As part of the 25th anniversary of the Catalan Association of Family-Owned Businesses (ASCEF), the Cercle d'Economia and the ASCEF have organized, together with the collaboration of BBVA, the third edition of "Family-owned businesses: Past, present,... and future?". This session was focused on the trajectory of notable family-run businesses from widely different sectors but with the common link that they had all managed to include members of the more recent family generations into company management.
Jaume Guardiola, the president of the Cercle d'Economia, started off the event by announcing that a roundtable discussion on European family-owned businesses will take place at the 2024 Cercle d'Economia Meeting.
The president of the ASCEF, Jaume Alsina, explained that one of the great challenges of family-owned businesses is "to try to excel to be benchmarks and relevant in the respective sectors", as well as "to work on family harmony so that each entrepreneurial family can define, update and adapt their shared dream".
Next, the regional director of business and corporate banking at BBVA in Catalonia, Francisco Pla, recalled that "we always try to guide companies, including family-owned ones, to ensure that their growth is as inclusive and sustainable as possible".
The president of the Puig Family Council and the Puig Foundation, Xavier Puig, and the president and CEO of Moventia, Miquel Martí, also took part in the session, which featured more than 230 attendees. The session was moderated by the former general secretary of the Cercle d'Economia and the president of Transmmission, Xavier Cambra.
Xavier Puig stressed that "you have to take care of both the family as well as the business". He went on to say that "no two companies or two families are the same and that is why each one has to find its own framework". Puig explained that his family's company was started by his grandfather in 1914 and "he had the wisdom to leave the management to his sons, who were more educated than him". According to Puig, "the key is that they were obsessed with professionalizing the management of the business, creating a holding company with a board of directors with independent members at the end of the nineteen eighties". Xavier Puig added that they also established the first family council with outside consulting, in which members of the third generation of the family also began to participate. In addition, each of them created a holding company, each of which was in turn a shareholder in the original holding company. Puig explained that, at the beginning of 2000, a committee was created from among the third-generation family members. Over the course of two years the committee designed the company's managing structure and family values, highlighting that "we consider the heritage we have received a legacy that we must take care of and develop and that, to the extent possible, we want to contribute as much as possible to society”. The president of the Puig Family Council and the Puig Foundation highlighted that "only those who are my grandfather's descendants can be members of the family at the business level" and he stressed that "on the boards of the operating companies there are more external members than family members".
Xavier Puig stated that "the most important thing is to be rather generous, which is the key to continuing 110 years later". He also added that "now we have the challenge of transferring the company to the fourth generation, which is more complicated".
The president and CEO of Moventia, Miquel Martí, explained that "the company was founded in 1923 by my grandfather, who bought the first bus in Sabadell and who drove it himself". Martí added that "one of the company's biggest milestones took place in 1984 when we merged with the company that was next door, which had prevented both companies from growing. That is how the Sarbús group began, with significant organic and inorganic growth until the year 2004, when our partner decided to sell his stake and we bought it".
Martí commented that in 2006 they began to write the family guidelines, which "after two years of negotiations, established the rules of the game that we wanted to have as a company and family". Miquel Martí explained that the guidelines "determined the shares belonging to each branch of the family, how new generations could be incorporated, the requirements for the following generations to enter the company, the executive bodies of the company, the maximum number of people in the family who could work in the company, as well as the retirement rules". The president and CEO of Moventia admitted that "the pending issue is to get the newer generations more involved", although he pointed out that "our family-run business is very sound". He also stated that "the family holds the positions of president, corporate vice-president and CEOs, but below these positions, the 22 general managers are held by outside professionals". Martí commented that "our company has to grow in line with the family, and one of the mechanisms to do so is by issuing dividends which gives a sense of belonging".