Denmark-based VKR Group is best known for the window brand VELUX. It is also recognized for its strong sense of responsibility towards all stakeholders. All companies within the group operate according to the Model Company Objective, which was set up in 1965: The VKR Group works with products that are useful to society and strives to treat its stakeholders better than most other companies. In 2016, the group’s holding company joined the United Nations Global Compact, which encourages businesses to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies. In addition, the group funds a number of foundations that support a diverse range of charitable programs relating to science, the environment, society and culture.
Over the last 72 years, Nuevo Mundo has been leading the Peruvian textile sector with high levels of innovation, sustainability and service. But Nuevo Mundo not only excels in that vein. It is also part of the small 2% of Peruvian family businesses that transcend the third generation, despite the fact that 80% of businesses are family-owned in Peru. Nuevo Mundo continues under the leadership of Boris Schwartzman and his cousins, members of the third generation, who actively promote actions for the benefit of his company, his workers, and the country: leading different initiatives to foster education and training of the actors involved in the textile production chain and encouraging the purchase of Peruvian products in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Boris Schwartzman is a clear example that the challenge of doing business as a family in Peru is possible, playing a fundamental role in the development of the country.
2. Invest in innovation and technology
The world’s most successful family businesses are often relentlessly committed to innovation. Slovenia-based Intra lighting produces light fixtures that illuminate business premises, hotels, public buildings, shopping centers and event venues all over the world. To bring its products to market as quickly as possible, it has state-of-the-art in-house laboratories, as well as its own research and development department that researches and tests materials and construction techniques. Thanks to its investment in innovation, and its firm focus on detail, Intra’s modern light fittings are some of the most technologically advanced on the market and achieve high levels of energy efficiency.
Another committed innovator is Austria-based Greiner AG, one of the world’s leading suppliers of plastics and foam solutions. Its products are used to address everyday problems and include shelf life-extending food packaging, safe blood collection tubes, intelligent mattresses, lightweight aircraft and car seating, and plants for the production of high-quality plastic window frames. Over the coming years, Greiner plans to develop entirely new business ventures through the launch of Greiner INNOVENTURES, a corporate incubator to support innovations that are not directly related to the operational business, but which can offer existing customers added value.
3. Draw on the talents of the next generation
Annaleena Hakola is President and CEO of Hakola Furniture in Finland, which was founded by her grandfather in 1963. Together with her father, she has launched an online store to sell Hakola’s beautiful, but functional, products directly to customers. She is also able to draw on her design training by helping to develop Hakola’s collection, brand image and marketing. Annaleena, who has always had a passion for furniture, believes that her business can be a springboard for talented young designers to realize their dreams.
Agra is an innovative Norwegian brand group that has distinguished itself as a focused food and nutrition group with strong brand names in all the Scandinavian countries. Many of the products originate from local traditional family businesses and brand names, and through emphasis on innovation and customer focus in product development have been further developed in line with future requirements. The family exercises active ownership and in recent years has carried out a successful leadership change to the 5th generation, where the current CEO Knut K. Heje appears forward-thinking with a valuable external career and education in addition to valuable experience from the family business operational business. Outstanding is Agra’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and philanthropy, including the Group's emphasis on the UN Sustainable Development Goals in its strategic initiatives.
4. Protect the environment
Switzerland-based Firmenich is the world’s largest privately-owned fragrance and flavor company. It is also an environmental leader that has committed to being carbon neutral by 2025. In February 2020, it became the first company in its industry to power all of its global operations with 100% renewable electricity. Furthermore, it has embedded the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals throughout its business and is “committed to science-based targets and measurable, independently-verified action to achieve these ambitious goals”. Firmenich is developing sustainable fragrances and flavors by expanding its palette of biodegradable and renewable ingredients. It is also a founding member of the One Planet Business for Biodiversity Coalition, which aims to protect biodiversity and encourage regenerative agriculture.
5. Bring in external expertise
To go from strength to strength, family businesses may need to bring in external expertise to complement the skills and experience of those family members who are involved in the enterprise. Belgium’s Cartamundi is the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of board games and playing cards. While it has been lovingly built up by two separate families – with each owning 50% of the shares in the company – the families have consciously chosen for it to be run by professional chief executives and managers, who are not family members.
6. Have a passion for what they do.
Décio Da Silva fell in love with Brazilian electronic equipment manufacturer WEG after getting to know the company’s technology and industrial process during his youth. During his 18-year-stint as president of WEG, he focused on ensuring that the business retained the spirit and culture of its three founders, Werner Ricardo Voight, Eggon João da Silva and Geraldo Werninghaus, including his father, and pursued internationalization. Such is his passion for the company that he still chairs its board today.
7. Live their purpose
Romanian food company Șerban Holding Group has a clear mission. It wants “to offer partners quality products and services, to create an environment where employees can make the most of their potential, and to develop a reliable brand for Romania and beyond”. So, in its bakery, it produces cakes and pies for “unforgettable moments” and continuously invests in innovative technologies. It also owns a chain of grocery stores that aim to create a “warm and familiar” environment for customers. In its poultry farming operations, it pays special attention to environmental conservation, animal welfare, food safety and sustainable development.
South Korean-based conglomerate Hwaseung Group is another family enterprise with a big mission. In fact, its mission is so big there are four parts to it. It wants to keep innovating in ways that deliver value to its customers, it wants all its customers to become repeat customers, it wants to provide top-quality products and services that exceed its customers’ expectations, and it wants to help create a better future by satisfying all its stakeholders.