FB in times of crisis: Gimnasio Fontana, Colombia

September 25, 2020

As part of the IFERA series on “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are pleased to share with you the interview of María Piedad López-Vergara, Assistant Professor and Director of INALDE Family Business Research Center at INALDE Business School, Colombia, with Natalia Zuleta, second generation member and Marketing and Innovation Director of Gimnasio Fontana  ENGLISH AND SPANISH LANGUAGE Gimnasio Fontana is a private school in Bogotá, Colombia. It has been thirty-six years in the educational market in which it is known for having developed its own pedagogical model. It was founded by two educators, Amparo Triana and Dario Zuleta who actually perform leadership positions in the school together with their daughters Catalina and Natalia. The school has managed to consolidate a learning system based upon three main pillars: creativity, sustainability, and happiness known as “What if?Ò Creative thinking” and it has been recently awarded as “Great Place to Study in Latin America”. Gimnasio Fontana is also renowned for its unique campus and premises designed by one of the most awarded Colombian arquitect and it is listed as cultural heritage of Colombia. The school is the first neutral carbon accredited institution in Colombia as well as a pioneer in implementing circular economy. Currently the second generation is working on the implementation of What if?Ò as a learning system outside the school aiming for the public and private educational sector.  The school is accredited by Council of International Schools.  The COVID-19 pandemic had a ripple effect on the world economies and societies. How have the family and the business been particularly impacted? Gimnasio Fontana has faced many challenges in this new context.  I think that we have discovered new ways of doing things. In a certain way we were already going through an innovation process for our last grades in order to offer a more flexible curriculum that fostered entrepreneurship and that is more connected with our seniors’ interests in the fields of creativity and sustainability. This particular reality of Covid 19 has accelerated the process. At the same time, we had to reorganize teams, strengthen technological platforms and be more conscious of the teachers’ role as facilitators.  Financially, it has also been very challenging because many families have lost their jobs, and this had an impact on fees’ payment collection. We have reviewed our financial and investment strategy for the next years, as education will suffer radical transformations due to radical societal developments and a change of focus and priorities is required. In regard to our family, I think that this situation has been a great opportunity to highlight and put into practice our values such as unity, creativity, perseverance and love. Uncertainty has allowed us to recognize that these values are our real foundations and that we are able to put them into practice in challenging moments. Having worked on our compass, defining our mission and vision as a business family, has facilitated the decision-making processes thanks to a more strategic vision.  How did these changes translate into initiatives (or strategies)?  We have structured our pedagogical model in a more systemic and rigorous way. We have also worked on […]

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FB in Times of Crisis: Jacto Group, Brazil

August 28, 2020

As part of the IFERA series on “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are pleased to share with you the interview of Rania Labaki, associate professor and director of EDHEC Family Business Centre, with Alessandra Nishimura, third generation member of the shareholders council and head of family governance of Jacto Group. With a history that started in 1948 in Brazil, Jacto is currently present in more than 100 countries. Its activities cover logistics, health care, industrial cleaning, polymer processing, manufacturing high-technology agricultural equipment and machinery, portable manual and battery-operated equipment, and innovative solutions for precision agriculture.   The COVID-19 pandemic had a ripple effect on the world economies and societies. How has the family business been particularly impacted? In Brazil, our businesses have first shot down in March for around two weeks. As we operate in the “essentials” industries, such as food, logistics and health, our businesses re-opened while facing the challenge of ensuring safety conditions for our employees. We operate in different States in Brazil and in other countries such as Argentina and Thailand and we have commercial offices in the US and Mexico. So, when the Covid-19 hit we had to think both locally and globally. We had to adapt the measures depending on the evolution of the pandemic in each location. At the same time, while we know of some industries hugely impacted by the crisis, our health and Agri businesses were impacted to a lesser extent and in some cases flourished with an increasing demand. So, our focus was really to decrease the impact of the crisis as much as possible on our employees. In addition, a past economic crisis taught us the advantages of being debt-free: “We don’t take money to grow; we grow with what we have”. This certainly makes it easier for us to go through the current crisis. On the family side, we have also learned about the importance of a united family. This crisis reiterated that and had a positive impact on the frequency and quality of interactions among and across generations. How did these changes translate into initiatives or strategies? Dealing with the unknown is the hardest thing. Usually, we take decisions based on information that is reliable. We first investigated how companies in other countries were handling the crisis. As shareholders, we have put together a crisis committee that met on a weekly basis, then bi-monthly. Our priority was to provide support to employees and to ensure their safety rather than the continuity of the activities. We started even to consider these questions prior to the lockdown. During the two weeks in lockdown, we created many videos and manual guides and banners for the factories to share information that we trust. These included explanations on the steps to follow starting from the time the employee leaves home until reaching the workplace and the behaviors to follow at work. All the material was translated in the country’s language and disseminated through our social media platforms. We also did polls to check whether our employees would feel safe to come to work, by measuring their emotional level. If they were […]

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FB in times of crisis: EKKI Group, India

August 11, 2020

As part of the IFERA series on “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are pleased to share with you the interview of Rania Labaki, Associate Professor and Director of the EDHEC Family Business Centre, with Kanishka Arumugam, co-CEO of EKKI Pumps, Deccan Pumps Pvt Ltd, and second generation member of EKKI Group. With a humble start four decades ago, a few members of the Arumugam family, themselves agriculturists, manufactured Agri pumps that virtually boosted the green revolution in India. Today, the family business stands as one of India’s leading providers of advanced pump and water technologies for agricultural, building services, industrial and public utilities markets, and has a global presence in more than 20 countries.   The COVID-19 pandemic had a ripple effect on the world economies and societies. How has the family business been particularly impacted ? When the government imposed the lock-down last March, people in India were clearly not prepared for the scale of the shutdown. Many of them do not live close to their workplace and could not move back to their hometowns given the short notice. They mostly rely on daily or weekly wages for their living, which went missing overnight, creating subsistence issues. Although our factories had to shut down, our primary focus was our employees for whom we particularly care. We provided accommodation and food while continuing to pay salaries. As part of the culture and the specificity of the healthcare system in India, people tend to save money for difficult times, making them withstand for a little while. The government lifted the lock-down in April with restrictions as the survival of the population and economy was at stake. Our factories started to operate again while taking all necessary safety measures. Still, activities were impacted due to disruptions in the supply chain, but we had a sound bottom line with a debt-free balance sheet. Our conservative financing strategy allowed us to deal with the situation more serenely. On the family side, my parents moved back to our family farm. Interestingly, I was happy to see my father finally taking his first break since he started the business in 1981.   How did these changes translate into initiatives or strategies? This crisis allowed us to engage in new strategic directions, to accelerate the implementation of existing ones and to optimize our organizational structure. First, we took the last few months to think and pivot further our business model towards a sustainable water technology company. Fresh water is the basis of life on our planet, a basic human right, a critical factor in the health of our global environment, and a vital part of the business operations in a wide range of industries. But this resource is fragile and prone to crises. According to the United Nations, 4 billion people—more than half of the world’s population—suffer from water scarcity every year. The diversity of freshwater species has declined more than 80% since 1970. And in 2018, businesses worldwide reported $38.5 billion in financial losses related to water scarcity or pollution. In India, we have significant water pollution issues and around 10% of electricity is […]

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FB in Times of Crisis: Groupe Simone Pérèle, France

August 4, 2020

As part of the IFERA series on “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are pleased to share with you the interview of Rania Labaki, Associate Professor and Director of the EDHEC Family Business Centre, with Mathieu Grodner, third generation member and CEO of Groupe Simone Pérèle. His grandmother, a pioneer and visionary, started her first atelier in Paris back in 1948. Today, Simone Pérèle is an international group that designs and manufactures apparel and fine lingerie serving customers worldwide.  The COVID-19 pandemic had a ripple effect on the world economies and societies. How have the family and the business been particularly impacted? Our businesses stopped operating as soon as the lock-down was promulgated. That was unprecedented. Our businesses were not prepared for such a violent cease of activities. Our employees showed an exemplary behavior though as they adapted fast to the situation and were committed in line with the interests of the business, in a context where their personal situation was somehow complicated. The business carries strong values with meaning, such as sustainability, authenticity and respect; all rooted in our history back to the founder, my grandmother. Those values represent our DNA and are the pillars to which employees can relate in times of crisis. There are of course some differences among people in the pace of adaptation depending on the generation they belong to, but overall, the adaptation to the crisis was natural. This crisis could also be a test for any family in business. What appeared clearly in our case is that we could count on a strong family cohesion. Our unity was not only a facade but a socle with strong foundations. The education and governance work we have done over generations has paid-off. How did these changes translate into initiatives (or strategies)? Our main priority has been to ensure the safety of our teams. Depending on the nature of their work, the employees were either allowed to work from home or had to work part time to accommodate the new situation. As we operate in different countries, we had to manage these adjustments while accounting for the different stages of the pandemic and the confinement restrictions. Our other priority has been to ensure the financial health of the company. Given that the production activity and our shops were shut down, we wanted to avoid cash-flows difficulties. The family business is 100% owned by family shareholders who are very committed to the Simone Pérèle project and its sustainability. They renewed their commitment and their trust by providing exceptional financial support during this period. Our communications became more regular in order to reassure and inform them about the strategic challenges we were encountering. We also relied on the support of our other partners and used the state-guaranteed loans that the French government has encouraged to help businesses during the pandemic. Family businesses are known for their values of social responsibility, acting as ambassadors of the territories in which they are rooted. How did these manifest themselves in your country? Simone Pérèle is a French or even a Parisian company with a close relationship with its territory. That […]

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Family Business Research Meets Practice in Latin America

July 24, 2020

Research in any field pursues the advancement of scientific knowledge. While rigorous scientific discovery is an achievement itself, many researchers also pursue to produce findings relevant to improve practice. Other researchers and practitioners also work for developing practical uses of existing research. These webinars aim to create and to develop a collaborative space where research and practice can meet to discuss and to develop rigorous and relevant knowledge for the advancement of family firms. This cycle of webinars will be conducted in Spanish language and expects to bring insightful exchange of knowledge and practice between family business researchers and practitioners with a special interest in Latin America. Every webinar has a distinct topic and different panellists and is organized by members of the IFERA Latam Committee.   The importance of narratives and storytelling in family businesses from Latin America. Family businesses are heterogeneous by definition especially because of the specific features of family influence. If we add to this component the structural heterogeneity of the region, we find a rich diversity in traditions, rites and culture that is reflected in its stories and narratives.  This webinar will feature IFERA Latam Committee members Allan Discua Cruz and Claudio G. Müller, exploring different techniques to collect, compile, teach and communicate the rich diversity of the family business in Latin America. Additionally, the webinar will have the participation of Javier Macías and Ernesto G. Niethardt, family business consultants who will share their experience on the topic as well. Narrativas, historias y casos en las empresas familiares de Latinoamérica. Las empresas familiares son heterogéneas por definición especialmente por los rasgos específicos de la influencia familiar. Si a esta componente le sumamos la heterogeneidad estructural de la región encontramos una diversidad rica en tradiciones, ritos y cultura que se refleja en sus historias y narrativas. Este webinar reunirá a miembros del comité de IFERA Latam, Allan Discua Cruz y Claudio G. Müller, quienes exploraremos distintas técnicas para recoger, compilar, enseñar y comunicar la rica diversidad de la empresa familiar en Latinoamérica. Además, el webinar contará con la participación de Javier Macías y Ernesto G. Niethardt, consultores de empresas familiares que también compartirán su experiencia sobre el tema.  Watch the webinar: SLIDES:   Oradores  Allan Discua Cruz Dr. Allan Discua Cruz es profesor titular del Departamento de Emprendimiento y Estrategia de la Escuela de Administración de la Universidad de Lancaster (LUMS). Es el actual director de la Maestría en Negocios Internacionales y Estrategia y codirector del programa de Emprendedores en Residencia en LUMS. También es miembro de una cuarta generación de una empresa familiar y miembro fundador del Center for Family Business en LUMS. Su carrera profesional la desarrolló en el sector público y privado. Su investigación se ha publicado en revistas como Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Journal of Business Ethics, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, International Small Business Journal, Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Journal of Family Business Strategy y Business History, así como en libros y recopilaciones de profesionales.  Claudio G. Müller Profesor en la Facultad de Negocios y Economía de la Universidad de Chile. Ha asesorado a muchas empresas en diferentes países de América […]

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FB in times of crisis: Fernand Hosri Group, Lebanon

July 23, 2020

As part of the IFERA series on “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are pleased to share with you the interview of Rania Labaki, Associate Professor and Director of the EDHEC Family Business Centre, with Riccardo Hosri, board member of Fernand Hosri Group in Lebanon. With entrepreneurial roots dating back to the 1880s, the family embodies the experience of 5 generations in business. Fernand Hosri Group covers different sectors including Security and Telecommunications, Building Automation & Communication, Renewable Energy, FMCG, Office Supplies and Equipment, Distribution, Publishing and Editing, Insurance, Hotels, Restaurants and Property management. The Group operates in the local markets of Lebanon, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and France and caters for 26 countries in the Middle East and Africa.   The COVID-19 pandemic had a ripple effect on the world economies and societies. Lebanon, in particular, was already experiencing political, economic and social crises prior to Covid-19. How has your family business been particularly impacted? The impact was terrible on our family business. Back in the second quarter of last year, the economic crisis in Lebanon escalated, gradually leading to the current monetary collapse and capital control enforcements of the banking system. Since March 2020, the Covid-19 just topped the other crises. All this makes it very difficult for any business to adapt and survive. The unemployment rate is unprecedented, reaching around 60%. Today, we live on a day-to-day basis and in a total survival mode. Generally speaking, the health crisis is well-contained in Lebanon but the economic system is a disaster. We have been going through the different phases of the confinement and deconfinement with businesses gradually re-opening with strict measures. We suffered like other companies in Lebanon, but perhaps more as a family business. We were struggling with the dilemma of taking reasonable business decisions while considering the emotional attachment to our businesses and our employees who are our second family. We are a family with very strong bonds, clearly shared values, and formed of complementary characters. This can have its pros and cons. On the pros side, we can blindly rely on each other. On the cons side, we are sometimes slower in decision-making as we are all equally invested and have opinions that might sometimes differ. Still, reassuringly, we are all challengers, long-term aligned, and very determined, which is usually a winning combination…  How did these changes translate into initiatives or strategies? Because of “the family factor”, the salaries of our employees have not been impacted from October 2019 to April 2020, despite the crisis and limited access to work. Unlike other countries, we did not have a stimulus package or any kind of tax or financial incentive in Lebanon. After April, we had to adapt, so we reduced the working hours and maintained a bottom line with a minimum wage. We also adapted the work format by allowing employees, whenever possible, to work from home and organize conference calls while maintaining a 20% presence in offices. Our sales and distribution staff could obviously not perform from home. We mainly initiated changes in our business models and systems by innovating and reinventing ourselves, tackling new […]

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FB in times of crisis: Association Familiale Mulliez, France

July 17, 2020

As part of the IFERA series on “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are pleased to share with you insights from Association Familiale Mulliez (AFM) by Rania Labaki, Associate Professor and Director of the EDHEC Family Business Centre, based on a public speech (*) of the AFM president Barthélémy Ghislain and an interview of the family shareholder Camille Poutiers. The Association Familiale Mulliez is a federation of autonomous enterprises, such as Auchan, Decathlon and Leroy Merlin, operating in different sectors and controlled by nearly 1000 family members between the 4th and 6th generation. The family inspires meaning in its enterprises with a long-term perspective through its motto “We are useful in undertaking by and for Man” (**) and its 2035 vision “Creating for people”. The COVID-19 pandemic had a ripple effect on the world economies and societies. How have the family and the business been particularly impacted? Our businesses represent a good panorama of commerce around the world. They are plural, spread over many domains and are present in global territories. Our activity was penalized to different degrees by the crisis, depending on the type of business. The catering business was, for example, stopped during the lockdown, whereas the food or more specialized businesses continued to operate in compliance with safety conditions. The family retirement homes for the elderly were the hardest hit given the raise of absenteeism and residents’ health concerns. Our family was able to show solidarity in these difficult times. We have experienced difficult times in the past which have become times of prosperity. With several generations represented, our family has combined almost 50 years of history which have taught us how to weather crises. We also all believe in “the project of meaning” that we have. How did these changes translate into initiatives (or strategies)? We have relied on our modes of governance by adapting our operating methods. We have created mixed groups among companies to reflect on the different daily problems and create synergy while inspiring each other. Regarding family members, internal communication has also been strengthened, by setting milestones and regularly sharing key elements to reassure and inform in complete transparency. At the start of the confinement, the next generation members have volunteered to help by providing support to our businesses, in particular the food drives, helping to relieve the important flow in the preparation of orders. There have also been incredible outbursts of solidarity within our companies which have been largely initiated by the collaborators themselves rather than upon the request of the family shareholders. It is somehow a manifestation of the relationship we have with them and the values that the family has conveyed in these businesses. For instance, Decathlon adapted its entire production of snorkeling diving masks to equip hospitals around the world with a low-cost lifesaving respirator. Boulanger donated electronic tablets to the “residential accommodations for dependent elderly” (EHPAD, for its French acronym) so that the elderly residents can see and interact with their families. Our catering companies, such as Salad & co and Bistrot Madame, distributed meals in hospitals while Kiabi distributed clothing kits for the newborns. Auchan […]

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United States

July 8, 2020

This webinar is dedicated to the sharing and discussion of findings and best practices from the COVID 19 Survey with United States based Family Businesses and Researchers . DATE:Coming soon TIME: Coming soon REGISTRATIONS: Coming soon Event Chair: Claudia Binz Astrachan  

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Latin America

July 8, 2020

This webinar is dedicated to the sharing and discussion of findings and best practices from the COVID 19 Survey with Latin America based Family Businesses and Researchers (in Spanish). DATE: July 23, 2020 TIME: 11.00  Buenos Aires Time REGISTRATIONS: https://www.iae.edu.ar/es/LaEscuela/Eventos/Paginas/PYMESEmpresasFamiliaresNavegandolaCrisis.aspx Event Chair: Pedro Vazquez & Isabel Botero (PVazquez@iae.edu.ar ) HAVE YOU MISSED THIS WEBINAR? Watch it now at: https://www.iae.edu.ar/es/LaEscuela/IAEHoy/Paginas/Empresas-Familiares-Navegando-la-Crisis.aspx  

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Germany/Switzerland/Austria

July 7, 2020

Im Rahmen des deutschsprachigen Webinars besprechen wir einführend kurz die wichtigsten Erkenntnisse aus der globalen Umfrage, und insbesondere die effektivsten Massnahmen zum Umgang mit der Krise sowohl im Unternehmen als auch auf Ebene der Familie. Anschliessend freuen wir uns, Eduard R. Dörrenberg begrüssen zu dürfen, den geschäftsführenden Gesellschafter der Dr. Wolff Gruppe, und Urenkel des Gründers. Sein Kurzreferat trägt den Titel “Morgens Krise, Nachmittags Chance: In fünf Tagen von der Idee zur Produkteinführung” und zeigt auf, wie das Unternehmen in nur fünf Tagen ein neues Produkt names Linolasept (ein Handdesinfektionsgel) entwickelt und produziert hat. DATE: July 30, 2020 TIME: 17:00-19:30 Uhr REGISTRATIONS: https://events.wifu.de/?ic=15027-test Event Chairs: Tom Ruesen & Claudia Binz Astrachan (claudia.astrachan@hslu.ch )   Erkenntnisse aus der Forschungsstudie: Vorbereitungsgespräch zum Webinar:

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