Publiceret: 12.04.2018Af Karen Witt Olsen mail
According to Marianne Strauss, owner and CEO of Nordsjællands Metalstøberi A/S, when things are going well, it is important to have the courage to stand up and talk about what you are doing.
She points out that owner-managed businesses have immense social importance. They create value and they create jobs. Owner-managed businesses are simply the backbone of Danish industry – and that story needs to be told.
“That is what we have recently chosen to do. We produced a video with one of our partners. The video shows how we stand out by investing in sustainability. That film has really paid off. Both in terms of the local community and customers. They can see that we are continuously working to boost the business,” she says.
There are many owner-managed and family-owned businesses in Denmark. Across Denmark, three out of four of the Confederation of Danish Industry’s members state that they are either owner-managed or family-owned businesses.
According to the latest ownership survey published by the Confederation of Danish Industry, these businesses account for more than a third of the workforce employed by members of the Confederation of Danish Industry.
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Owner-managers have advantages that others find hard to match. They are able to respond quickly. Marianne Strauss’s story of Nordsjællands Metalstøberi is an example of this.
Her father and a few of his partners bought the bankrupt foundry in 1993. In 2005, when she was asked to take over as CEO, she realised immediately that intervention was required.
“When I joined, the foundry had 60 employees and a sickness absence of 25%. To get things under control, I had to make some quick decisions and decided to make half our employees redundant. But we succeeded in turning the business around. We did this by involving people and getting our processes under control. Today, sickness absence is half a percent,” she says.
According to Marianne Strauss, this example shows one of the strengths of owner-managed businesses. They are able to react with lightning speed – and they do not have to meet investor demands for quick returns.
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Today, Marianne Strauss is the CEO of a trimmed-back business. Nordsjællands Metalstøberi is Denmark’s largest aluminium sand casting foundry, and the foundry maintains profitable operations despite currently having surplus capacity.
She believes that although owner-managers have traditionally kept their cards close to their chest, they have every reason to be proud and outgoing.
“It is the small owner-managers who keep Denmark moving. They should have the courage to tell their story. I think this is something that many could become better at. Luckily, I am seeing that a new generation of owner-managers are coming on stream and I believe that they are more outgoing and less cautious than previous generations,” she says.
The CEO of Nordsjællands Metalstøberi is one of several owner-managers who told their story at the Confederation of Danish Industry’s conference on owner-managed and family-owned businesses on 12 April. Director at the Confederation of Danish Industry Kent Damsgaard explains that it is no coincidence that the Confederation of Danish Industry is again directing the spotlight at this group of businesses.
“Owner-managed and family-owned businesses play a huge role in Danish industry and contribute many local jobs. This type of business offers some very clear-cut advantages, but many are also struggling with challenges such as digitisation, labour and changes of ownership,” he says and adds:
“The Confederation of Danish Industry is the obvious place for them to come together and, as an organisation, we want to provide the very best framework to ensure that these company executives can meet to inspire and help each other. We also want to send a signal to politicians to tell them where they can best contribute to enhancing conditions for these businesses.
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When ownership and business merge
Owner-managed and family-owned businesses do not only account for many of Denmark’s small and medium-sized enterprises, but also count some of Denmark’s largest businesses among their number. Some businesses continue as family-owned entities generation after generation.
Others have been founded only recently and may not continue in family hands forever, but are instead in the longer term closed, sold or listed. Some of the businesses grow; others do not.
Join us to find out more about what is behind this trend.