ASCEF Holds its General Partners Meeting: “Let’s Talk about the Family Business, a Value that Grows

On June 15th, ASCEF held its annual general partners meeting, one of the most expected events of our association agenda. As usual, the encounter offered a space for reflection and entertainment, as well as institutional discussion. We appreciate EY’s collaboration and support.

The event was held at such a privileged and special venue as La Pedrera, and we took the opportunity to start with a private tour through this building so spectacular and magical.

Later, we held the General Partners Meeting, where, among other matters, the ASCEF’s Ethical Code and the succession for the Young Forum were approved . Ariadna Sendra an Albert Borràs are taking over for Ricard Oller as the Forum’s co-chairmen. We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Ricard Oller for his great work and dedication as chairman.

After the meeting was over, the open session of the event started with Jaume Alsina’s, ASCEF President, intervention, who welcomed all the attendees and presented the association’s corporate video, which intends to convey the reason to exist of family companies using two “magic” words, commitment and legacy. In his address, Jaume Alsina reviewed the current situation of uncertainty, which calls for a redefinition of the “global market” concept, and how in this new scenario, the family companies should constitute a leverage of progress and positive influence: “As entrepreneur families, we want to responsibly contribute to a better world. This is why we should keep dreaming, overcoming challenges, with the firm will to advance in the creation of a more egalitarian and equitable society.

Next, Joan Tubau, responsible partner from EY Cataluña’s Assurance, had some words for the attendees highlighting the strong tradition of the Catalonian family business, being an important entrepreneurship driver, and shared the idea that a company is a lot more than just a business, it is also a legacy for the future.

Discussion panel “Companies with history: Past, present and future”
The word and concept of “legacy”, very present in all encounters, was also the focus of the discussion “Companies with History: Past, Present and Future”, with the participation of Rosa Tous, Tous’s Vicepresident, Joaquim Uriach, Grupo J. Uriach’s CEO, and President of the Family Counsel, which was excellently moderated by José Luis Blanco, Chief Executive Director of the Family Business Institute.

Following the script line marked by the title of the discussion, both speakers went over the origin of their companies. Grupo J. Uriach, which is going through its fifth generation, was founded in 1838 when a rebel left the family mill to work for a drugstore in Born, Barcelona. Over time, he bought that drugstore and 180 years later, the company was founded and continues to operate in the health industry. Rosa Tous, a third-generation member, explained that the company was born in 1930 when his grandfather started a small clockwork shop in Manresa, and her grandmother started selling chains and jewelry. The following generation took that big leap from workshop to the company we all know today.

In this line, José Luis Blanco reminded that family companies are not created as multinational corporations but instead step by step, growing and going through transformations. “Continuity is evolution, we must always redefine what we do”, he said. Joaquim Uriach explained that the key for Grupo Uriach’s evolution has been that each generation has contributed with a vision different than the previous one, a new idea, an innovation that the other generations respect: “The companies that survive are those with a dynamic mindset, which lend their lines of business as we have done, always within the health industry”, he explained. Rosa Tous also explained that it was her parents, while travelling and going to fairs, who sensed a change in taste of the women who approached their workshop-kiosk and realized that if they were unable to offer what the female customers sought, they would have to design and manufacture it themselves. This was how the little bear was born and how the journey of a traditional and conventional jeweler started to eventually become the international company Tous is nowadays.
The round table discussion also stressed the importance of the family business internal evolution and that of their governing bodies. They underlined the role of the boards of advisors which bring the knowledge and professionalism of external advisors to the company or, in Tous’ case, even the incorporation of external partners.

To wrap up the discussion with a vision of the future, the speakers concurred in the disposition of their respective companies to keep growing with an eye on the market and the customer, “with vision and ambition”, as expressed by Joaquim Uriach.
ASCEF’s President, Jaume Alsina, concluded the event thanking all the participants for their assistance and reminding that, despite all, the best is yet to come.