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As we approach the Lenten Season, with all the calamities and unrest in other parts of the world, it may be good to reflect on our purpose in life…
Once every year, the Concepcions hold a family shareholders’ meeting. We make sure that this annual meeting is held in different parts of the Philippines or even Asia.
The Concepcion clan is quite big and “clannish”. In parties, unless you make an effort to separate us, we tend to gravitate towards each other. This is very true except for the Hechanova Family who must have inherited the extrovert factor from their mother Mely Hechanova, who was recognized by Philippine Tatler with their Pinnacle Award. She is the only sister of the three Concepcion brothers — the twins, JoeCon (my father) and Raul, and Rene (who passed away quite early and sold his interest in Concepcion Industries to pursue other ventures).
My grandfather Jose Concepcion Sr. used to work for Edward J. Nell, then started Concepcion Industries together with his son Raul Concepcion who is now the chairman and CEO. My father JoeCon worked with my other lolo, Salvador Araneta, in starting RFM Corp. The clan has grown so much, with presently 112 members.
We are also a family with personal advocacies: my father with his NAMFREL; my Uncle Ronnie with his consumer watch; my cousin Ton with the Condura marathons for environment preservation; and me with Go Negosyo.
With a growing family, the importance of entrepreneurship comes to play. Among 17 of us who are third generation shareholders, six are working for the company. Both sons of my Uncle Raul made their own mark. Jojo heads the air conditioning business. Ton with cousin Renna runs Condura. They are responsible for the rapid success of the Condura Negosyo Ref. Keeping the number of family members to this level is ideal, as we do not want a lot of members working for the company because it might to lead to conflict. Very few families have defied this gravity. The Aboitiz Family is one of the few exceptions. While there are a lot of them who work for the company, they have maintained a harmonious relationship because of the strict governance and rules. Many family companies envy them. This is why we have our annual shareholders’ meeting.
This time, Japan was the choice since it’s great to be inspired by Japanese creativity. They are also known for great products especially appliances, on which the Concepcion Industries is focused on, particularly in ‘white lines’ and mainly on air conditioners and refrigerators. White lines also cover washing machines, ovens, freezers and small appliances; like blenders, microwave, vacuum cleaners, etc. The Japanese are also know for toilets and how they have made it so comfortable, with heated seats and all the different sprays and dryers. In fact, the bathrooms were the first thing we checked out as we entered the rooms.
In our meeting, the family reaffirmed its support for continuing with its vision to be the most dominant company in providing comfort-cooling and white lines appliances, equipment and services in the country. We intend to remain focused on these categories to be able to dominate the industry, which is a P7 billion industry for refs. It is a growing industry, with an average growth rate of 10 percent, where the current penetration level of air conditions and refs are only around 22 percent. So, the market opportunity for these products in our country is still huge.
The importance of focus allows families to explore businesses that will not compete with Concepcion Industries. It allows the declaration of dividends that will support the entrepreneurial endeavors of the shareholders to pursue other interests.
As the second generation would like to live a legacy and ensure that the vision will be maintained, the company plans to go public in 2012. Going public, which I pointed out, will ensure greater longevity in Concepcion Industries, as the public will ensure proper governance and transparency. It is not to say that the company does not practice proper governance and transparency now, but going public forces those standards even more, especially with PSE and SEC compliances and reports.
I have personal experience as CEO of a publicly listed firm (RFM Corporation, which is a food and beverage company known for Selecta, Swift, Fiesta, Sunkist, among other brands). Going public has provided many benefits in preventing family disputes. It allows shareholders to exit if they have great differences with the vision of the company. Amidst all these, the deep foundation of family values that has been instilled by our elders has kept the peace.
Most of us are deeply religious. Others are more religious. What is important is that we all pray as a family. As Father Payton would say, a family that prays together stays together. Every Christmas, the whole clan would pray the rosary together and would share stories for the year. The women in the family are constant reminders to us of our spiritual obligations. Believe me, they can be so kulit and so strong with their catholic beliefs. At times, those beliefs can be so inflexible. But, then again, these beliefs and values are what kept our family strong and together, especially through different trials. The biggest of trial was our Japan trip the other week. The stories and accounts of my cousins have been printed in Star and Inquirer.
The family had its first healing and thanksgiving mass the other day. My sister Michelle was traumatized from her Disney Sea experience. Henry Atayde joined the family mass and shared his experience also in Disney Sea. He was there to plan for a big La Salle world event in Manila on September.
So many clans focus too much in building wealth. Many of them end up fighting. The values and standards of the founders end up destroyed and families are broken forever. I am not saying that we are a perfect model family. We still have a long way to go. Each family must take precaution to avoid tragedies from happening. Family bonding is key. The Japan tragedy was a great teambuilding experience for all of us.
Wealth is nothing, if in the end our families will self-destruct and members would start hating each other. Let us be thankful because God has indeed blessed us. Life could have ended for all the Concepcions in Japan two weeks ago. We have a purpose. United as a blessed Filipino family, we should use this purpose to be of help to others.
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or Joey Concepcion Facebook account. Visit www.gonegosyo.net. Watch the top rating entrep show GO NEGOSYO: Kaya Mo! On QTV, Saturday and Sunday 8-8:30 a.m., with replays in NBN every Tuesday 9:15-10:15 p.m. Get daily Go Negosyo Text Tips in your mobile phone by sending GONEGO to 2910.