Family businesses form the strong backbone of our economy

“What do you want to do when you grow up?” For many, the answer to the question of their career goal is clear at an early age: “What my father does.” Taking over a family business is viewed skeptically by some, perhaps even ridiculed. Behind this is the persistent prejudice that the person would simply settle into a position already prepared for them and would have an unfair advantage over others who build a career through their own efforts. 

GUSF03443 - Portrait of happy mature and young businesswoman in loft office

Portrait of happy mature and young businesswoman in loft office

This often completely ignores how important family businesses are. In the “audiovisual-emotional” marketing and advertising buzz of big corporations, it is often forgotten that family businesses are the economic backbone of our country: No less than 90 percent of German companies are “family businesses.” And more than 200 of these companies have sales in the billions – so these supposedly “small” companies are in reality absolute “big players” in the German economy.

Regionally rooted and internationally established

The economic engine, industry, is the driving force, even among family businesses. As an export and supplier nation, we should not be surprised by this. Anyone traveling through Germany can experience this with their own eyes everywhere they go. In the middle of the rural idyll of the Bavarian hinterland, for example, there are three large factory buildings that house a company of world renown. The founder, we will call him Karl Heinz Gustav XY, occupied a niche in the market with the production of special drill heads, laying the foundation for the company’s success. 

Later, the second generation in the form of Heinz Gustav XY, the son of the founder, took over management of the company and further expanded its position in the market. Since then, he has passed the reins on to his son Karl Heinz Gustav XY but is still acting in an advisory capacity in the background. 

For rural regions, companies such as these, with their stability and structures that have grown over many years, are a blessing even in turbulent times because apprenticeships are often hard to find in rural areas. Despite their international orientation, such companies often have deep and strong roots in their region of origin and feel connected to and responsible for the people there.

Gustafsson: A team of photographers with a sense of family

Not only in the industrial sector, but also in other completely different branches you can see how original and at the same time successful the concept “family business” can be. The team of Gustafsson shows a good example of this is. Architecture, too, is certainly a profession in which a company is often passed on to successors or even junior partners. 

GUSF03483 - Young woman sitting at terrace door using tablet

The location for a photoshoot was thematically appropriate, as it took place in a former bakery that had been converted into an office for an architecture firm oriented toward sustainability. And it’s hard to imagine a more down-to-earth, solid, and family-oriented approach than in the bakers guild, right?

The operators of the architecture firm not only attach great value to a pleasant atmosphere in their workplace but also see the success of their company as an obligation to give something back to society. For example, they support social and sustainable projects in their immediate neighborhood. This social vein is also a common feature of many family businesses that are involved in charitable causes in their traditional communities.

And our models, mother and daughter, confirmed this image at the shoot: Both embody the principle “more heart than money” in their wonderful familiarity.  In other words, a setting that offered the best conditions for an authentic visual representation of family corporate culture. A “shout-out” still goes to makeup artist Moni, production assistant Marie, and the great Italian chef, who cooked and supplied the team for two days (…on real plates, not paper…). This also made the atmosphere even more familial.

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