This week the Family Business Office, for its sixteenth edition of Focus On World Business Leaders , brings you August Oetker. The Dr Oetker Family Business is now approaching its fifth generation , proof that family businesses can survive the test of time.
The family business began in 1891 when his great-grandfather, pharmacist August Oetker, started selling non-perishable baking powder.
Oetker JR took over the running of the food and drinks company Dr Oetker (part of the Oetker Group) from his father in the early 1980s and went about reorganising it as well as growing the business through acquisitions and exporting the brand abroad. Known for his early commitment to good environmental practices, Dr Oetker was one of the first companies in Europe to employ an environmental manager. Fourth generation Oetker has said he doesn’t mind if a fifth-generation family member isn’t found to lead the company – what matters, he says, is sustaining good management.
An interesting series of events followed the family business as Oetker Jr ‘s father was granted permanent leave from his duties to take control of the family business in October 1944 following a family tragedy resultant of the repercussions of World War Two. Over the next six decades, the former SS officer, would add interests in shipping, food, beverages, banking and hotels, creating a conglomerate that has more than 26,000 employees and €10.9 billion in annual revenue.
Oetker died in 2007, at age 90, leaving eight children from three marriages — Rosely Schweizer, August Oetker, Bergit Douglas, Christian Oetker, Richard Oetker, Alfred Oetker, Carl Ferdinand Oetker and Julia Oetker — and an empire now valued at $12 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The siblings have never appeared individually on an international wealth ranking.
Each of the Oetker children and their families control 12.5 per cent of Bielefeld-based Dr August Oetker KG, which serves as a holding company for the family businesses, according to Jorg Schillinger, the entity’s spokesman.
“They’re very stable as a dynasty,” Rudiger Jungbluth, author of “Die Oetkers,” a biography of the family, said in an interview at a Bavarian restaurant in Hamburg last December. “August Oetker JR owns 12.5% of Dr. August Oetker, an $8 billion (sales) conglomerate with interests in food, beverages, financial services and hotels.
August studied economics and worked for the Lehmann Brothers in the 1970s, then returned to Germany to work at the family company.
In 2010, at age 69, he became the advisory board chairman. His son Philip is a board member and in all probability will be the eventual successor.
( All factual and statistical information presented in this blog has been obtained from an extract from the Irish Times October 14 2021 and Wikipedia )
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