How to Set the Foundations for B Grimm’s Next 135 years; B Grimm was established in 1878 and now is one of the oldest corporate citizens in Thailand.

Ways to sustain family business

Kwanchai Rungfapaisarn
The Nation May 25, 2013 1:00 am

Academic offers advice at workshop on B Grimm

In the era of globalisation, family-owned businesses are facing major challenges to ensure long-term sustainability. Christine Blondel, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and family enterprise at the global business school INSEAD, said family businesses had some specific strengths and weaknesses. She said the major problems in such ventures were caused by family fights that flared up because they had no clear rules of the game. These internal battles occur because some family members work for the business while some do not, and they have not communicated enough. They do not understand enough what is going on in the business. Another risk occurs when family members lose the entrepreneurial spirit that made their business a success. One of the most important points is that they have to ensure that this spirit is kept alive from generation to generation. Blondel this week held a workshop titled “How to Set the Foundations for B Grimm’s Next 135 years” for the management and executives of that family-owned business, which was established in 1878 and now is one of the oldest corporate citizens in Thailand. Owned by the third generation of the Link family – Harald Link, chairman of B Grimm, and Caroline Link, president of B Grimm Real Estate – it is a multifaceted business active in the fields of energy, cooling, healthcare, lifestyle, transport and real estate.France-based INSEAD is one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, with campuses in Singapore, France and Abu Dhabi.
“One of the problems faced by family members is that they have forgotten to look at the competency of the business. Many members are in a position that is not good for them and their career is not properly managed. 
“Many family-owned businesses failed as they lacked good communication between family owners and managers,” Blondel said.
On the other hand, she said, the strength of family ownership is that the principals have a long-term view and commitment to the business’ sustainability and attachment to people. 
“A family business is a sustainable form of business, and that is why we believe we should support them at INSEAD. First of all, you have a family that owns the business and transmits from generation to generation commitment to the long term. You can witness much higher commitment to the long term. You can see value being transmitted from generation to generation within the business, and also commitment to the people, to their employees that make [up the] family business. Family business members have also managed their own money with a sense of responsibility.”
Blondel said that to ensure sustainability of the family business in the long term, the owners first of all had to make sure it was not too dependent on them, that it could be run through a board of directors consisting not only of the owning family but also outsiders. It is also must be able to sustain itself with a good level of management at every level. 
Family owners must be open and put a high focus on communicating within the family about the future, succession, and the respective role that each person can play, whether he or she will be an owner, a manager, or just support the family unity. They should have rules within the family on what will happen if someone wants to join the business and what will happen if someone want to sell some shares. Without such rules, it will be difficult to make decisions when the circumstance require them.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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