ImageDavid Teo (left) and Darren on cover of The Edge issue 31 May - 6 Jun 2010

MANY established local enterprises were founded about two to three decades ago.  Even though its founders are nearing retirement years, succession visibility for these companies can be a concern.

Not so for Super Group (formerly Super Coffeemix), founded 23 years ago by David Teo, 59.

Financial weekly The Edge recently highlighted the leading Southeast Asian manufacturer of instant 3-in-1 coffeemix as a tightly-knit family business.

All three of Mr Teo’s children hold key positions in the company and are helping to expand its manufacturing operations and launch slick branding and marketing initiatives.

Elaine, 31, joined the company 10 years ago. She was appointed general manager last year, and is responsible for branding, marketing and product development.

Sharon, next in line, is purchasing manager.

Darren, 27, is assistant business development manager.  He is also the group’s investor relations spokesman - the one who meets analysts and fund managers and explains Super's business model and strategy.

He knows he has to work for his place in the company. ”The throne will not be passed down on the basis of who’s closest to the chairman but who is most capable,” he was quoted as saying by The Edge.

There is a common understanding that the leadership will be passed on to people who can grow the business better, said Darren.

Several other executives in their 30s and 40s are also being groomed for key roles, he said.

ImageElaine Teo, 31, joined 10 years ago and is  now Super's general manager.

Darren, the latest family addition to Super, was the one who mooted the idea of selling coffeemix ingredients to third parties, a recent segment with sales that ballooned from S$3 million in 2007 to S$31 million last year.

And it was not easy to persuade his father on it.

Darren had to produce an extensive study of Petra Foods, a company in a similar business that grew at a tremendous rate by selling ingredients.

Eventually, it was the board that convinced the elder Teo to ramp up its ingredients production.

Revenues from this segment could double over the next 2 to 3 years, according to Kim Eng Securities analyst Pauline Lee.

Meanwhile, Teo’s children are likely to have the greatest incentive to drive the company hard, according to The Edge, due to the family’s ownership.

Teo and his wife’s family collectively own a 39% stake in Super.  Separately, Elaine and Sharon hold 0.57% and 0.56%, respectively.

Related story:
SUPER: Huge cash pile, divestment proceeds 'augur for special dividend'

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