Large Corporations That Are Still Family Owned
With all of the huge multinational organisations we see dominating the world we inhabit today, you could be forgiven for thinking that the age of the family owned business is dead. Actually though many of these large corporations have somehow managed to resist the might of investors over the years and remain family owned. So which well-known brands have managed to stay in this club, proudly wearing the badge of family owned corporations? Here are a few that you might recognize.
Although there have been many questions raised over the years about the working practices and business ethics of Wal-Mart, one thing that we have to admire is the fact that it has remained family owned since its founding in 1962. With worldwide annual revenues approaching half a trillion dollars – or $500 billion if that figure is easier to wrap your head around – it’s difficult to imagine that the Walton family will want to sell up anytime soon. In case you’re interested the company is currently headed up by Rob Walton, the eldest son of founder Sam Walton.
To the outsider looking in the Ford family’s ownership of the Ford Empire is a bit of an odd one. Although the family members of Ford only reportedly own less than 2% of Ford’s shares, the shares that they do own are known as class B shares which give them around 40% control over the voting rights. With that in mind, I’ll let you be the judge of whether Ford is truly family owned. One other point to keep in mind when making your decision is that Ford does also have 3 family members on the board of directors.
Comcast has been in the news a lot recently regarding its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, a move that would make it far and away the largest cable company in the US. Even if regulators do block Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner, they will still remain the biggest cable provider in the US and it may surprise you to learn that they are also family owned.
Founded in 1963 by Ralph J. Roberts, Comcast began its journey after he purchased ‘American Cable Systems’ in Tupelo, Mississippi., a small cable company with only five channels and 15,000 customers. After being incorporated in 1969 under the name Comcast Corporation it grew into a behemoth of the cable industry and now boasts 22 million subscribers with an additional 11 million to come if the Time Warner Merger goes ahead. The Chairman and CEO of this family company is now Ralph’s Son, Brian L. Roberts – though Ralph is still on the board.
The name News Corp. may sound like it came straight out of a comic book but the dominance of this international media giant is no laughing matter. After the founder of News Corp. (founded in 1923) Sir Keith Murdoch successfully built Australia’s largest newspaper company, he then handed the reins on to his Son Rupert when he died in 1952. Rupert Murdoch has since grown News Corp into a global media and entertainment empire which currently – or has in the past – included names such as Fox Broadcasting, 20th Century Fox, The New York Post, The Weekly Standard, BskyB and even Baseball team the LA Dodgers.
The company hasn’t developed the best reputation over the years after being embroiled in many scandals, one of which being the phone hacking scandal currently being dealt with in UK courts.
A Mars bar a day helps you work, rest and play. We all remember the advert, don’t we? Though my parents used to say it helped the teeth rot away but I don’t want to get embroiled in a lawsuit so I’ll retract that. One thing that is for sure is that Mars has certainly managed to keep the investors away over the years.
So far on this list of companies we have mentioned companies like Ford, whose family only actually own 2% of the shares but have cleverly managed to still retain control. Well that is not the case with Mars. Mars, Inc. is still wholly owned by the Mars family. Ranked 3rd biggest in the list of privately owned companies in 2012 Mars doesn’t just make chocolate, they also deal in other areas of food and drink and even have business interests in sectors like Pet Care and even Symbioscience – whatever that is.
Are family owned corporations more customer friendly?
So there we have just 5 examples of huge corporations who are still family owned in some way or another. One thing that I did find interesting when researching this list is that the old adage of family owned businesses providing the best customer service and satisfaction does not necessarily hold true. Take News Corp., Comcast and Wal-Mart for example. You wouldn’t have to search the internet for long to find out that the reputation of these three companies isn’t exactly stellar. Still you have to admire the acumen of these business leaders who have managed to grow their corporations consistently over the years during rapidly changing times, whilst still managing to keep things in the family. In Ford’s case, they even managed to stave off bankruptcy where others failed during the recent financial crisis.
Can you name any other huge family owned corporations?