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Real tales: From 'COO' (child of owner) to CEO

This third-generation CEO shares what it takes to run a family business.
By Kendrick Chua |

 

When Raul Joseph “Jojo” Concepcion was 7 years old, he was put to work at an air-conditioning parts unit of the family business. The “COO”— child of owner—sweated it out in a hot room for 60 days. It was an experience he didn’t forget even now that he’s the president of Concepcion Industries Inc.


“There are guys who do this for a living and if I don’t understand what they are doing, how will I motivate this organization?” Concepcion says of what the experience had taught him. Up to now, this hands-on CEO tries to find what motivates his people to work and to excel, so he can help them develop their full potential. 

Concepcion Industries Inc. was founded in 1962 by Concepcion’s grandfather, Jose Concepcion Sr. What started as a P20-million company has grown into a multi-billion conglomerate which makes air conditioners, refrigerators, and small electrical appliances. It is even looking to go public in the next two years.

While the firm is privately held, it is not run as a family business. “You can’t run an P8-billion company like a family business. You have to run it professionally,” says Concepcion, who has been with the company for more than 25 years. He is also the CEO of Concepcion-Carrier Air Conditioning Company. 

How is it managing a business that has been in the family for three generations? Concepcion says it’s a matter of sticking to the firm’s core competencies: attention to detail, passion, hard work, and persistence.

“It’s also about answering telephone calls and paying attention to the little details,” he says. Building on the legacy of his father, Raul, and his grandfather, Concepcion counts on key strategies to strengthen the business. Here are three of them:

 

 

Break it down.
Concepcion, a graduate of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, says the firm continues to be a market leader because management has eschewed bureaucracy typical of a large corporation. “We continue to grow and the reasons we will continue to grow further is that we break down our business to smaller businesses that are autonomous. These small business units are very clear on their target market, accountable for the numbers they deliver, and in some ways, establish a healthy competition.”

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Create different territories.
Concepcion is aware of the mistakes family businesses are prone to making. One is the tendency of the heirs to squabble over the business, often causing the demise of the company. But not Concepcion Industries. 

“You cannot just have one business for all,” says Concepcion. If a business is not within the core expertise of one family member, then they pass it to another. “Part of the peace within the family is that each one has his own territory to manage and therefore, conflict is kept to a minimum.”

 


Look after your partners.
Concepcion is proud that the company has helped a number of smaller businesses, specifically prospective business partners, over the years. “The challenge of the entrepreneur is how to grow his business,” he says, adding that oftentimes entrepreneurs set out to do more than what they are capable of doing. This is where Concepcion Industries would step in, helping them evaluate their financial capability and understand investment risk. “They show us their business plans, we review the plans and guide them,” he says. The result: “They remain exclusive partners to us.”

 

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno

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