Entrepreneur Series - Preserving and Extending the Family Entrepreneurial Spirit

Leading by example can profoundly shape both company and family values for generations.

According to two Hong Kong-based businesses run by multi-generation families, empowering the next generation is essential in maintaining a successful and sustainable family business. At the recent HSBC Private Banking’s Entrepreneur Series, entitled ‘Building Futures — Turning Today’s Dreams into Tomorrow’s Legacy’, members of the Cheng and Lo families, the respective founders of Polygroup and Crystal Group, additionally emphasised the importance of successor empowerment in driving entrepreneurialism.

Start early

Kenneth Lo, founder of market-leading garment manufacturer Crystal Group, nurtured his son’s entrepreneurialism at an early age. Andrew Lo began by helping with miscellaneous roles at the family factory. As he matured, Andrew started to sit in at client meetings, witnessing his father’s business wisdom first-hand. This was during times of market uncertainty and economic restructuring. Now, as CEO of the group, Andrew has his own challenges to manage; the garment manufacturing industry is currently experiencing widespread consolidation. Nonetheless, he remains inspired by what he learned during his early years. “My focus is to prepare my company to be part of the mainstream rather than being consolidated by the market,” he explained.

Andrew also learned the ‘all for one, and one for all’ philosophy of his father, which remains a shared family and business value. “We need everyone in the company to know that we don’t only focus on profits — we also benefit the community,” Kenneth said. Upon taking over the company, Andrew adopted this philosophy and led Crystal Group to become one of the world’s leading garment manufacturer. Crystal Group has also won wide acclaim for its commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Empower the next generation

Empowering his children to exercise entrepreneurialism is also an important goal for Paul Cheng, founder of Polygroup — a family-run, diversified manufacturing business that operates globally. “My children need to take responsibilities for their own decisions, and I will give them opportunities to succeed in their own ways,” he said. In fact, he handed on the business in full trust, encouraging the younger generation to shine and outdo his own achievements.

Son Lewis Cheng, Polygroup’s current CEO, grew up with his father’s motto, “Making a bad decision is better than making no decision.” Lewis was trained to be a decision-maker who is not afraid to make major decisions. He is determined to bring new energy to his enterprise to meet today’s continually changing business environment. “Business diversification is the long-term plan, but establishing a strong foundation and well-defined processes were of utmost importance,” he added.

Changes in corporate culture and leadership initially sparked conflicts within the company. However, Lewis’ teamwork and talent-focused management style has since led to significant growth of Polygroup during his 11 years in charge.

To learn more about encouraging and passing on the entrepreneurial spirit to the next generation, watch the Cheng family share their journey.

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