerates

H

anging on the walls of the Avantha Group’s headquarters at Thapar
House in New Delhi is an art installation of large clocks. Somewhere
in the middle, there is one that purports to tell the time in Pataal
(“netherworld” in Hindi). “This one goes anti-clockwise,” explains
Gautam Thapar, Chairman and CEO of the US$4b Avantha Group.
So let’s go back in time to 1919, when Thapar’s grandfather, Karam
Chand Thapar, founded what would become the Thapar Group. He
started out in the coal-trading business in the early 1920s and, over
time, built up assets and entered into manufacturing. He made forays
into industries ranging from textiles and chemicals to sugar, banking,
insurance and paper. He had four sons and eventually passed the Thapar
Group to his third son and Gautam’s uncle, Lalit Mohan Thapar. When it
came time to think about the third generation, Lalit had been grooming
his nephew, Vikram, to take over the business — but ended up choosing
Gautam as the successor instead.
It’s a situation that family businesses dread: how do you solve the
problem of two or more family members competing for the top spot? There
is the potential for hurt feelings, endless mediation and even court battles.
But not in the Thapar Group’s case. Gautam had never expected to
become leader of the group; in the 1980s, he was studying chemical
engineering in the US. He returned to India in 1985 to join the family
business, and had risen in Lalit’s estimation after turning around the
fortunes of group companies such as Andhra Pradesh Rayons, Ballarpur
Industries (BILT) and Crompton Greaves (CG). Therefore, Lalit, who

34

Succeeding for generations

Opposite Gautam Thapar
at Avantha’s New Delhi
headquarters. One of the
clocks in this installation runs
backwards, purporting to tell the
time in the netherworld

Succeeding for generations

35

Avantha Group

This page Gautam Thapar is

Globalization initiatives have exposed the group to a plethora of risks,
however, which has necessitated a risk and governance framework. Thapar
has already put an Avantha management board structure in place to
manage the group companies better. The primary purpose of the board
is to prepare the group for future growth and create a global Avantha. It

Here, he visits one of his paper
factories and, right, meets
current US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton
Opposite The Thapar family in

reviews each of the group businesses along these parameters and advises

never married, left his share of the businesses to Gautam in 2005 when
he retired.
The Thapar empire divided in its second generation, unlike most family
conglomerates, which tend to split in the third. A four-way division of the
family’s assets in 1999 was followed by a separation between Gautam and
his older sibling Karan in 2005. Unlike other splits, however, the Thapar
cousins over the family name, Gautam Thapar decided to drop the baggage
of the past and rebrand his group businesses as Avantha in 2007.
But no matter how amicable the split, a change of that magnitude was

pending issues. “We lost time,” admits Thapar.
And so a new era began. Yet Thapar feels that Avantha and the original
Thapar Group have a lot in common. “My grandfather was someone who
relied on professionals. That culture is still there,” he says. “Moreover,
he was a risk-taker. But then, he learned his lessons rather quickly. That
quality lives on in the group.”
In practice, Thapar puts decisions into two categories: those that are
good for the individual businesses and those that are good for the group.
He takes the lead on the latter, looking strategically at what will drive
growth in the group, and leaves the day-to-day running of the individual
businesses to their respective CEOs. His strategy is working. In recent
years, he has globalized the group’s operations, made acquisitions and

36

Succeeding for generations

expanded capacities. The group has manufacturing facilities in more
than 10 countries and a worldwide customer base. Its businesses include
BILT, the largest manufacturer of writing and printing paper in India; CG,
an engineering company dealing in the management and application of
electrical energy; the Global Green Company, Avantha’s foods division;
Solaris ChemTech Industries; Avantha Power and Infrastructure; Builtech
Building Elements, which is focused on green building materials; and
Salient Business Solutions and Avantha Technologies, which both deal in
IT and IT-enabled services. BILT and CG together account for nearly 65%
of the group’s revenues.
All this growth has resulted in a fourfold increase in Avantha’s turnover
— from US$1b in 2003 to US$4b today — and it is on track to achieve a
turnover of US$10b by 2015. “In a country that is growing at 9% per
annum, there are opportunities emerging every day,” says Thapar.
And the company is quick to capitalize on these opportunities. Its
overseas acquisitions began in 2005, with CG taking over Belgium-based
poweracquisitions in the US, France, Hungary, Ireland and the UK.
Other group companies have also grown inorganically, with Global
Green acquiring Belgium-based Intergarden in 2006 and Hungarian food
company Puszta Konzerv in 2008. Similarly, in 2007, BILT acquired
Malaysia-based Sabah Forest Industries and, recently, Bangalore-based
Premier Tissues India. In the IT sector, the Avantha Group acquired
Pyramid Healthcare Solutions, based in Florida in the US.

Talent is another key area for the group. According to Thapar, companies
today need to make themselves attractive to global talent. “The best
talent will not join you if they know that they have to be subservient to the
promoter in any way,” he says. He believes strongly in giving professionals
Avantha may have a new name, but its roots are intertwined with those of
the Thapar family. Thapar himself has two daughters, aged 11 and 13, but
isn’t making any predictions about whether they will join him at Avantha.
Some time back, he and his wife decided that they would not press them
to join the family business. While he’s not closing any route to his children,
Thapar wants them to be clear about the difference between ownership and
management of a business. “It’s one thing to understand the nitty-gritty of
a company and quite another to understand your role as a shareholder,” he
says. Even if his daughters decide to go down that route, Thapar insists that
the day-to-day running of the companies will be left to the professionals.
“Talent is not genetic,” he says. “Globally, there are several professionally
managed, family-owned businesses where both the management and the
board are headed by a professional, non-family person.”
Whether Thapar’s daughters play a leading role in the business or not,
it’s clear that it will always have professionalism at its heart. For him, there
are three things that will keep Avantha ahead of its competitors: the fact

“Our secrets to success are that we give our people
freedom to operate, we have a strong understanding
of manufacturing and we add skills as we grow”
Gautam Thapar

that it is very good at the basic skill of manufacturing and getting margins
out of manufacturing; and the fact that, as the company grows, its skills
base grows too. This is one family business that is always looking ahead.

Succeeding for generations

37

1901

Timeline: Media and publishing

Media and publishing
Entertaining and
informing the world

1901 Giovanni De Agostini
Agostini, which evolves into the
De Agostini Group, now owned by
the Boroli and Drago families.

From the Gutenberg Bible to
political blogs, the industry proves
that the pen is indeed more
powerful than the sword
800AD

1857 The McClatchy
Company dates to the
California Gold Rush era,
when James McClatchy is
one of the founding editors
The

1501 Italian Ottaviano Petrucci is a
leading light among music printers and is
granted a monopoly on printing certain
types of music in Venice for 20 years.
Some of the methods he uses, such as the
size of the note stem, are still in use now.

1400

1500
1450s
book in Europe to be produced using
a movable type printing press. Before
this, books in the region had been copied
by hand. German Johannes Gutenberg
comes up with the method for massproducing books and paves the way for
affordable printed work that could be
produced in large quantities.

1600

1700
1663
magazine is published
in Germany by Johann
Rist, a theologian
and poet who lives in
Hamburg. It is called
Unterredungen
(
Discussions).

1800
1741 Benjamin Franklin

magazine,
,
in the US, but is beaten
by three days by Andrew
Bradford’s American
. Both publications
last a matter of months.

1856 Langenscheidt
Publishing Company
is founded. Still
family owned,
it produces
dictionaries, maps
and educational
material.

1887 After taking
control of The San
Francisco Examiner
from his father,
William Randolph
Hearst founds the
Hearst Corporation.
The Hearst family
is still involved in
the ownership and
management
of the publishing
empire.

1963 Ralph J. Roberts
founds Comcast Corporation,
one of the world’s leading
media, entertainment and
communication companies.

1953 Playboy magazine is
with Marilyn Monroe on the
cover. It is not dated, as cofounder Hugh Hefner does not
know if there will be another.

1900
1922 Sam Newhouse
founds the familyowned business
Advance Publications,
Inc. with the purchase
of the Staten Island
Advance.

1979 Rupert
Murdoch creates
News Corporation as
a holding company for
News Limited, which
holds assets inherited
from his father, Sir
Keith Murdoch. Three
of Rupert Murdoch’s
children, James,
Lachlan and Elisabeth,
now work for
News Corporation.

2000
1935 Penguin paperbacks are born. Allen Lane has
grown frustrated with the lack of cheap, good quality
paperback books being sold in Britain and so decides
to launch a range of contemporary works that are
cheap enough to be sold in corner shops.
2000s Regional and
national newspapers
see circulation falling,
which many put down
to the rise of the
internet and 24-hour
rolling news.

868 AD The oldest known printed book in the world, the Diamond
Sutra, is published in China. According to the British Library, seven
strips of paper are printed using carved wooden blocks and then

38

Succeeding for generations

39

De Agostini Group

A broad canvas
Long famous for its publishing activities,
De Agostini is still controlled by the Drago
and Boroli families. Now its interests extend
far beyond the written word

M

arco Drago seemingly had little choice but to join the family business.
One day in 1969, not long after receiving an economics degree from
Milan’s Bocconi University, his uncle, Adolfo Boroli, told him to report for
De Agostini. Drago, whose mother, Giuliana Boroli, was one of Adolfo’s
sisters, willingly complied.
He had other job offers, but felt drawn to the publishing sector.
“I certainly couldn’t have imagined everything that has taken place since
then,” he says. “It’s made a great story.”
Drago worked his way up in the company, becoming a manager in 1975
and spearheading domestic and international growth as CEO of the De
Agostini Group’s publishing business in the 1980s and 1990s. The current
chapter of the De Agostini story sees the 65-year-old Drago as Chairman
of De Agostini S.p.A., the group holding company that now comprises not
only the historic publishing work of the Boroli and Drago families, but also
Group is an international force, with group revenues of more than €4b
(US$5.6b) and a presence in 66 countries.
De Agostini’s history dates back to 1901, when the geographer Giovanni
De Agostini set up a mapmaking business in Rome. Just a few years later,
he moved the company to Novara in northern Italy, not far from Milan.
Marco Drago’s maternal grandfather, Marco Boroli, and Boroli’s business
partner, Cesare Rossi, acquired De Agostini in 1919, with the Boroli family
taking full control of the group in 1946. It was initially Marco Boroli’s son,

40

Succeeding for generations

Achille, subsequently accompanied by his brother Adolfo, who built up the
company’s publishing business in the decades after World War II.
Beginning in the 1960s, more than a dozen members of the third
generation of the family, including Marco Drago himself, took on
operational positions in the group. Today, two members of the fourth
generation of the company have management roles in group companies
and two others sit on the board of directors of the holding company, De
Agostini S.p.A.
Drago expects more family members from the fourth generation to take
an increasingly active role in De Agostini companies to help pave the way
for succession in B&D Holding, the limited partnership of the Boroli and
Drago families that controls the De Agostini Group. “For this, we must train
the fourth generation of shareholders to take our place when the time
comes,” he says. As Chairman of B&D Holding, he wants to leave behind
a solid and sustainable company for the next generation.
While family members seeking a job in the De Agostini Group were once
welcomed with open arms, today they must meet strict requirements and
demonstrate they can stack up well against outside competition. Requisites
of languages and a solid degree. The company’s board of directors has

career development of the fourth-generation shareholders. This stringent
personnel selection policy has helped to make the De Agostini Group

Above Calendario Atlante
(Calendar Atlas
published in 1904 and, with
the exception of a single
volume covering 1945 and
1946, has been issued
edition was 64 pages long
and came with 12 maps. The
2011 edition, the 107th,
comprised 1,100 pages full
world’s 194 countries
Opposite Roberto Drago,
Marco Drago and Marco Boroli
(left to right)in the Novara

Succeeding for generations

41

De Agostini Group

“Our success and longevity rests on our
ability to innovate and adapt to changes
in the market, and the way in which we
handle generational succession”
Marco Drago

a magnet for top managers from outside the family. In 2005, Drago
stepped down as CEO, as the family was increasingly concentrating on its
shareholder role. “The concept is that the manager heading a business
should be among the best on the market,” he explains. Drago’s reserved
approach, and willingness to delegate and to treat managers as partners,
is seen as one of the secrets of the group’s success.
While outside managers have come to the forefront, family members
still make up the majority of the board of directors of De Agostini S.p.A.
and the family clearly still has an essential role in steering and coordinating
businesses, Drago believes, is that they can provide continuity to both the
company and its managers over the years, allowing for the development
of a long-term strategy. On the other hand, if a family is not united,
succession can be a problem. Drago notes that family businesses can also
to fund necessary investments for growth and is unwilling to open up to
outside capital. B&D Holding was established so that the four branches of

Right In 1946, the Boroli
family took over the company
completely. It was led by Achille
and then for more than 30 years
with his brother, Adolfo(right)
Opposite Pietro Boroli

42

Succeeding for generations

Financing growth has not been a problem at the group, which, under
international player and branch out from publishing.
arena by lining up alongside other investors to acquire Italian telephone
directory publisher Seat Pagine Gialle. The group’s €340m (US$479m)

Succeeding for generations

43

De Agostini Group

stake in 2000, providing liquidity for additional acquisitions. It also made
a windfall on its investment and subsequent sale of a stake in the Italian
insurer Toro Assicurazioni.
De Agostini entered the gaming business in 2002, with Italian lottery
operator Lottomatica. Its 2006 acquisition of US lottery equipment
provider GTech made it the largest global player in the gaming sector, and
Lottomatica now accounts for more than half of all group revenues. De
grouped together respectively in its De Agostini Communications and
DeA Capital divisions. Its historic publishing business is housed under De
Agostini Editore. Shares of Lottomatica and DeA Capital are listed on the
Milan stock exchange, while those of Spain’s Antenna 3 de Television, a
subsidiary of De Agostini Communications, are listed on the Madrid bourse.
Opposite Cesare Angelo Rossi
and Marco Adolfo Boroli
(top — second and third from
left) took over the Istituto

Opposite, right Marco Drago

44

Succeeding for generations

with, there are thousands of details like the choice of a book cover or an
advertising campaign. You become very attached to the product.” Despite
to get out of the publishing business. “We continue to believe in and invest
in this sector. It’s part of the history of our family and of our company.”
And with 110 years of experience, De Agostini has certainly learned
to make its way in a competitive and evolving market. “Our success and
longevity rests on our ability to innovate and adapt to changes in the
market, and the way in which we handle generational succession,” says
Drago. To meet the demands of the fast-changing publishing market of the
printing system in 1927. With the launch of the encyclopedia

businesses designed to guarantee attractive returns. Geographical

publishing sector or, generally speaking, the media sector, faces more
The company upgraded to
rotogravure printing line in
the 1920s (bottom)

That said, De Agostini’s Chairman still ranks publishing as one of the
most interesting businesses. “I enjoyed myself immensely when I was

radically. For example, a lot of young people don’t buy paper newspapers
anymore but read them on their iPads at a much lower price. The
evolution of the internet has changed consumers’ behavior and allowed
new competitors to come on to the market.”

Sorted by country and continent, the encyclopedia was issued in 312
weekly installments of 32 pages, which made it accessible to a broader
public. New media and multimedia products have helped to drive growth
in the publishing business in recent decades.
If the past is any precedent, who knows what changes could be in store
at the De Agostini Group over the next century? “If you consider that
cartography was everything and now represents 1% of our business,” says
Drago, “it’s clear that everything has changed.”

Succeeding for generations

45

Prym Group

A stitch in time
In its nearly 500 years of existence, Prym has
had its shares of ups and downs. But through
haberdashery supplier has built a new future

T

he imposing brick building in Stolberg in the Rhineland, Germany,
speaks of success. When Hans Prym built his company headquarters
in Zweifaller Strasse more than a century ago, his family had already
been manufacturing metal goods in the town for 270 years. The three;
the business was booming and Prym’s snap fasteners for clothing, in
particular, were a roaring success. Today, William Prym is Germany’s
oldest family-owned industrial enterprise.
But when Michael Prym receives visitors these days, he invites them
to a business park two miles away. Until he reached retirement age, he
was CEO of the William Prym company. Now, two decades before the
company’s 500th anniversary, he has taken up a new challenge, having
to launch into a new era. “The problems of the past are not yet entirely
behind us,” says Michael, “but the outlook for the future is bright.”
The family can trace its history back to Johann Prym, who lived in
with the goldsmith and brass-worker Wilhelm Prym, who was known to
be working in Aachen around 1530. His great-grandson, Christian Prym,
a Protestant, was forced to leave the Catholic city of Aachen during the
Thirty Years’ War and, in 1642, he settled with his family in Stolberg,
where he set up in business as a master coppersmith.
Andrea Prym-Bruck, Michael’s wife, who is in charge of the corporate
archives, is the guardian of the family and company history. “That early

46

Succeeding for generations

Opposite Michael Prym, who
recently retired as CEO, at
Prym’s headquarters in Stolberg
Left A 1920s Prym
Rabattmarke — loyal customers
collected stamps in exchange
for a discount

Succeeding for generations

47

Prym

awareness of being different really strengthened the family ties,” she
says. “On top of that, with charcoal, ore, water and freedom of religion,
the family found in Stolberg the backdrop they needed to develop into
an exceptional company.” There were, however, obstacles to overcome.
Following the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Rhineland passed into
Prussia’s possession, which meant that Prym lost its French market and
the workforce shrank from 250 to just 8. William Prym, the leader at
the time, restored the company to a robust state of health, however, and
to this day it bears his name. His son, Heinrich August, furthered the
company’s growth. He completed an apprenticeship in Birmingham in
England and put his newly acquired knowledge to good use by introducing
the mechanical production of metal goods to the German market.
The real catalyst for the growth of the company, however, proved to be
1903, he developed a reliable fastening mechanism, produced it in brass
manufactured eight million snap fasteners a day — all rustproof and
for the armed forces, became one of the company’s major customers. And
so, in the years leading up to World War I, Hans Prym built not only the
company’s headquarters but also a foundry and a rolling mill.
T
it was already active in the US, where today it is the largest supplier of
haberdashery, including snap fasteners, zippers, sewing needles and
knitting needles. Over time, a large part of Prym’s production activities
three divisions: Prym Consumer, which produces sewing and needlework
accessories; Prym Fashion, which makes snap fasteners and fastening
systems for the fashion and textiles industry; and Inovan, which produces
connectors and mechanical precision parts for the automotive electronics
and telecommunications sectors.
From humble beginnings, William Prym now employs a global workforce
of 3,900 people. In 2010, the company reported sales of €360m
(US$514m) — despite having been on the brink of disaster only two
years earlier. “We had immense problems,” says Michael, who joined the
company in the mid-1970s, when it was run by non-family executives. His
cousin Axel also joined the board of directors in 1988, at about the same
time as the company split into several independent sub-groups.

48

Succeeding for generations

The late 1990s brought a series of commercial misfortunes and failures.
“We were loss-making in a big way,” recalls Michael. “We were turning
out 15 million snap
A misguided investment policy led the company to lose more than
€100m (US$140m)
monopolies commission, which demonstrated that the company had been
-needle manufacturers.
In 2004, the commission
€30m (US$42m), which
was reduced by the European Court of Justice Luxembourg to €27m
(US$38m). Events took a dramatic turn when the antitrust investigators
57m).
“All of the partners in the company had lost vast personal assets, and
we were thoroughly disillusioned,” Michael says. What had once been a
great strength of the company — the common interests of the partners —
was in danger of breaking up. But it was not only the partners who had
kept silent for too long. “Our supervisory bodies failed us. They proved
incapable of exercising their corporate governance mandate.”
Shortly after Michael retired in 2005, his cousin Axel also stepped down
from the board. It was the end of a tradition stretching back centuries: for

Left The Prym family in 1890
Below Hans Friedrich Prym, who
in 1903 developed the double-S
snap fastener — a key earner for
the company

member of the family. But things were about to get worse: in light of the
authorities, the banks urged the partners to sell their stakes in the
company. The family was facing the loss of the entire company.
In response to this situation, the partners set aside their own interests
and turned their thoughts to the welfare of the company. In a painful
process, they came to realize that they could only save it through
coordinated action as a family. “We had been shipwrecked on the high
seas and were each holding on to individual planks,” recalls Andrea, who
ultimately persuaded her husband’s cousin that they would only survive if
they brought all the planks together and built a raft.
The raft took the shape of a partners’ committee comprising four
members of the family, including Andrea and Axel, who acted as trustees
for the entire community of partners. Their common goal of rescuing the
company gave them the strength to resist pressure from the banks.

Succeeding for generations

49

Prym Group

unanimously said no. “We refused to give up,” says Michael. “Together,
we faced up to our responsibilities and found a tremendous source of
strength.” The banking consortium was impressed by the family’s show of
solidarity and prolonged its lines of credit. Ultimately, even the European
Commission proved amenable; Michael suspects that it didn’t want to be

the second round of proceedings to €15m (US$21m).
B
family members on the management team? “You can — and, indeed, you
must — act as an entrepreneur without being involved on the operational
side,” says Michael, pointing to the positive creative forces that the family
brought to bear in a time of crisis. The fact is, though, the company only
of margins. “There was no shortage of arguments in favor of excluding
family members from management entirely in the future,” recalls Michael.
“But then I considered the next generation and asked myself why we should
anchor something in the articles of incorporation that would deny all future
Pryms this opportunity, just because we weren’t able to make use of it.”
In 1936, Hans Prym had laid down a rule stating that no one should
become a member of the board of management merely by virtue of being
born into the family. In an 80-page partnership agreement, he decreed
as external candidates. The bar will be set even higher in the future. “Any
with another company,” says Michael. “Family candidates must be able to
demonstrate a successful track record at the level at which they want to
work at Prym — which means at the very top.”
Andrea and Michael Prym’s own children are initially planning their
careers outside of William Prym, although they and their cousins have
a long-term commitment to the revision of the partnership agreement.
They are, however, busy acquiring skills that could well become important

50

Succeeding for generations

“Family candidates must be able to demonstrate a
successful track record at the level at which they want
to work at Prym — which means at the very top”
Michael Prym

investment bank, Michael-Dominic is studying economics in Witten and,

Above A late-1950s portrait of the Prym factory

training as a mediator.

Opposite Michael Prym outside the old headquarters
on Zweifaller Strasse, which Hans Prym built more
than a century ago

Succeeding for generations

51

WICOR

Perpetual motion
It’s a classic turnaround story: rescued from
bankruptcy in the 1920s, Swiss manufacturer
WICOR is now a global name in the
electronics and plastics technology sectors

I

’m more of an entrepreneur than a manager,” says Franziska Tschudi,
CEO and Delegate of the Board of Directors of Switzerland’s Weidmann
International Corp., or WICOR. The Rapperswil-based company, which has
been in her family’s hands for the better part of a century, is a leading
global supplier of engineered products and services to the electronics and
plastics technology sectors. In 2009, it posted CHF669m (US$763m) in
sales and employs nearly 3,700 people.
The company has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a
single pressboard and cardboard factory founded in 1877 by Heinrich
Weidmann. Using Rapperswil’s old water-powered town mill on the eastern
shore of Lake Zurich, Weidmann supplied insulation materials to the
When he died without a successor in 1914, the management and local
townspeople took over the company and transformed it into a joint stock
snapped up about 10 acres of land in the area and built a modern factory
In 1923, the company was rescued from bankruptcy
paperboard mill in the nearby town of Ennenda. The mill made specialty
boards for non-electrical applications, mainly rotary printing.
Jean’s son, Hans Tschudi-Faude, formed the electrical and plastics
technology divisions that power the company to this day. When plastic
resin components, in particular Bakelite, became fashionable in the 1930s,

52

Succeeding for generations

Succeeding for generations

53

WICOR

to make machine parts for the textile industry. The company experimented
with the use of plastics in electrical insulation, but the leadership soon
decided that the material wasn’t ideal for this purpose. Nevertheless,
having acquired new production expertise, Weidmann took advantage of

Above, from left
Heinrich Weidmann founded
the company in 1877
Jean Tschudi-Klaesi, leader of
the consortium that rescued
the company from bankruptcy

in Switzerland in 1952. Dr. Felix Tschudi-Hubacher, who took over from

Hans Tschudi-Faude, who

pouncing on acquisition opportunities in countries such as the US, France,

injection machine

The different business units were regrouped under the roof of the WICOR
holding company in 1994.
Today, WICOR is the global leader in electrical insulation for power and
distribution transformer manufacturers. It offers a wide range of insulation,

Felix Tschudi-Hubacher
established WICOR’s
international reputation

54

for high-voltage insulation collapsed during World War II, the company did
well thanks largely to its booming plastics technology division, producing
everything from components for
telecommunications industry.
In 1948, Hans Tschudi traveled to the US
machine. At the same time, the company was expanding its electrical

Succeeding for generations

from board and paper to customized components and packages, as well as
technical support and design assistance. The company is also developing
analysis. WICOR’s Electrical Technology division accounts for more than
two-thirds of sales.
The other arm of the business, Weidmann Plastics Technology, produces
sophisticated multi-component molded plastics applications for carmakers,
including Daimler, BMW and Peugeot, and medical-device manufacturers,
such as Swiss drug giant Roche. In total, WICOR has production sites in
12 countries, including Ukraine, China, Germany and Mexico. It also has

then known as Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft, which supplied
carton packaging, packaging machines, railroad vehicles, automation
solutions and arms.
She also holds law degrees from the University of Bern in Switzerland
and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and has an executive MBA
from Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen.
For Tschudi, the prospect of working for a family-owned company that
was focused on business rather than internal politics was an exciting one.
“Apart from being a leader, I always wanted to be part of a team-oriented

and then as the member of the management board responsible for

initially had to convince the management board and employees that she
was the right person for the job.
“Although I had proven myself at the company, I was considered an
outsider and was forced to change the whole patriarchal corporate
culture,” she says. “That took longer than I thought, but as long as you
manage to instill a value-based, family-style culture, then you can inspire

But her professional experience wasn’t formed in a WICOR bubble:
prior to joining the company, she had worked at Lenz & Staehelin, one of

T
that, as

15 countries (8 of which also have manufacturing sites).
By the time she succeeded her father at WICOR when he retired in 2001
at age 70, Franziska Tschudi knew the business inside out and was keen to
build on its success, through acquisitions as well as organic growth. She

Above, from left The factory in
Rapperswil being built in 1919
Telephones being produced by
a plastic injection molding plant
Product samples made out
of Bakelite, a plastic resin
compound, circa 1930

Succeeding for generations

55

WICOR


a customer or market, we can succeed
in another part of our business. This
survive, but also to grow and thrive during
our 135-year history”
Franziska Tschudi

or focus narrowly on short-term returns, WICOR has always been
adept at branching out into different directions in reaction to changing
market needs. “That’s one of the major pluses of being a privately held
business,” she says. “We can make decisions faster than many publicly
traded companies, while taking a long-term view of the business with an
emphasis on innovation.

succeed in another part of our business,” adds Tschudi, who dislikes the
term “crisis” and prefers to speak of rebuilding rather than restructuring.
“Essentially, one of the two arms of the business is always carrying the
survive, but also to
grow and thrive during our 135-year history.”
S
“We intend to remain a leader in the electrical world, while developing
our potential on the plastics side. As our markets and customers evolve,
we will evolve with them.”
T
both areas. On the plastics side, for example, it recently began using
cutting-edge nano- and micro-technology for medical devices and
develops illuminated components for automobiles. “That didn’t exist
She adds that, increasingly, price is as
important to customers as quality. “We will never, ever, offer cheaper

56

Succeeding for generations

stuff, but we need to have innovative products incorporating a better
overall cost aspect.”
After nearly a decade in the job, Tschudi says it’s too early to start
thinking about a successor, especially since the next generation of the
family is not yet of age. Her brother, Daniel, is her Deputy and Co-head of
the Electrical Technology business area, the larger of the two divisions.
“Whether or not this company will forever remain in the family, we do
not know,” she says. “That is why it is essential to ensure that we have

who will guarantee this company will survive even without our family.”
Meanwhile, she plans to continue the job she loves for a long time.
“Being at the steering wheel of a constantly changing company, knowing
that I am carried by a capable team of colleagues and a dedicated
workforce — that is the best I could ever want.”

Succeeding for generations

57

Timeline: Automotive

1900s For a time, electric cars outsell
petrol-powered cars in the US and are
considered a good choice for women
because they are quiet and clean.
However, they are slower than petrolor steam-powered alternatives and
can only go short distances before
having to be recharged.

Automotive
Getting us from A to B
1885 German Karl Benz invents

Our love affair with our cars looks
set to continue as automakers
move into the electric era

1700

1908 The Model T Ford is created.
It is easy to drive, reasonably priced
and becomes very popular. To meet
demand, another, larger factory
is opened in 1910 in Michigan,
where Ford begins employing
standardization of parts and, in
1913, a continuous assembly
line. This revolutionizes the
manufacturing process and
lowers costs. The success
of the Model T makes Ford
the largest carmaker in
the world.

which is driven in Mannheim
and given a patent the following
year. It is three-wheeled
and powered by an internal
combustion engine.

1800

as being sold commercially.

1945 Serial production of the Volkswagen
Beetle begins after World War II. The car is
developed by Ferdinand Porsche and is the
basis of Volkswagen’s success today.
2009 Inventor Giles
Cardozo and British
soldier Neil Laughton
1990s Increasing environmental
awareness means that hybrid
cars begin to grow in prominence
and popularity. The Toyota Prius
and Honda Insight are launched,
as well as Smart microcars with
very small engines.

1937 Toyota Motor Co.
is established by Kiichiro
Toyoda. The carmaker
has always maintained
a family-run tradition.

1935 A manufacturer in Delaware
blinkers, which use a thermal

London to Timbuktu.

2000

1950

1900

1830s Scotsman Robert Anderson

1960s There are 95 million cars on the road,
compared with about 9,000 in 1900. They
are almost all powered by internal combustion
engines and the industry begins trying to reduce
emissions from vehicles. In California, positive
crankcase ventilation has to be used in all 1961
cars. The system, which means certain emissions
are burned rather than being released into the air,
becomes widely used as the decade progresses.

1940
The US Army invites companies to
design an all-terrain vehicle and
orders some from Willys Truck
Company, Bantam and Ford. Jeeps
are used during World War II and

1957 O’Reilly Auto Parts, originally
known as O’Reilly Automotive,
Inc., starts with one store in

of electricity temporarily.

electric car, although American
Thomas Davenport invents a similar
vehicle at around the same time.

1980 Japan overtakes the US as the biggest
time in the history of the industry. Its focus on
international expansion has paid off, backed
1931 Ferdinand
Porsche founds his

1769 Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot
invents a three-wheeled,
self-propelled tricycle for the
French army that is powered
by a steam engine. The vehicle
is used to move artillery and
can do more than 2mph. It has
with water and to allow steam
pressure to build up again.

1865 With self-propelled automobiles emerging, such as
a steam locomotive built by Richard Trevithick, the British
Government brings in a law restricting vehicles to 4mph
in the countryside and 2mph in towns, and someone has

1903 The Ford Motor
Company Inc. is founded
with Henry Ford as Vice
President and Chief
Engineer. It makes a few
cars a day, with small
groups of workers putting
together parts that are
made by other companies.

with the help of his
son, Ferry Porsche,
goes on to design a car
for Wanderer.

focus on building popular cars.

1958
use cruise control. Engineer
and inventor Ralph Teetor
had patented the system 13
years earlier. The story goes
that Teetor was inspired by
his lawyer’s erratic driving; he
would slow down and speed
up while he was talking. Teetor
was blinded as a child but built

2008 Indian conglomerate Tata
unveils the Nano. At £1,300, it is
the cheapest new car in the world.
Its “people’s car” seats four people
and can do 65mph. It is launched in
India in 2009.
2011 Fisker
Automotive launches
the Karma, which, at
almost US$100,000,
moves the hybrid car
into the luxury market.

of 12 with his cousin and went
on to become a successful
inventor and engineer.
58

Succeeding for generations

Succeeding for generations

59

Barceló

From Mallorca with love
Can one old truck form the basis for a
tourism empire? For proof, look no further
than Barceló, the Spanish travel company
with family at its heart

A

s unlikely as it sounds, the Spanish island of Mallorca is one of the
birthplaces of modern European tourism. The island had been a
gathering spot for the rich and powerful for decades, but as the industrial
revolution gave rise to a large European middle class in the early part of
the 20th century, tens of thousands of newly empowered workers set their
sights on the small island 150km off the coast of Barcelona.
Fast-forward 100 years and Mallorca is still a tourism hotspot. It attracts
more than 10 million visitors a year — nearly 15 times the island’s yearround population — but, more importantly, family-oriented Mallorcans have
used the expertise earned from generations of working with tourists to

city. All of them are family owned.
The second-oldest of these companies is the Barceló Corporation, which
was founded in 1931 by Simón Barceló Obrador, then just 29 years old.
He borrowed money from friends, his in-laws and other family members to
buy an old truck, which he used to shuttle mail, newspapers and, later, the
occasional tourist around the island. Before long, his two eldest sons began
to work alongside him as the business expanded to include a bar in the
hotel property, the Hotel Latino.
Today, the company employs more than 26,000 workers at 185 hotels
and more than 500 tourist agencies spread across 24 countries. Yet it
remains privately held by the Barceló family: cousins Simón Barceló Tous

60

Succeeding for generations

and Simón Pedro Barceló Vadell, grandchildren of founder Simón Barceló,
are Co-presidents. They took over from their fathers, the founder’s eldest
sons, who started out working in the bar in Felanitx.
The family members remain aware and intensely proud of the company’s
history. In 2006, they produced a book,
. 75 years.
our journey together, to celebrate the anniversary of the company’s
founding. Co-president Barceló Vadell, whose company responsibilities
are centered in Europe (cousin and Co-president Barceló Tous is based
in the Americas), can rattle off the key dates and developments in the
organization’s history with ease. “The family’s history and the history of the
company is something we are all very conscious of,” Barceló Vadell says.
“That history is the basis for where we are today. We want the company to
grow, and we are an innovative company. But when it comes to this aspect,
we are extraordinarily conservative, because we would never do anything
that would put at risk the company that our fathers gave us and that we
intend to pass on to our children.”
That philosophy has served the company well. When the founder died
succession plan in place, his sons Sebastián (Barceló Tous’ father) and
Gabriel (Barceló Vadell’s father) were forced to take over the company
situation would never happen again. Gabriel retired in 1993 with a plan in
place: his brother took the reins of the company for seven years and the
family spent the interim years conferring with advisors. They set up and

Opposite Simón Pedro Barceló
Vadell. Above Barceló opened
the Hotel Pueblo in 1966

Succeeding for generations

61

Barceló

“The most important thing we can do to prepare the
next generation is to instill in them our core values.
We don’t want to forget where we came from“
Barceló Vadell

Right Founder Simón Barceló
Obrador, holding one of his sons,
in 1928. His wife, Antonia Oliver,
is standing (far left)

Left The Hotel Latino was
hundreds of hotels and tourist
agencies in nearly 30 countries

62

Succeeding for generations

consulted with an administrative board that included both Sebastián and

many changes in the Spanish hotel sector. But one thing has helped to
make his job simpler: the fact that the hotel sector is expanding rapidly.

the co-presidency.
Barceló Tous and Barceló Vadell stepped in when Sebastián retired in
2000. “The biggest challenges for a family-run company are usually the
transition periods,” Barceló Vadell explains. “It is always better for it to be a
process and not an event, as it was for us in 1958. This has been a priority
for the company for many years.”
The next period of succession shouldn’t come for a while yet, as the two
co-presidents are both young. But Barceló Vadell says that the potential
successors are to be prepared, whether through their studies or by working

sector,” he says. “Companies have a much harder time in other economic

executives are from outside the family (though usually from inside the
company, which prefers to promote from within). He says, however, that
when it is time for his cousin and him to retire, he believes the fourth
generation of Barcelós will be ready to step in.
“The most important thing we can do to prepare the next generation is to
instill in them our core values,” he says. “We don’t want to forget where we
came from. The company has progressed through the hard work of a great
many people and it’s a big responsibility to maintain that in the future.”
Barceló Vadell represented Mallorca in the Spanish Senate until 1993,
when he left politics to work full time for the company just before his
father’s retirement. In the nearly two decades since then, he has seen

Looking ahead, the company has its eyes on growth in areas where it
already has a presence — still mostly Europe and the Americas. “People say
future growth is in Asia, but we aren’t ready for Asia,” says Barceló Vadell.
For him, Europe — particularly Portugal and Italy — is attractive in terms of
expansion, as is using the company’s footholds in the US, Central America
and the Caribbean as a springboard to South America and Canada. But he
also admits that
area that is evolving as quickly as the hotel business.
“As part of the succession strategy put in place by my father and uncle,

to be in 2010, but we postponed it for two years because it was so much
harder to look ahead with any clarity. The important thing is to know your
business well and to be prepared for whatever might come up. If you know
your sector well, you’ll have a good chance of

Simón Pedro Barceló Vadell with his father, Gabriel Barceló, in the 1970s. Simón is among the third
generation of Barcelós to join the business

Succeeding for generations

63

Berry Bros. & Rudd

Time in a bottle
Berry Bros. & Rudd, England’s oldest wine
merchant, may be 300 years old, but the
British institution is constantly innovating

Opposite Simon Berry in the
wine cellar at No.3 St. James’s
Street — Berrys now has its main
cellar in Basingstoke, England
Below Inside No.3. The scales
on the left have been used to
weigh eminent customers from
Lord Byron to the Agha Khan

S

tep through the door of London’s No.3 St. James’s Street and the

creak and a well-dressed man (who prefers Bordeaux himself) orders a
case of Sancerre for his wife. Appearances, however, can be deceiving.
Berry Bros. & Rudd may cling tightly to its 300-year history, but the
company is not trapped in amber. Behind the oak paneling and antique
wine bottles that line its walls is a laser focus on progress.
Simon Berry is the latest in a long line of Berrys and Rudds to lead
surrounded by reminders of its past, from the 18th-century shopfront,
with its countless layers of grey-green paint, to the portraits of royalty in
military garb and former chairmen that are dotted around the premises.
All this history could weigh heavily on the shoulders of the man who is the
public face of this venerable British institution. But, if anything, it seems to
provide the fuel that keeps Berry Bros. & Rudd growing and changing — he
calls it a “warehouse of ideas.”
The story begins in 1698, when the Widow Bourne opened a grocer, the
Coffee Mill, a stone’s throw from the gatehouse of St. James’s Palace. The
handed down through the Pickerings and their relations until 1788, when

John Berry, a wine merchant from Exeter, inherited the shop on the
death of the current owner, whose daughter he had married. It’s to him
that the credit must go for cementing the Berrys’ place in the business;

64

Succeeding for generations

Succeeding for generations

65

Berry Bros. & Rudd

he named his son, George, heir to the shop when the boy was just a year
old. By the time George joined the business in 1803, aged 16, it was part
of the fabric of London life. It had begun supplying wine and goods to
the royal family in 1760, during the reign of King George III — a practice
that continues today. And its famous coffee scales had been weighing
luminaries, from 18th-century dandy Beau Brummell to poet and lothario
Lord Byron, since 1765.
George Berry took over the running of the business fully in 1810. On his
death in 1854, his sons inherited the business, and Berry Bros. was born.
But what about the other family — the Rudds? This half of the

This page, from left
Anthony Berry, Simon Berry’s
father, who died in 2010

enter the business
The sign of the Coffee Mill,
the shop’s original name.
It still hangs outside No.3
St. James’s Street

66

Succeeding for generations

son of a Norwich wine merchant, joined Berry Bros. as a junior partner.
Little did he know how key a role he would play in the company’s history.
Between 1936 and the end of World War II, four members of the Berry
family died. Hugh Rudd was left to sort out death duties and keep the
company going. As a result, the Rudd family today holds about threequarters of the shares. “Quite rightly,” says Simon Berry. “It’s a miracle
we had any left at all!”
The two families have been working together for 90 years now, and
Berry paints a picture of a harmonious partnership, to the extent that
they rarely even have to resort to a boardroom vote. He says that the
families get along “fantastically well” — not to the point of going on holiday
together, perhaps, but maintaining a spirit of respect and generosity.
“There is a very good distance in the relationship,” he says.

Berry himself joined the business in 1977 and has been Chairman since
2005. He grew up surrounded by the wine business and his parents always
assumed that, being the only son, he would join the company. He had other
ideas, however, and left the company in 1979. “I thought, why should this
be what I’m going to spend my life doing?” he says. “It took me a year and
a half to realize that this was a wonderful company and I was mad to think
of doing anything else.”
A
The generation before him had run the company fairly conservatively since
the devastation of World War II and it hadn’t really changed much since
then. For Berry, this was a challenge to relish. “It was like discovering an
immaculate Rolls Royce in the garage, covered in a layer of dust,” he says.
“It would require a certain amount of love and care to keep it going, but
then you could do almost anything with it.”
The turning point for Berry Bros. & Rudd came in the early 1990s.
Berry’s predecessor, his cousin Christopher Berry Green, had realized that
what the company needed as it grew more complicated and challenging

good idea.” Part of this, in his view, is that families should be the ones
coming up with the big, bold ideas, and management should be the
tempering force, either giving the green light or advising against it for
Bringing in outside talent brought major changes for the company: in
1994, Berry Bros. opened a duty-free shop at London’s Heathrow Airport
and, recognizing that the heart of the wine world was shifting away from
the US and towards Asia, launched its wine sales in Hong Kong in 1999.
I
retailing: BBR.com launched in 1994, before many members of the board
even knew what the internet was, according to Berry. “In the beginning, it
a 1947 Cheval Blanc, to be delivered to New York City that weekend. That’s
the power of the name.” The website now brings in 20% of the company’s
sales. There’s a blog, an app and even an online wine-trading platform.
The other big change came in 2010, when the company sold Cutty Sark,
the blended whisky it had created in 1923. Always a big seller abroad,
particularly in the US during the Prohibition era, it had propped up the

family Managing Director, Tony Easter, who retired from that position in
2006 and was succeeded by Hugh Sturges.
Berry is a strong advocate of family businesses taking outside advice.
“The business is not just there to give powerful jobs to members of the

wine side of the business continued to evolve, the lack of synergy between
the wine side and Cutty Sark become more apparent.
The company decided that premium brand spirits would be a better

they will see that this big step into the unknown is usually an extremely

such as Glenrothes, a single malt whisky, and the recently launched

No.3 London Dry Gin. Berrys is also redoubling its marketing efforts behind
the King’s Ginger, a liqueur originally formulated in 1903 for King Edward
VII that has become popular in San Francisco as a cocktail mixer.
While these big ideas are what keep the company growing and changing,
the company should not become a repository for unemployable members
of the family, and he and Hugh Sturges have introduced a rule saying that
any family member who wants to join the company must have a university
degree and must have worked in a completely different sector for at least
two years. This not only weeds out the less serious candidates, it also gives
the younger members of the family a chance to think about whether joining
the company is what they really want to do.
The younger generations are always at the back of Berry’s mind. While
he doesn’t plan to step down any time soon, he knows that it’s best to start
planning for succession sooner rather than later. “Succession can be tricky,
and sometimes quite painful, so clarity is the main thing,” he says. Over the
next couple of years, he and Sturges will hatch a succession plan, looking at
the three or four strong candidates in the coming generation and perhaps
even further down the line.
I
than many younger, non-family companies. The secret to this success
isn’t really a secret at all, says Berry: “Never stop changing. It’s much
more dangerous to stay in the same place than it is to make one or two
wrong moves.”

This page, from left
A photograph of No.3
St. James’s Street in the late
19th century
A turn-of-the-century customer
being weighed on Berrys’
famous scales
Berrys’ wine buyer Jasper
Morris and Burgundy-based
winemaker David Clarke.
Along with Simon Berry, they
appeared in a 2009 BBC
program, Wine: The Firm

Succeeding for generations

67

Berry Bros. & Rudd

“Never stop changing. It’s much more dangerous
to stay in the same place than it is to make one or
two wrong moves”
Simon Berry

68

Succeeding for generations

Succeeding for generations

69

11 AD
restaurants are
established in Kaifeng,
China. The concept
develops in the coming
years so that, in a town

70

Succeeding for generations

2000 BC In ancient
China, people sink
bamboo boreholes
into the ground,
extract brine and
boil it to get salt.
Salt is a valuable
commodity because
it is used to preserve
food. In ancient
Greece, slaves
are traded for salt,
which leads to the
phrase “not worth
his salt.”

to stay in Greece.

16th century
potatoes to the UK and
Ireland from South America,
where they have been eaten
for thousands of years.
People need a crop that can
be grown easily on small
plots and does not need to
be processed.

1000

1500

1600

1698

4000 BC The oldest known winemaking facility is in use in Armenia.
Archaeologists, who discover it in
2011, believe people trod the grapes
in a shallow basin that drained into
a vat. This scale of wine production
suggests it had been drunk for some
time before this date.

2000 BC

In 1922, Evangelos Papadopoulos, his mother and

1884 Arvid Nordquist
opens a shop in
Stockholm to supply
Swedes with delicacies,
coffee and wine. His
business, still in
family hands, has
now developed into a
multinational company
trading in high-quality
food and drink.

signs with details of
local establishments
and customers’
opinions of them.

It’s sparked wars and fueled
empires, induced cravings and
fallen victim to calorie-counting.
Food is more powerful than it seems

1916 The Papadopoulos family begins baking
biscuits to sell from their home in Constantinople.

1916

Food and drink
Satisfying our need for
sustenance — and pleasure

4000 BC

1884

Timeline: Food and Drink

1500 BC The Olmec Indians in South America grow
cacao as a domestic crop and use it to make a bitter
drink. Later, the Spanish take cocoa beans to Europe
and, at the end of the 19th century, milk is added to
make chocolate for eating.

1920 It all starts
with the chicken
and the egg
— Perdue, the
family-owned
and -operated
poultry company,
is founded.

1876 F & J Heinz, famous
for its tomato ketchup, is
founded in Pennsylvania by
Henry John Heinz with his
brother and cousin.

1900

1800
1698 Berry Bros. & Rudd, Britain’s oldest wine and
spirit merchant, is established in London. Berrys and
Rudds still own and run the company. It has supplied
wine to the royal family since the time of George III.

1955
is opened in the US. A decade later,
the chain has expanded to encompass
700 branches across the country.

1824
grocer’s shop in Birmingham, selling hops,
mustard, cocoa and drinking chocolate. In
1831, he expands into a factory, marking

2000
1906 Kellogg’s is founded as Battle Creek
Toasted Corn Flake Company after brothers
Will and John Kellogg “accidentally” discover
a new breakfast cereal.

2011 The number of Subways around the
world passes the 33,000 mark. Set up by
Fred DeLuca and Peter Buck in 1965, it has
expanded through a franchise system — it
claims that an average of six stores open each
week in the UK and Ireland alone.

full-scale chocolate manufacturer and
household name in the UK and globally.

1935 Tyson Foods,
Inc., one of the
world’s largest
processors and
marketers of
chicken, beef and
pork, is founded
in Springdale,
Arkansas.

Succeeding for generations

71

Papadopoulos

Sugar, spice and everything nice
From refugees to the creators of Greece’s
most popular cookie brand: for the
Papadopoulos family, necessity truly was
the mother of invention

N

inety years ago, in 1922,
to escape the devastation of the Greco-Turkish War. Along with many
other refugees, they boarded a boat bound for Marseilles, expecting to
make their new life in France. Stopping at the port of Piraeus for refueling,
however, they asked for coffee and cookies and were told they could only
have the coffee, for cookies were in short supply in Greece.
This was the moment that decided the family’s history. They changed
their plans and disembarked, because in their few belongings they carried
with them their precious recipe for “petit beurre” — buttery cookies that
the family had sold on the streets of Constantinople to supplement the
meager family income. A simple wooden seal, which they also carried with
them, imprinted the cookies with the family name.
From a refugee apartment in the center of Athens, current CEO Ioanna
Papadopoulou’s grandmother bought a small oven and began once more to
bake her cookies, while her sons Nicolaos and Evangelos sold them on the
streets. This time, however, a new seal printed the words “Papadopoulos
Brothers, Hellas.” The family’s hard work and determination eventually
manufactured not only their signature Petit Beurre, but also Cream
Crackers and Sandwich Biscuits, which are still produced today.
The wooden seal sits proudly on display in the lobby of the Athens
headquarters. With three other factories in Thessaloniki, Volos and
Oenophyta, and a staff of about 1,000, the company is now Greece’s
leading manufacturer of cookies and related food products, holding about

72

Succeeding for generations

70% of the domestic market. There are few homes in Greece that do not
have Papadopoulos products in their cupboard: generations of Greeks have
been raised on them.
Ioanna Papadopoulou studied food chemistry in England and began
bottom up. It is, she says, the only way. Since becoming CEO in 2002 after
her father’s death, she has kept true to the ethos that a family business
comprises not just the family, but the employees too. Loyalty is important
to her; at a time when many other companies in Greece and Europe are
company’s employees a salary increase. “In hard times,” she says, “you
must look after your own.”
She admits that the sector is in a strong market position; when people
cut down on luxuries, cookies are still affordable treats. Even though the
slightly, tonnage production increased. This is because, in tough times,
company policy is to give free incentives to consumers, such as an extra
packet of cookies or a free sample. Success comes, says Papadopoulou,
from having a product of which you are proud and goals that are affordable
and achievable. Her father, Evangelos, the founder of the modern company,
always said that respect for the consumer is crucial.
Papadopoulou’s management style is informal and practical — “My
door is always open, my tables are round: we are all in this together.” She
encourages her employees to raise their problems with her as she loves to

The Papadopoulos family baked

that they began to market their
products properly, as this early
advertisement shows

Succeeding for generations

73

Papadopoulos

Opposite, from top The
Papadopoulos kiosk at a food
fair in Thessaloniki in 1925

“My door is always open, my tables are round:
we are all in this together”
Ioanna Papadopoulou

Ioanna Papadopoulou’s late
father, Evangelos (second from
right), on a ministerial visit
to the company’s factory in
Athens. His brother, Nikolaos,
is on the far left
Below A time before packaging:
the company’s cookies used to
be sold in bulk from metal boxes

help solve them. She compares her workforce to an orchestra; she might
be the conductor, but for the whole thing to work, everything must be well
tuned and in harmony.
To Papadopoulou, the advantage of being a family business is that,

This makes it simpler to respond to a volatile economic climate but, equally
importantly, it means there is the strength and security that comes from
stability. It is easier to have a long-term vision, to be patient, to try new
things without the pressure to constantly produce results. Her workforce,
too, commits for the long haul. “Many start with us and take their pensions
from us,” Papadopoulou says. She believes that successful companies must
That sense of respect extends to her attitude to the consumer.
Papadopoulou emphasizes the importance of listening to customers,
producing reliable and sustainable quality at the right price and responding
to changing market needs. This awareness of changing tastes and trends
has led to continual new product development. In 1978, the company
launched its sophisticated Caprice brand, and in 1985 came the highly
successful bread substitutes. In 2008, recognizing the growing interest
in healthy eating, especially from mothers with growing families, the
Papadopoulou proves that running a highly competitive and
successful business does not have to be an aggressive occupation. This

74

Succeeding for generations

is management with a gentle touch. “I love my work,” she says. “I love
factory in an Athens suburb smell of chocolate and vanilla. She hopes one
day to pass the business she inherited from her father to her family, but
one gets the sense that she will never really retire. “I know nothing other
than work — I love it,” she says.
The lobby in the factory proudly displays plaudits from the past, such
as a diplôme d’honneur awarded in Paris in 1937 for “Biscuits d’Athenes”
and a Medal d’Or in Brussels in 1930. Yet this is no museum or monument
to days gone by. The best of its traditional values remain, but the obvious
pride in the achievements of past generations, and a sense of stewardship,
lead the company to dynamically and enthusiastically invest in the future.
Papadopoulos prides itself on its commitment to innovation and
education, making sure it offers training to its staff. It is looking to expand
its export market, while continuing to develop and maintain its position in
the domestic market through the continued expansion of bread substitutes
and “added-value” products.
Ioanna Papadopoulou is proof that the successful transmission of a
business from generation to generation means respecting and building
on the best of the past, but stamping your individual mark on the future.
Her gentle but determined management means that the company is in
secret, she would tell you, is to love what you do and remember to put the

Succeeding for generations

75

Arvid Nordquist

Shop of many delights
From “exotic” canned pineapple to its
Classic brand coffee, Swedish retailer
Arvid Nordquist has been championing the
best in food and drink for the past 130 years

N

ot many 26-year-olds have the drive and ambition to open their own
business. Arvid Nordquist, who founded a delicatessen bearing his
name in central Stockholm in 1884, was one of these extraordinary few.
But even he could hardly have imagined that, more than a century later, his
grandson would be head of what has become one of the most respected
family-run trading houses in the Nordic region.
Having previously worked as a clerk, the grandfather of the current CEO,
Anders Nordquist, had learned the value of customer service and highquality goods. In practical terms, this meant that he made sure that people
who worked in his store, selling exquisite produce from around the world,
were just as polite and well groomed as he was.
The success of the company to this day owes much to its founder’s eye
for business opportunities within the food and beverage industry. Like
many successful entrepreneurs, he had spotted a gap in the market: in the
1880s, Stockholmers shopped in their local neighborhoods, but Arvid
believed he could attract customers from other parts of the city if his shop
offered exclusive beverages and delicacies. And this is exactly what he set
get anywhere else. So, despite the complicated nature of foreign travel at
the time, Arvid went abroad in order to establish trade agreements with
leading international companies such as Fortnum & Mason, a luxury food
hall in London, and French sardine supplier Rödel & Fils Frères.
And so it grew. Six years after opening the delicatessen, Arvid saw the
potential for a new market: supplying food and beverages to restaurants.

76

Succeeding for generations

So, in 1892, he moved the shop to Sturegatan, an elegant street near one
of the city’s premier parks. With its prime location, premium goods and
outstanding customer service, the shop attracted the high society of
siècle Stockholm. Royalty was among them and, in 1910, three years after
it became a limited stock company, Arvid Nordquist became Purveyor to
the Royal Swedish Court. In later years, both Arvid’s son Bengt and
grandson Anders received the same honor.
During the second decade of the 20th century, however, the company
and drastic price increases. In 1917, Sweden experienced its worst harvest
in 50 years, provoking riots in the capital. To make matters worse,
Parliament banned wine imports and introduced a state monopoly on the
sale of alcoholic beverages, slashing the company’s revenue overnight.
In spite of the forces working against it, Arvid Nordquist was able to
weather the storm by keeping a focus on its core values of premium service
and high-quality goods. In 1922, however, it was to face an even bigger
crisis: the unexpected death of its founder. He had married late in life and,
while he had no doubt dreamed of the family carrying on the business, his
son, Bengt, was just nine years old.
But, having had the foresight to turn Arvid Nordquist into a limited stock
company in 1907, Arvid had put in place the foundations that would
ensure the continued survival of the company well into the future. Johan
Hagström, a highly regarded vintner, became Chairman of the Board, and
Ernst Thelén, a friend and long-term employee of the company, became its

Above Arvid Nordquist
introduced its Classic coffee
brand in 1961 — this packaging
dates from around that time
Opposite Anders Nordquist,
the founder’s grandson, in the
company’s boardroom

Succeeding for generations

77

Arvid Nordquist

The Nordquist family in 2009
(left to right): son Wilhelm
with Dino the dog, Anders, wife
Ulrika and daughters Gabriella
and Beatrice

Left This photo, taken at the
store in the 1960s, shows Bengt
Nordquist, Anders’ father, on
the left, with two managing
directors. Anders and his
siblings Carin and Johan are
in the middle
Right Trucks deliver goods to
the store on Birger Jarlsgatan
in the 1960s

second in command. Thelén became CEO and worked to keep the business
running while Bengt grew up. It was a post he would hold until his own
death in 1941.
It could seem like a lot of pressure for a nine-year-old child, knowing that
the business was waiting for him, but Anders Nordquist believes that his
father had a strong desire to follow in his own father’s footsteps from a
young age. “He grew up in a household that only talked about the
business,” he says. “It was in his blood.”
Under Thelén’s mentorship, the young Bengt worked in the shop during
the school holidays. He started full-time work at the company when he was
22, and Thelén sent him to London, Paris, Hamburg and Berlin to learn
about the grocery and beverage trade and improve his languages.
Today, Swedes are known for their impeccable English, but in the 1930s,
foreign languages were not widely spoken in the country. Thelén’s insight in
sending the young Bengt abroad to gain experience ensured that the
company continued the strong international connections that its founder
had believed were vital to its success.
Bengt Nordquist became CEO of Arvid Nordquist after Thelén’s death in
circumstances. Despite Sweden’s neutrality, World War II had brought the
return of rationing and the company was cut off from foreign trade.
Nevertheless, Bengt’s continued belief in his father’s vision and the
company’s core values ensured its survival. “My father’s life was taken up
with the business,” says Anders Nordquist. “He was seldom home, devoting

78

Succeeding for generations

all his time to Arvid Nordquist. In a way, the business was family, and family
was the business.”
One of the ways in which Bengt brought this philosophy to life was by
establishing, in the early 1960s, a tradition of post-Christmas parties for
the children of his employees that continues to this day. At the party, each
child receives a toy that has been specially selected from NK — Sweden’s
most exclusive department store — and staff members are treated to
delicious foods in the true spirit of Arvid Nordquist. Bengt was also
instrumental in opening up new markets. Under his stewardship, the
company expanded its import agencies all over the world, searching out
good-quality products for Swedish restaurants and consumers.
For all its successes, the company had yet to attract the attention of one
key person: the young Anders Nordquist. “I was never going to work for the
family business,” he says, laughing. “Absolutely not! Instead, I chose to
study law. My father thought this was a good idea and put no pressure on
me to follow him into the business. I think the idea, of course, appealed to
him, but it was never forced upon me.”
remembers talking to Erik Nilsson, who was responsible for the purchasing,
quality control and production of coffee and who made it sound so exciting
that it caught Anders’ imagination.
As the industry changed and consumer trends wavered, the company
reluctantly made the decision to close the original delicatessen on
Östermalm in 1981. Anders Nordquist was then just 22, four years

younger than his grandfather had been when he started the business
almost a century earlier. Things had moved on and the company’s future
lay in trade.
It continued to import foreign foods and beverages, but it was at this
time that coffee became central to the Arvid Nordquist brand. In 1982, the
company built a new roasting house in Solna and when, 8 years later, at the
age of 31, Anders took over the responsibility for the company’s premium
product, he made major investments into new machines for coffee
production and environmentally friendly packaging.
After Bengt died in 1991, Anders, now a total convert, succeeded him as
CEO. He shares his eye for new possibilities with his father and
2002, and Helsinki in 2004. But coffee has stayed closest to his heart, and
it’s perhaps because of this that Arvid Nordquist is best known in Nordic
households for its Arvid Nordquist Classic brand.
The company, like all long-running businesses, has experienced its share

community of employees has helped it overcome adversity and grow from
generation to generation.
Like his father before him, however, Anders is putting no pressure on his

means they work for Arvid Nordquist one day, that would be wonderful,”
he says. “But if they don’t, the company will continue to thrive with people
who believe in the family ethos of mutual respect and understanding, and a
desire to provide the Nordic region with high-quality goods.”
Although no one can predict what the next 130 years will hold for Arvid
Nordquist, Anders is sure there is a bright future for the company, no
matter how the industry changes. “We’ve gone from selling ‘exclusive’
products such as canned pineapple, which my grandfather’s generation
premium-quality coffee,” says Anders. “As the market changes, Arvid
Nordquist will continue to look for new opportunities just as it has done

“As the market changes, Arvid Nordquist will continue to look
for new opportunities, just as it has done since my grandfather

Anders Nordquist

and foremost, it is important for them to pursue their own dreams. “If that

Succeeding for generations

79

1717 The notorious pirate
Blackbeard, whose real name is
possibly Edward Teach, acquires
his own ship. He attacks and
plunders vessels in the
Atlantic and the
Caribbean until
November 1718,
when he is killed
by a navy sailor.

Shipping

1871 Hamburg Süd is
founded. It is now part of the
Oetker Group, a family-owned
German conglomerate.

Oceangoing vessels have made
fortunes, won wars and expanded
the boundaries of the known world

1868

on the high seas
1577 to 1580 Sir Francis Drake
successfully circumnavigates the

1868 Govert Van Oord
founds a company
that will one day play a
role in creating some
of the world’s most
ambitious projects.

this feat. His trip sheds light on the
geography of the world. By the end
takes part in the voyage is left, and
Drake renames it the Golden Hind.

3000 BC

1400

3000 BC The ancient Egyptians
build boats made from wooden
planks tied together with rope.
People believe that, after he dies,
the pharaoh will sail down the Nile
with the sun god Ra in this boat.

15 AD During the Ming
Dynasty, China builds up one
of the most powerful naval

1500
1492 An expedition led
by Cristobal Colón, or
Christopher Columbus,
crosses the Atlantic and
reaches an island in the
Bahamas. The explorer
thinks he is in the East
Indies and, when he
reaches Cuba, decides
that it is Japan. In his
lifetime, Columbus
makes four trips across
the Atlantic but does not
realize he has reached
the Caribbean. He
lands on the mainland
of South America but
never reaches what is
now the US.

1700

1800

1769 The British
Government sends Captain
James Cook on an expedition
to the southern hemisphere,
ostensibly to observe Venus
passing in front of the sun.
In fact, another reason is to
believed to exist there. He
goes on three voyages to the
region in total, visiting Tahiti,
New Zealand and Tasmania,
and getting within 121km of
Antarctica. On his last trip,
Cook becomes involved in a
dispute with some Hawaiians
and is fatally stabbed. His
New Zealand and Australia.

80

Succeeding for generations

1904 The A.P. Moller–
Maersk Group is founded by
captain Peter Mærsk-Møller
and his son, Arnold Peter
Møller, in Svendborg.

1970 The
Mediterranean
Shipping Company
is founded. The
Geneva-based
company remains
independent and
wholly owned by CEO
Gianluigi Aponte and
his family.

2001

Timeline: Shipping

2001 Van Oord begins construction
of the Palm Jumeirah, a project to
create a huge palm-shaped island
from reclaimed land in Dubai.

1900

2000
2007 The Cutty
Sark, the only
tea clipper still
in existence, is

1829 An expedition to
the Arctic led by John and
James Clarke Ross lasts four
years as they get trapped in
icy conditions. The explorers
Oceans, a connection that
has been sought after for
hundreds of years.

1932
he names Calliroe after his sister. He marries
Athina Livanos, whose father is also a shipowner,
14 years later. Onassis goes on to become
a multimillionaire shipping magnate.

1961 The
Shipping
Corporation of
India, now the
largest shipping
company on the
subcontinent, is
created with the
amalgamation
of the Eastern
Shipping
Corporation and
Western Shipping
Corporation.

staff accidentally
leave a vacuum
cleaner running for
two days. A £50m
restoration project
is being carried out
and the ship is due
to reopen to the
public in 2012.

Succeeding for generations

81

Van Oord

Where land and water meet
Like many Dutch families, the Van Oords
have long made a living from the sea. From
harvesting marshland to dredging the Palm,
Van Oord is now an international concern

G

overt van Oord lived and worked in the marshlands of Biesbosch, in
the southwest of the Netherlands. A religious man, he was dismissed
in 1868 by his landlord employer when he refused to work on Sundays.
Instead, he rented and maintained a section of marshland covered with
willows and reeds, from which he made his living.
Govert’s four sons all entered the family business and, in 1919, they
established themselves as Gebr. Van Oord (Van Oord Brothers). Between
the two World Wars, the company gradually began to move into marine
construction sub-contracting. In 1948, the company was split up among
the four sons. One of these was Jac. G. van Oord, who, along with his two
eldest sons, Goof and Jan, continued the small earth-moving and marine
construction company under the Van Oord name.
The 1950s was a time of strong growth for Van Oord, precipitated
reconstruction work within the Netherlands. During the 1960s, the
company continued to expand and began to take on large infrastructural
projects in the Netherlands, such as motorway foundation, and large
canal and port construction projects. In the next decade, the company
spread its wings into the neighboring countries of Germany, Belgium,
France and Spain. “This was a far riskier proposition in the 1970s than
it is in today’s age of the internet and globalization,” says Koos van Oord,
CEO from 1995 to 2008 and the great grandson of Govert van Oord.
“It took us about 10 years of gradual transition and we felt like pioneers
at the time.”

82

Succeeding for generations

Van Oord’s expansion continued further abroad during the 1980s, which
was a time of great change. The dredging industry comprised numerous
result of adverse economic conditions. Consequently, there was a gradual
process of consolidation over the next 25 years and the competition
was reduced to a limited number of very large international concerns.
entrepreneurial spirit from the family, as well as the will to succeed,” says
Koos. “And, like any other business, we also needed a healthy slice of luck.”
In recent decades, Van Oord has transformed itself from a family-run
structures in place. During the 1990s, the company became a truly
global concern, undertaking the dredging work for the construction of
Hong Kong Airport in association with other contractors, as well as major
land reclamation projects in Singapore. Most recently, Van Oord was the
main dredging contractor for the Palm and World offshore real estate
development projects in Dubai, and was one of the leading contractors for
the Maasvlakte 2 expansion project at the Port of Rotterdam.
The company’s growth has accelerated in the past 20 years, partly due
to a merger with Ballast Ham Dredging in 2003. It
other offshore services, such as pipeline protection and the construction of
the largest offshore wind parks in the Netherlands and Belgium.
To this day, Van Oord remains a privately held company in which the
Van Oord family maintains a large majority shareholding. The company

Opposite (from left) Koos
van Oord, Chairman of the
Board of Merweoord, the family
investment holding company;
Karien van Oord, Chairman
of the family association;
Pieter van Oord, CEO of the
Van Oord company

Succeeding for generations

83

Van Oord

Opposite The Palm Jumeirah
in Dubai, a luxury development
in which Van Oord played a key
role. It is one of three Palms

Right Van Oord played a part in
protecting the Netherlands from
1953 storm surge
Below Pieter van Oord (right)
watches as the Mayor of
Rotterdam breaks ground for

(US$2.3b) and about 4,500 employees.
One of the reasons why Van Oord has enjoyed success for generations
is that it is constantly preparing for the future, assessing where it is today
and where it wants to be tomorrow. “This should be true of all companies,”
says Koos, “but one of the keys to creating a long-lasting family business is
there are problems with either of these aspects, both will suffer.”
The Van Oords put just as much effort into family matters as they do into
the business and have their own Family Association, which is open to all
family members over 18 years of age (currently, about 129 members).
It organizes social activities and has its own communication channels,
such as a newsletter and website. The association provides loans to family
entrepreneurs, runs a management training program and operates a
charitable foundation.
“The association keeps the family close together, creating a sense of
belonging and providing continuity,” says Koos. “One of the advantages of
Overleaf (from left) Karien,
Pieter and Koos van Oord
standing in the pumproom of
the seagoing cutterdredger
Athena, under construction
at the IHC Merwede shipyard
at Kinderdijk

84

Succeeding for generations

important, of course, but we are able to look much further ahead. It also
provides family members with a sense of history and of being involved in
something that is helping to create a better world. It’s very rewarding.”
A crucial moment for any family business is when it passes from one
generation to the next. Succession planning within Van Oord is one of the
most important tasks the family and company’s leaders face and typically

involves 5 to 10 years of forward and contingency planning. In fact, most
of the company’s leadership comes from non-family members; only six
members of the Van Oord family currently hold positions.
While the family would prefer to have one of its members at the
company’s helm, there is no guarantee of this. The appointment of each
new CEO is based on merit and capabilities alone. As a safeguard against
nepotism, any appointment of a family member within the company has
to be approved by a three-person committee, which contains at least two
are non-family members. “My own appointment as CEO was a very gradual
process,” Koos says. “After many years of working within the company and
receiving the appropriate training, at a certain point it became apparent
that I would be the most logical choice. However, it took quite some time
before I came to the same conclusion.”
He says that the same is true of his successor and cousin, Pieter van
Oord, who took over as CEO in 2008. Previously, Pieter had worked for
Phs. Van Ommeren — a large, internationally operating shipping and
forwarding company — for a number of years before joining Van Oord
in 1994. The board recognized his potential and guided him through
the preparation process, but at no point was his appointment as CEO
guaranteed. When it did eventually happen, it was based purely on the
objective assessment that he was the best man for the job.
Koos van Oord puts the company’s success down to entrepreneurship
and good leadership within the business. The ability to think long term
and anticipate required changes are also important factors, along with the
ability to attract outstanding non-family members and cooperation with
other business partners. “Any Van Oord family shareholder should consider
the company not as a possession but as a custodianship that will eventually
be passed on to someone else,” Koos concludes. “We need to ensure that
and clients, treats employees with dignity and treats the environment
with respect. As for the future, we will continue to explore expansion
possibilities for the business, which offers a sea of possibilities wherever
land and water meet.”

Succeeding for generations

85

Van Oord

86

Succeeding for generations

Succeeding for generations

87

GMR Group

A 21st-century legacy
The third generation of the Rao family may
only just have joined the family business, but
GMR is planning ahead. Its newly enshrined

E

ight members of the Rao family attended a conference in Jaipur on
family businesses in November 2000. The patriarch of the family, G.M.
Rao, is Group Chairman of GMR Group, the Bangalore-based infrastructure
conglomerate that he founded in 1978. He was there with his wife,
Varalakshmi, his two sons and daughter and their spouses. The conference
marked the beginning of a 10-year journey for the GMR family that

A decade later, on 22 March 2011, with colleagues, friends, family,
senior employees and a spiritual advisor in attendance, members of the
GMR family went up on stage and spoke about what the family constitution
meant to them and about their commitment to the company. Varalakshmi
spoke about upholding its values and culture, both within the family and
in the company. The two daughters-in-law spoke about being allowed the
space and freedom to articulate their views, express their doubts and
speak on behalf of their children. The sons spoke with humor and insight
about safeguarding their father’s legacy.
“We started off this process with my parents’ vision of wanting to see our
family together, implementing processes with clarity and communicating
well among ourselves,” says G.B.S. Raju, Rao’s eldest son and Chairman
of the Group Corporate Services and International Business Division.
“The whole process has resulted in a commitment to help our family build
a great institution together.”
Kiran Grandhi, Rao’s younger son and Chairman of the Airports Business,
adds: “I am personally committed to this process; it’s a part of me and part

88

Succeeding for generations

of us as a family. The chances of going wrong are now much slimmer.
While it doesn’t mean that we will avoid all differences, we are now much
better prepared to face them proactively and constructively. This makes
us much stronger.”
The GMR Group, one of India’s largest business conglomerates, is an
infrastructure developer operating in the energy, airports, highways and
urban infrastructure sectors. Its Bangalore headquarters takes up four

Turkey, Indonesia, the UK, South Africa and Singapore. But it remains, at
its core, the vision of one man: Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao.
One of four brothers, Rao grew up in a village in interior Andhra Pradesh,
in the southeast of India. Beginning with one jute mill, this self-made
businessman with big dreams is now involved in two of the most crucial
areas in the Indian economy: infrastructure and energy. Rao’s mantra for
success is this: “Embrace change. Create win-win situations. Be fearless.
Convert problems into opportunities. Excel at what you do. Give back to
society. And be humble.”
Crucially, he has placed as much emphasis on maintaining strong family
ties as he has on growing the business. Indeed, the openness among
the family members demonstrates the closeness of their bond. “In the
past 10 years, we’ve had 600 hours of meetings and everyone wanted
to be heard,” says Srinivas Bommidala, son-in-law of Rao and Chairman
of Urban Infrastructure and Highways on the GMR Group Holding Board.

Opposite
with a model of one of the
company’s biggest projects,
Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi
International Airport

Succeeding for generations

89

GMR Group

Left G.M. Rao at the GMR
Vemagiri Power Project
Right The GMR Power
Corporation plant in Chennai,
which both produces electricity
and converts raw sewage into
clean water

Above Terminal 3 at
Delhi’s Indira Gandhi
International Airport

“As my father-in-law said, we have experienced situations where people
say one thing and then, the moment they go home and discuss it with
their spouses, things change. We wanted to get the thoughts of all family
members on one platform. We have put a lot of mechanisms in place so
that intent and content can come together. We have created the content.
The intent has to come from the heart.”
Bommidala is married to Rao’s eldest child, Rama Devi. They have a
daughter, Susroni, and a son, Santosh, who are in their late teens. During
the signing of the family constitution, it was announced that Susroni would
Forum. Echoing universal parental concerns, Rao said that his 18-year-old
granddaughter couldn’t be present that day “because she has exams.”
But why go through a protracted 10-year exercise to create a family
constitution? Just matching the schedules of his clan so that they could
come together once a month for videotaped family sessions was a logistical
arranges meetings, and archives photographs and books.
For Rao, the founder and key instigator of the process, the journey
toward bringing the family together began in the 1980s, when he became
the non-executive Chairman of Vysya Bank. “As a banker, I saw that most
of the distressed businesses and non-performing assets were because of
family disputes,” he says. Watching other businesses splinter and fail gave
him the resolve and foresight to decide that it would not happen to his own
business — or his family.

90

Succeeding for generations

T
business advisors, consultants and academicians to facilitate a two-day

they allocate jobs within the businesses for future generations? What kind
of lifestyle should family members adopt, not just to set an example but
also because they believe in “humility” as a core value both in the business
and as a family? So far, all family members take the same remuneration.
Should that continue in the future? How will they allocate remuneration,
dividends and compensation as the businesses become more complex and
into the family? Should they be allowed to join the family business or
do something different? Who should speak to the media? How should
they manage and resolve differences? What are the family governance
mechanisms with respect to a family fund and succession planning?
“A lot of it had to do with ‘cleaning the pipelines’ so that each family
member could air differences and not keep issues simmering inside,” says
Rao, emphasizing that family disputes affect not just the family, but also
the business and the country.
Rao and his family agreed on certain basic protocols. There would be
no triangular communication. Instead, they would talk “unit to unit.” If a
daughter-in-law had an issue with her mother-in-law, they would talk things
out between themselves and not use their husbands as intermediaries.
“You have to run the business like a family and the family like a business,”

he says. But Rao’s gaze is not only directed inward. He has never forgotten
the company’s humble beginnings and places a strong emphasis on
corporate social responsibility. Twenty years ago, he founded an initiative
to bring high-quality education to the communities near GMR’s jute and
sugar operations at Rajam, Andhra Pradesh. Now called GMR Varalakshmi
Foundation after Rao’s wife, it is active in 22 locations in India and Nepal,
operating in education, healthcare, livelihood and community development.
In March 2011, just after the family constitution was legalized, Rao made
national news when he announced that he was donating his entire stake
in GMR Group, worth US$340m, to the foundation. The move led to
magazines anointing him as one of India’s 50 most powerful people and
politicians and policymakers lauding him for his gesture.
The future is never far from Rao’s thoughts. When his sons entered
the business, he found mentors whom they met and learned from. His
sons were rotated through a variety of positions, each with performance
appraisals and accountability. “Human capital is immeasurable,” notes
Bommidala. “You can quantify money; you cannot quantify human capital.
We, as a family, bring the entrepreneurial spirit and the passion. But we
also want to make the business professionally run. Professionals bring in
knowledge; the decision-making comes from the family. We try to bring in
the passion and drive; professionals bring in systems and processes. We
want these two parallel lines to merge at one particular point.”
In November 2010, the GMR Group came up with a vision for the future
and renewed its commitment to the business over the next 10 years. Called

Sankalp 2020 (Sanskrit for “resolve”), it outlined the group vision: “The
GMR Group will be an institution in perpetuity that will build entrepreneurial
organizations, making a difference to society through creation of value.”
Spirituality plays a large role in this vision. The family meditates together
and has a spiritual advisor who is almost a family member. “Spirituality
gives you humility,” says Rao.
With that, the soft-spoken man rises and sets out to undertake the next
Group into the next generation and beyond.

Succeeding for generations

91

Growth DNA model

Ernst & Young: helping you
succeed for generations
We understand the growth DNA of family
businesses and have the insight and
experience to support your unique needs

R

knowledge underpins what we call the “growth DNA of family business.”
Our bespoke family business services, based on this growth DNA model
(see diagram below), support the personal and company performance
agendas of family business leaders to help you succeed for generations.
We have industry and subject-matter professionals in key business
give you informed advice on how to leverage leading practices. As the
most globally integrated professional services organization, with more
than 141,000 people active in almost every country, we have extensive
experience of working on complex cross-border issues in both emerging
and developed markets.
Our services focus on the main areas of concern for family businesses; it
is these areas in which we believe we can be most useful to your family and
to your business.

unning a family business successfully is a balancing act between the
strategic issues related to your family and those connected with your
business. It also means steering the company successfully between the
forces at work in the marketplace and those within the family.
As an organization focused on entrepreneurship, with a dynastic will
to build a stronger business generation after generation, Ernst & Young
relates to and understands the issues that family businesses face.
Through our ongoing research program and our close liaison with
leading family business organizations, we know that family businesses are

92

Succeeding for generations

capital injections.
S
T
may be looking to explore new markets and broaden
your product/service mix to exploit opportunities,
achieve optimum returns and mitigate risk. This may
involve pioneering, innovative entry strategies, with any
acquisitions seamlessly integrated into your business, and
realizing backthe top
and bottom lines.
Managing and retaining talent
A company is only as good as its employees; this principle
applies even more in our globalized world. Increased
cost-consciousness, market volatility, international
assignments, legal requirements, tax complexities and
the retention of top performers present a whole host of
challenges to family businesses.

to their longer-term perspective, which allows them to avoid the pitfalls of
and strong supplier relationships; and their unwavering commitment to
quality and customer focus.
However, there is the constant dual challenge of securing the long-term
existence of the business through growing the company, while balancing
the risk of doing so. Any strategic decision to expand or change the
business must not be taken at the expense of eroding value or threatening
the family business’s long-term survival. An aligned family and business
strategy will secure both your family’s and your company’s values on
a long-term and sustainable basis. It also forms the foundation for the
planning of ownership and management succession.
Each family business is unique, yet each has much in common;
understanding these success factors and taking advantage of that

Managing capital
Capital is the lifeblood of a growing company and many
family businesses will be considering new investments.
If you are opening new subsidiaries, taking on new staff,
planning an acquisition, upgrading your technology or
developing new products, you may need to consider

Ernst & Young’s Growth DNA of Family Businesses model highlights
the interlinked nature of the eight characteristics of successful
family businesses

Next-generation planning
Generational change in family businesses is a highly
complex process and often constitutes a balancing act
for everyone involved — family, company and owner. The
issues to resolve always have an emotional component in
addition to the practical, objective and technical aspects.
A
personal aims and values of the entrepreneur and family
members will always be a major consideration.

Succeeding for generations

93

Credits

Rothschild
Copyright: D.R, courtesy of Rothschild, AKG-images

Effective tax management
Tax has a big impact on a family company’s investment
decisions: its
competitiveness and growth. It is therefore vital to ensure
that you understand the tax implications of the business
and personal wealth decisions you make.

Ernst & Young is the world leader in advising, guiding and recognizing
entrepreneurs. We will work with you to preserve your life’s work
and develop it further for the next generation. Our services help you
deal successfully with the challenges of today’s marketplace, with its
multilayered uncertainties and opportunities. We will support you as you
go forward into the future.
We’ve got what it takes to help you to succeed for generations.

Ernst & Young (page 4)
Photography Courtesy
of Ernst & Young.
Article Mark Alexander

Bankhaus Spängler (page 7)
Photography Peter Rigaud/
Shotview. Shot on location in
Salzburg. Interview Rhea Wessel

Rothschild (page 15)
Photography Olivier Seignette,
courtesy of Rothschild. Interview
Agnes C. Poirier

Obeikan (page 21)
Photography Siddharth Siva. Shot
on location in the Bastakiya quarter
of Dubai. Interview Rob Morris

Future management structure
Family businesses revolve tightly around the current
owner — yet arranging a successor within the family may
not always be possible. For instance, your descendants
could lack the desire and the willingness to assume the
entrepreneurial risk, or they may not have the necessary
Contingency management, appointing non-family
executives and family charters all contribute to ensuring
your business succeeds for generations.
Culture and responsibility
Customers and employees alike are attracted by a longstanding family business commitment to sustainability,
whether it is an uncompromising commitment to use local
products or to source from renewable resources, or to
avoid using cheap labor. You may need to consider how
best to integrate ethics and values into your performance
strategy and align it with the achievement of company
goals with respect to growth, market positioning and

For further information, or to order any of our dedicated publications for family
businesses, please visit ey.com/familybusiness or contact Penny Cooper, Director,
, at pcooper2@uk.ey.com

Entrepreneur Of The Year

For more information, please visit ey.com/eoy

Succeeding for generations

Esteve (page 27)
Photography Lluis Artus. Shot
on location in Barcelona.
Interview Barnaby Eales

Oras Invest (page 31)
Photography Maja Flink.
Shot on location in Helsinki.
Interview Joanna Sinclair

Avantha (page 35)
Photography Sanjit Das/Panos
Pictures. Shot on location in Gurgaon,
Delhi. Interview Swati Prasad

De Agostini Group (page 41)
Photography Alex Majoli/Magnum
Photos. Shot on location in Milan.
Interview Heather O’Brian

Succeeding for generations was produced by Wardour
on behalf of Ernst & Young
For Ernst & Young
Penny Cooper, Marketing Director, SGM, EMEIA
Sandra Ward

Prym (page 47)
Photography Peter Rigaud/Shotview.
Shot on location in Stolberg in the
Rhineland. Interview Ulrike Minke

WICOR (page 53)
Photography Mathias Braschler and
Monika Fischer. Shot in Rapperswil,
Switzerland. Interview Renée Cordes

Barceló (page 61)
Photography Lluis Artus. Shot at the
Barceló Pueblo Park Hotel, Mallorca.
Interview Eric Lyman

Berry Bros. & Rudd (page 65)
Photography Harry Borden/Bonakdar
Cleary. Shot on location in London.
Interview Molly Bennett

where their strengths lie, explore their interests and give voice to their own needs for the future.
The Junior Academy is an exclusive one-week training event that combines knowledge
from international top-ranked executive business schools with practical experience from
Ernst & Young to create a particular offering for the next generation of entrepreneurs and
family business leaders.

Food and drink timeline
Yvan Travert / AKG-image, Corbis, image courtesy
of Cadbury, AKG-images, image courtesy of Arvid
Nordquist, image courtesy of McDonald’s, image
courtesy of Papadopoulos, image courtesy of Heinz,
Topfoto, Alamy.
Shipping timeline
Getty, Mary Evans Picture Library, Alamy, Corbis, image
courtesy of Van Oord, iStockphoto.

The Ernst & Young Junior Academy

For more information, please visit our dedicated website: ey-junioracademy.com

94

Automotive timeline
Alamy, Advertising Archives, Steam Carriage: English
School / Private Collection / Look and Learn /
Bridgeman, Getty, AKG-images, image courtesy of
Tata, image courtesy of Honda, Mary Evans Picture
Library, Corbis.

Every great business started out with one great idea — and an entrepreneurial talent who
envisioned something new and found a way to bring it to market.
We believe in the power of entrepreneurship and innovation, and commend those who
excel. Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world’s most prestigious business
award for entrepreneurs. It recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with
their vision, leadership and achievement, and celebrates those who are building and
leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses.

Cosmetics, fashion and luxury goods timeline
AKG-images / North Wind Picture Archive, Corbis,
AKG-images, Advertising Archives, Alamy, Getty,
Istockphoto, Christopher Anderson / Magnum Photos.
Media and publishing timeline
Alamy, Getty, Corbis, logo courtesy of Penguin Books,
Rex Features, De Agostini.

Balancing risk
The need to be able to react quickly to market
developments makes additional demands of family
be achieved through forward-looking risk management
combined with an effective control system that allows
you to keep your business out of trouble and improve
performance simultaneously.

Banking timeline
Genizah: Mosseri VII.189.1, the Jacques Mosseri
Genizah Collection at Cambridge University Library with
permission from the Syndics of Cambridge University
Library, Corbis, Alamy, AKG-images, HSBC: Courtesy of
HSBC Archives, Getty, iStockphoto.

For Wardour
Editor
Assistant Editor Ruth Ganthony
Senior Designer Angela Lyons
Picture Editor Johanna Ward
Design Director
Account Director Emma King
Production Gary Chambers
Production Director John Faulkner
Managing Director
CEO
Wardour, Walmar House, 296 Regent Street,
London W1B 3AW, United Kingdom.
Tel +44 (0)20 7016 2555 wardour.co.uk

Papadopoulos (page 73)
Photography Courtesy of
Papadopoulos.
Interview Lauren O’Hara

Arvid Nordquist (page 77)
Photography Mattias Rudh/Eyes
Productions. Shot on location in
Stockholm. Interview Jon Buscall

Van Oord (page 83)
Photography Peter Rigaud/Shotview.
Shot at the IHC Dredgers Shipyard,
Rotterdam. Interview Gary Rudland

GMR Group (page 89)
Image Sanjit Das/Panos Pictures.
Shot on location in Bangalore.
Interview Shoba Narayan

Succeeding for generations

95

Ernst & Young
Assurance | Tax | Transactions | Advisory
About Ernst & Young
Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory
services. Worldwide, our 141,000 people are united by our shared values
and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping
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Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not
provide services to clients. For more information about our organization,
please visit ey.com
© 2011 EYGM Limited. All Rights Reserved.
EYG no. CY0166
This publication contains information in summary form and is therefore
intended for general guidance only. It is not intended to be a substitute for
detailed research or the exercise of professional judgment. Neither EYGM
Limited nor any other member of the global Ernst & Young organization
can accept any responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or
refraining from action as a result of any material in this publication. On
The opinions of third parties set out in this publication are not necessarily
the opinions of the global Ernst & Young organization or its member
were expressed.
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Ernst & Young: we have what it takes to help you succeed for generations
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Succeeding for generations