Dilmah is a family business founded on a very simple philosophy: integrity. That dictates our approach to quality, freshness, ethics, the family values in our business. It extends also to our communications for in most cases my father, Merrill J. Fernando, sometimes joined by my brother Malik and I, are shown in our television and print advertising, sharing our story simply and openly.
It’s really quite simple. What surprises us constantly is the number of people who think we are actors, paid to appear in commercials for some faceless company. In trying to think that through, I came to the realization that this is probably not due to anything we are doing wrong, but more to the reality that business has become so faceless, distant and unemotional, that seeing this family talking tea, visiting supermarkets, writing to customers, probably leads to the belief that this cannot be true. True it is though.
My father’s story is well captured by Shalaka Paradkar in her feature in the Gulf News (UAE), Friday Magazine this morning (2nd May, 2008) – http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/08/05/01/10209908.html. And it is all true!
Family business is the future. If that sounds too optimistic or utopian, let me rephrase it – family business should, and must be the future. You do not need to read Prof. Joel Bakan’s book – The Corporation – to understand the evil that people practice in the name of commercial success, shareholder value and career development, within the faceless but dominant corporations that are today larger than most nations. Interestingly these ciorporations are trying desperately to mimick family companies, through subsidiaries that take on the appearance of startups, by operatying certain acquisitions at ‘arms length’. Ultimately it all boils down to the same thing. The concept of the corporation and the company where ownership and operation are divorced, is a recipe for what Prof. bakan rightly calls a ‘pathological pursuit of profit and power’.
For the sake of our childrens’ future, let’s hope that the cycle advances or the pendulum or whatever it is that determines business cycles, swings, bringing a change in the stranglehold that corporations have today.