While in Latin America and most Asian countries, nearly half of the family businesses are run by first-generation owners, in Europe and the United States, family companies have a much longer tradition. Thirty percent of these businesses in Europe are run by the fifth generation of family members, and some are even older.
Which families rule the Czech business? For the seventh time, Forbes compiled a ranking of the largest Czech family companies (data available as of May 10, 2019). There are armourers, gambling operators, beverage manufacturers and other businesses among them.
We bring you an overview of the largest family companies in the Czech Republic according to three-year average sales and profitability.
The largest Czech network of building materials DEK is run by Vít Kutnar, the company was founded by his father Zdeněk. The CAO at DEK is Petra Kutnarová, former wife of Vít Kutnar. They aren't complaining about the coronavirus era, as the construction industry wasn't significantly affected by the pandemic. The company's main goals include further growth and market dominance. Jindřich Horák, a classmate of Vít Kutnar from the Faculty of Civil Engineering, also owns a minority stake in the company.
The largest gambling and lottery company in the Czech Republic was built by brothers Ivo and Miroslav Valenta and their father. Today, other members of the family work in it too. Due to the regulation of gambling, they have recently been investing in tourism.
Jaroslav Strnad has built one of the strongest industrial groups in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He started as a scrap trader and worked himself up to a key figure in the armaments industry. The Czechoslovak Group has been in the hands of his son Michal since 2018. It is considered one of the most important family companies in the Czech Republic. CSG manufactures weapons, ammunition or special vehicles for the military. Strnad also owns the company DAKO-CZ, which manufactures braking systems for train sets.
"Considering how heavily last year was affected by the coronavirus, we have achieved an excellent result. The performance of our companies was not significantly impaired thanks to the fact that we managed to maintain production. After all, Tatra Trucks, for example, was one of the few car manufacturers in 2020 that didn't interrupt production even for a day, thus fulfilling the contracted business agreements without problems,"
In 1990, a Citroën XM with the Italian Antonio Pasquale behind the wheel crossed the borderline in Cheb. Pasquale decided to do business in the Czech Republic, but he also came here to start a new life. The dream came true for him. He founded the Czech beverage group Mattoni 1873, which is now run by Antoni's son Alessandro. The Mattoni eagle was born in the village of Kyselka. This is where the history of the well-known mineral water "mattonka" began. Mattoni 1873 regularly uses trains to transport its goods. It is the largest supplier of soft drinks in Central Europe, as well as the largest producer of packaged mineral and spring waters in the Czech Republic. In Slovakia, it holds the number two position on the market of natural mineral waters, with the Magnesia brand being the best-selling mineral in the country.
The entire European group Mattoni 1873 produces and sells approximately 1.7 billion bottles of bottled water and soft drinks a year.
Hruška grocery stores are controlled by three families - the Hruzíks, the Škrabals and the Plevas. The company started in 1991 as an ordinary vegetable store in Ostrava-Svinov. The founder was Karel Hruzík. His son Pavel as well as the children of the other owners followed in his footsteps. The members of this family are very private people who hardly ever communicate with the media. The company's philosophy is built on their stores being close to the consumers - you'll find them in both villages and towns, always within reach, friendly and personal. The company wants to maintain this tradition in the future.
Together with his son and daughter-in-law, Jiří Hlavatý forms the backbone of the family business, which is focused on nonwovens. The domestic factory produces goods mainly for export to foreign customers. The quarantine in Britain deprived it of two million in daily sales.
"As textile workers, we are facing increasing pressure from significantly cheaper competing goods from Asia, especially from Turkey, a bastion of textiles, where the devaluation of their currency subsidizes their exports,"
The company is run by René Matera with his wife Hana, daughter Denisa and son Radim. Promet Group operates in metallurgy, engineering and also has a small share in Tatra Trucks. Matera is known to be a fan of powerful diesel engines.
Agrostroj manufactures agricultural machinery for brands such as Claas and John Deere. The man behind it is Lubomír Stoklásek. His brother Jiří and daughter Monika Suchánková also work in the company. Lubomír Stoklásek likes good food and wine. In Velké Pavlovice, he opened the Lotrinský Hotel, which originated from a historic granary.
The origin of Kofola is still unclear. There are many versions circulating around. One of them says that in 1957 the Communists were to commission the United Pharmaceutical Plants in Prague to produce a cola-based drink. A team of scientists led by Zdeněk Blažek created a recipe supplemented with caffeine. The Koffi syrup was born, the recipe of which was later modified by the entrepreneur Jaroslav Knapp.
"The most important ingredients are the leaves of marigold, blackberry or strawberry, which have always been a part of medicinal teas. During the war, strawberry leaves were used as a substitute for black tea. Then, of course, other active substances containing essential oils were added, but the substances were already imported to Czechoslovakia from friendly countries, such as Africa. One of them is liquorice,"
Originally, Kofola was supposed to be called Kofocola, but the idea was rejected. The drink has gained extraordinary popularity pretty much ever since the first bottles came off the production line in 1960. However, the lack of herbs and outdated production were an issue. After the Velvet Revolution, its popularity declined, with Coca-Cola and Pepsi coming to the fore. This was followed by trademark disputes and a change of ownership. Kostas Samaras took the stage.
His Jannis Samaras with his family, brother-in-law René Sommer and René Musil are now the main leaders of the company. They introduced the slogan "When you love it, there's nothing more to be said". In 2002, the Samara family finally held the trademark and the original recipe in their hands. The transaction cost 215 million crowns.
Pavel Juříček's empire consists of several car parts factories in the Czech Republic and around the world, especially in China. It supplies components to everyone, from Jaguar to Bentley. He set up a liquid hydrogen plant in America. Brano Group was severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. According to estimates, it should be short of at least 1.5 billion crowns in revenues due to the pandemic. Because of this, the business plan had to be reworked. The company features Juříček's son Václav and daughter Lenka.
Family businesses are said to be the most profitable ones. They are made up of tight bonds and their motivation to succeed is strong due to the fact that they work "for themselves". Even in Slovakia, there are several such companies, founded and operated by relatives.
According to the revenues, Synot Holding, owned by the brothers Ivo and Miroslav Valenta, is the number one gambling company in the Czech Republic, while the betting company Niké, owned by the Berger family, is a long-term Slovak leader in the ranking of family businesses.
The largest betting company in Slovakia is gaining momentum. The company's turnover is growing every year, along with its profitability. Founder Otto Berger apparently plans to hand over the sceptre to his son Roman, who is actively involved in the company. Time will tell whether the betting company will remain in family hands.
Raven was founded by Ľubomír Harvánek in 1993 and is one of the largest distributors of metallurgical and building materials in Slovakia. The company, which started with one large warehouse in Považská Bystrica, now has several subsidiaries in the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. Other members of the Harvánek family also work in the company.
The Labaš family owes their success to Miroslav Labaš, who literally started trading in groceries from the "garage". His two sons - Richard and Miroslav - also work in the company. Labaš operates a retail network of food stores called Fresh. It is one of the largest traders, especially in eastern Slovakia.
Matador's most significant transactions in history include the sale of approximately 30 percent of Matador's automotive division called Matador Automotive Vráble (MAV) to Portuguese strategic partner Sodeco and the sale of their rubber division to Continental. The founder Štěpán Rosin had two sons, Štefan and Miroslav, who took over the family business together with Štefan's two children. It is interesting that the history of Matador dates all the way back to 1905, when this company, originally focused on the production of rubber, was founded.
The company was founded by Vladimír Klocok. OFZ currently produces a wide range of silicon and manganese ferroalloys, filled profiles and by-products. At present, Vladimír Klocoks's nephew Branislav works in the company as well. OFZ also owns the Russian factory OFZ Novokuznetsk, which produces filled profiles for the steel industry. Their company DS Martin trades in diesel engines.
The company with more than 1,800 employees deals with repairs, modernizations and production of railway wagons. Run by Vladimír Poór, TOSS includes companies such as ŽOS Trnava and ŽOS Zvolen. At the end of 2017, the company also bought a stake in Euro Max, which operates shopping and entertainment centres, for almost 100 million euros. Wife Edita, son Martin and daughter Natália are also involved in this family enterprise.
The company T a M spedition first started operating in freight transport and built its own vehicle fleet with an adequate background. Since 2004, the company owned by husband and wife Timea and Marián Tóth has also been building a network of petrol stations under the name Férové pumpy or Autohof. It owns 19 of those, two of which are located in the Czech Republic. Fuel trade belongs to the fastest growing areas of business. Timea's brother Attila Szakál also works in the company.
The holding company is owned by the well-known businessman Karol Pavlů. Not only his wife, but also his daughter Darina - an MBA holder, member of Podpora, a cooperative for technical and social development, and the chairwoman of the supervisory board of PPA Controll - are involved in the family business. The company is one of the largest suppliers for the Mochovce power plant.
The group focuses on measuring and regulating pressures, temperatures or flows, automated and electrical control systems, switchboard production, information and telecommunication systems and industrial park management. It also operates in the field of energy outsourcing and supplies technical equipment for highways.
Tomáš Chrenek is one of the richest Slovaks, even though he lives and does business in the Czech Republic. He is a co-owner of Třinecké železárny and through the Agel division, he is also active in the field of healthcare. In Slovakia, Agel operates several hospitals as well as various treatment and diagnostic centres. The pride of the Slovak Agel is the private hospital Košice-Šaca. Tomáš Chrenek's wife Dušana and son Tomáš are also involved in the company.
Emil Krajčík from Senice started his business in 1994. His reason for founding a company was completely prosaic - he wanted to support his family. He started selling detergents, which he stored in the living room and in the garage. Now he manages the most famous drugstore network in Slovakia - 101 Drugstore, which includes over 200 facilities. Annual sales are approximately 60 million euros.
He introduced his sons to the world of business, and both of them are fully involved in the family enterprise now. Krajčík's son Matěj is probably known to many sports fans as a football player who was a member of Prague's Slavia, and even got to participate in the highest league competition in Italy under the Reggina Calcio club. Lukáš Krajčík works in the family company Agro, which focuses on agriculture and cattle breeding.
"We go to lunch together every day. However, I have the rule that we don't talk about work at lunch or family gatherings,"
How to conclude this overview? Although the business areas of the largest family companies in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are similar, when it comes to revenues and profits, Czech family businesses are doing significantly better.