Alberta Group Founded by George Barbaro Sant in 1988, Alberta started off as a micro enterprise dedicated to the supply of fire extinguishers. Today, Alberta Group has grown exponentially to a large enterprise comprising Alberta Fire & Security Equipment Limited, PT Matic Environmental Services Limited and ISTC – International Training Safety College Limited having a work force of 300 team members.
Liz joined her father in the family business at the tender age of 18, closely followed by her brother Duncan. When Liz joined the family business as a receptionist, the company just comprised a team of 5. Having both held various positions within the group, Liz and Duncan have gained substantial insights to the different facets of the organisation. Their working together from a very young age has helped Liz and Duncan develop very clearly defined roles and responsibilities through open lines of communication, which has in turn led to a harmonious co-leadership relationship.
Mario Puzo once said that ‘The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, lies in its loyalty to each other’. Loyalty sounds like a perfect starting point when talking about family run businesses, but what some may fail to realise is that it comes with a few sidekicks like frustration, anger, love, happiness, pride and confusion, all tightly interwoven into the dynamic of a family operation. And that is where the interesting part kicks in, because separating natural emotions that run freely within a family unit from a family business, is not an easy task.
Family businesses have the increased likelihood for conflict between family members, whether it arises from different perceptions, lifestyles or generation gaps. The danger arises when placing too much emphasis on the conflict itself as opposed to the dynamics of running a successful business. A balance needs to be accomplished between family demands and the needs of the business. Separating emotions from the business is not an easy task. The foremost and primary drawback is the more pronounced possibility of internal conflict, since conflict situations between family members in a business tend to consume more time, energy and emotion in such a manner that the company may neglect the dynamics of business.
What really aided Alberta in bringing the family together and being aligned on corporate governance was the guidance of external consultants and having a Board of Advisors. Such Board of Advisors has helped the Group to have a more strategic direction through the monthly board meetings discussing potential acquisitions, exploring new markets and overseeing management accounts.
George Barbaro Sant is the Chairman of the Group whilst Liz and Duncan jointly lead the organisation.