Those who have youth …
A few times a year, my brother Jasper and I get together with our five children to talk about our business. We do this together with an external advisor, who guides us in the so-called ‘next generation development’.
We spend a Saturday morning together discussing developments in and around our family business, innovations and long-term plans. All children participate in these meetings, whether they are or have been active in our company or not. These meetings have now grown into a fine tradition. They’re fun and inspiring, and very useful too, because they ensure that the youngest generation of Van Duurens is also directly involved in the company.
As far as I’m concerned, activities like this underline the value we attach to the fact that we are a real family business. A business that has been run by the Van Duurens for four generations, and one where the ‘name bearers’ continue to form the management team to this day. This is very valuable for several reasons. Firstly, because over the decades we have developed into real specialists. The knowledge of the transport world was literally spoon-fed to us and we pass it on from generation to generation. Secondly, because we have translated the concept of a family business into our core values: Short lines of communication, a personal bond with our business relations and our employees, and heart for the business.
I wrote in a previous column that research has shown that family businesses in particular did remarkably well during the Corona pandemic. In response to this Nyenrode research, Roberto Flören, RSM Professor of Family Businesses and Business Transfers, said that family businesses are characterized by flexibility, financial independence and fast decision-making: “This is why they often come out of crises better than non-family businesses. Winston Churchill’s quote ‘Never waste a good crisis’ is certainly well spent on Dutch family businesses,” said Flören in an article on the Nyenrode website. According to Flören, 61 percent of family businesses indicate that the corona crisis within the company has led to lasting innovations. We recognize this too, because at Van Duuren we worked very hard during the corona pandemic to improve a number of processes and to strengthen our logistics network. I wrote about this in a number of previous columns, which you can read here and here. Nice to mention here: It is planned that Roberto Flören will contribute to one of our next next generation meetings.
Back to the youngest generation of Van Duurens. Several of our children have already worked in various positions in the company, and my cousin Sven is currently working in the company as Manager Domestic Distribution. As a representative of the youngest generation he – together with other younger colleagues – brings new enthusiasm into the company. As ‘digital natives’, these young people not only cherish the company’s core values, they are also carriers of technological innovation. In short: working together with people from different generations is always of value, and it’s even more wonderful when you can do that with your own family. These are the kinds of things that put a smile on my face – even as I write this late summer column, with a view of the Mediterranean.