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”A family business owner risks a lot. Money, assets – and a name ”

we have invested in. There is a motto in our family, that the only tradition worth keeping is moving from the old to what is about to come. This is something we live by and something we work with. It’s all about innovation, about pushing forward and never sitting still, trying to go that extra mile to not only find new stuff but also stay competitive. This is one of the reasons why we’ve started an innovation lab within the bank.” Handing things down generation to generation is not considered very innovative or creative. In an ever more competitive global market, what advantages does a family business give you, Antonia? “A lot of people think that the history of a family business makes them old fashioned, that you get stuck with old thinking. But in family businesses there is an owner with faith, because as a family business owner you risk a lot. Not only money and assets but a family name. Our motto is 10:50 – every ten years, 50 percent of our businesses are new. We’ve gone from shipping and steel trade into retailing and wholesale. I have a tremendously deep commitment to constantly protect, build, rebuild, change and challenge our business.”

In this day and age, it’s unique to have these long-term perspectives. Many startups have founders that are very exit focused. So what would you advice young entrepreneurs, Marcus? “It’s a very difficult question. Young people who are entrepreneurs move the new world; they are active people trying to achieve something. It’s extremely important, and it’s up to you if you want to be a seller or a builder of what you create. From our family business point of view, we focus on building but it doesn’t mean we never sell. Of course we do. A holding company that the family used to work through was the biggest coal trader in the 1920s, I’m sure happy we’re out of that! It’s fun to build, but you have to dare to move along and see the new opportunities that present themselves from time to time.”

”The only tradition worth keeping is moving from the old to what is about to come ”

And what would you advice, Antonia? “There is nothing more exciting than building companies. Stick with your company a little longer than you had planned to. It’s great to have companies take off, you get very excited, you reach a plateau, and you wonder whether it is going to be that exciting again. And from my perspective with almost 40 years in a business I can tell you; yes, it’s going to keep getting exciting as you change and challenge, build and rebuild, and re-challenge yourself.”

2017 edition of Symposium magazine  
2017 edition of Symposium magazine