80 years of history, four generations , one strategy
Harald Aars Møller started Strømmen Auto in 1936 and created the foundation for an 80-year long story which has developed MøllerGruppen into becoming northern Europe's leading car business, with over 4 300 employees and 26 billion Norwegian kroner in revenue. Today the ownership in Møllergruppen and Møller Eiendom together with the investment company Katalysator, are collectively within the family's company called Aars.
My grandfather, Harald Aars Møller, was a very modern man! He had vision and had a eye for opportunity.
Through networking, good employees and his own ability to make good deals, he built a modern business. His values are still an important part of our day to day business, even though this time around, there has been a lot of changes in how we use our ownership, says Harald Møller, head of the board in Møllergruppen and the family company, Aars.
The pleasure of creating, together with other people, is still very central. By being one family that owns the businesses, we've also been able to collectively think and work while still focusing long term. Our most important contribution to the businesses is to have an engaged ownership, by having active participation in boardroom meetings.
Through the establishment of Aars, the model of how we run things has been radically changed over the years. With almost 16 owners, spread over three generations, there was a need to move ownership discussions out of the operative businesses. “We needed an arena to discuss ownership issues, such as risk, a shift of ownership, further developments within the family's ownership and our responsibility towards our community. I usually say that family ownership is the best form of ownership when it works, but the worst kind when it doesn’t” says Harald Møller and Øyvind Schage Førde.
Additionally, there was some reworking within the family's collective ownership. “Some may criticise us for becoming more financial, but to my mind, it is about laying the groundwork for the next generation - a generation that will be even further away from the car trade and that will have a lower tolerance for risk than my generation. We grew up with cars as a discussion theme for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I am emotionally connected to the car trade. This will possibly change with the next generation” says Harald Møller.
As number 7 in the world, Harald A. Møler got an import contract with Volkswagen AG in 1948. He saw the potential in small cars early, and the Beatle because the foundation for Møller's success
Back to the start
In 2003, a devision happened, parts of the family passed on parts of the car trade, while another part took over significant parts of the real estate aspect of the business. In 2010, Schage Førde came back as owners in MøllerGruppen and were central to the establishment of Aars.
A defined owner strategy is a precursor for real ownership. As a lawyer, I look at Aars' owner policy as the law of the family, says Øyvind Schage Førde. The most important thing isn't what we own, but who we own it with!
There has always been a good relationship between ourselves and the other part of the family. After we had sold out our real estate portfolio, it was natural for us to get back into MøllerGruppen as owners. Our new partner strategy gives proper guidance for our mutual ownership. Openness and trust are integral to our engagement with the business as owners. Aars also has a big part to play, as we're not a group but a owned company. That means that the businesses have room to manage as long as they follow the strategy which is defined by the owners, and the owner's ambitions are the primary focus.
The leadership within Aars is supposed to help the owners to perform active ownership within the framework which has been laid out by the proprietor strategy. “The owners have been clear on what they mean by the “best” ownership, says Sigurd Haavik, CEO in Aars. Relevant keywords are:
A long term perspective for increased value
Aars doesn't have a set timeframe for its ownership. This gives space to look past short term problems and take advantage of future possibilities.
The owner's desire and ability to cohere to the long term initiatives - necessary in order to acheive a positive development within the businesses.
There shouldn't be any restrictions other than the ones we place on ourselves.
Actively present and involved; The important thing is to be a good discussion partner, show engagement and always try to develop our understanding of the businesses further.
"When we feel that we can no longer deliver on these promises, or that other things are more important for the success of the businesses, it's time to look for new owners" says Sigurd Haavik.