IT IS known worldwide that family businesses face the challenge of lasting beyond the the third generation. But if businesses plan the right way to transition early on, problems can be avoided.
For entrepreneur Bunny Pages, local businesses can overcome such a challenge. He hopes to share what his company Pages Holdings Inc. has learned by co-organizing a seminar with the Ateneo de Manila University’s Family Business Development Center.
Pages said only three out of a hundred family businesses survive until the third generation but it can overcome the usual challenges if transition is planned properly.
The seminar aims to make participants understand the family system and learn important components for the healthy growth of a family business.
It also aims to make the participants understand the basic structures of family governance, how this can be structured in a family constitution and establish a family council, board of directors and effectively conduct meetings with family members.
Pages said he has worked with the university and feels it has helped their company work on its constitution. By bringing the university’s experts, he hopes to share what they have learned with Cebu businesses currently being run by families.
The speakers include Ricardo Hizon Mercado, director of the Ateneo Family Business Development Center of the John Gokongwei School of Management, and Pilar Unidad-Tolentino, cluster head of the Family Business Relationship Department of the Ateneo Family Business Development Center. Mercado, he said, has worked with about 50 families helping them to craft their constitution.
Pages is encouraging the whole family to attend, rather than just a few members, saying it is the whole family that needs to get together and learn what the speakers have to share.
For Pages, one of the biggest problems family businesses face is relationships. He said all the members need to know how to resolve their conflicts.
He said that even if not all the children are interested to be part of the business, they can still be part of it. “A stockholder need not be an employee of the company,” Pages said.
In their business, Pages said he considers their situation unique because they all went into business together. Although it started with PlayHouse, the company now has 11 ventures under their belt, including a school, daycare centers, restaurants and fruit beverage stalls. They recently opened a Japanese restaurant in Banilad and are developing another concept–an American diner type of restaurant. They are also working out a joint venture with a known lechon supplier.
Although he is the chairman and chief executive officer, Pages considers all of his children first generation as well because they all contribute to the business. “We’re all close. We all get together regularly, spend time and discuss business,” he told reporters.
Pages noted that many organizations have realized the importance of planning for the future because most of the large corporations today started out as small family ventures. He said there is now more focus on family businesses because the statistics show most of these have difficulty surviving the next generations.
He hopes local businesses will see the opportunity to attend the seminar, saying Cebuanos can attend at a much cheaper rate. The seminar, which will be on Nov. 7 at the Casino Español de Cebu, will be for P3,400 inclusive of meals. He said the same seminar was for P11,900 in Manila.
“We don’t want to make money with this. We negotiated because we wanted to share what we have learned with more Cebuano families,” Pages said.