Taking a business from one horse-drawn cart to an international logistics firm is no easy task, but that is exactly what Germany’s Fiege family has accomplished over five generations. Fieges’ road to success has been paved with their unerring work ethic, smart business decisions, and wise succession planning.

In just five generations, the business went from family farm to global powerhouse, with supply chains passing through the European Alps and all the way into China.

The tribulations of the elder generation helped cement succession as a perennial concern at Fiege, and even encouraged family unity during operations. Felix Fiege, 38 years old, fifth generation member of the family says, “The sudden death of my grandfather meant that my father and uncle had to join the business at an early age. I think, having this experience in their minds, they wanted to organise succession a bit better for the next generation. And so they called us quite early into the company, giving us different jobs and responsibilities”.

While gaining knowledge of the business at its various levels has its merits, Felix believes that one of the fundamental attributes for successful leadership is a good relationship with family members.

With an extensive global footprint, Fiege has turned its head towards sustainability and corporate social responsibility. The firm engages in a number of initiatives, including an international scheme aimed at supporting young talent from impoverished backgrounds, entitled FIT. Another recently introduced scheme looks to employ some of the 1.1 million refugees and migrants who entered Germany in 2015.

Fiege has also gone to great lengths to ensure its operations are sustainable. As part of their sustainability drive, all of Fiege’s buildings are constructed with sustainable materials and are generally equipped with solar panels. This all points towards the long-term perspective that is a hallmark of successful family businesses, as Felix explains.

Source: Finnigan, Michael ., CampdenFB, Issue 68, November 14, 2016; http://www.campdenfb.com/article/long-haul-felix-fiege-five-generations-logistics