Entrepreneur Series: The value of a shared vision

Having a sense of purpose is critical for the long-term success of family businesses, insist the Fu family.

Family businesses recognise the importance of establishing a shared vision and set of values to drive their companies forward. Yet drafting these, and adhering to them, is often easier said than done. A further difficulty faced by family businesses is connecting a sense of purpose, and the principles that drive this, to products and services.

For brothers Fu Siang Jeen and Fu Shou Jeen, Managing Director and Executive Director respectively at Wen Ken Group, this vision was established by their late grandfather and company co-founder. Launched in 1937, the company produces traditional Chinese medicines. "Back then, there was a need for affordable healthcare products," explains Fu Shou Jeen. "When workers fell ill they didn’t get paid, so they needed to a fast solution to fix their ill health."

The purpose of Wen Ken Group is to create products that benefit consumers, and to provide a better life for the firm’s employees. Fu Siang Jeen explains that achieving these requires adherence to four values: care, trust, harmony and self-sacrifice.

In its third generation, Wen Ken Group has 30 shareholders - the descendants of four families that co-founded the business. Despite this number, only three members are actively involved in the company. Clear communication and conflict management among the four families are therefore priorities for the Fu brothers.

"Each family has a single representative that meets with us to understand how the business is performing, and to gauge our views on how we see it growing," says Fu Shou Jeen. "They then communicate our discussions to their extended families to get buy-in." It’s a system that works, enthuses Fu Siang Jeen, and ensures that the value of harmony is maintained.

Fu Shou Jeen also highlights the importance of articulating the firm’s beliefs to staff, by using language that can be easily understood: the brothers changed the phrase "Win-win" to "You win, and I win", to emphasise the importance of relationships within the company.

Trust underpins everything that Wen Ken Group stands for. "As a medicine producer, we have a social reasonability not only to each other, but to the consumers who purchase our products," says Fu Shou Jeen. "We ensure our products are safe and effective - It’s better to not make any money than cause harm to consumers."

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