[Column] The Secret of a 100-year-old company
[Column] The Secret of a 100-year-old company
  • Seol Myounghwan, Barun Group Communication Leader
  • 승인 2019.08.02 08:33
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Seol Myounghwan, Barun Group Communication Leader
Seol Myounghwan, Barun Group Communication Leader

Just as it is difficult for a human to be over 100 years old, it is hard for a company to live longer than 100 years. The definition of a long-lived entity varies slightly from country to country. In countries with old corporate history, such as Japan and Germany, it is generally referred to like companies that continue to run "more than 100 years of start-up" and "two or more" family businesses.

Korea defines companies with "more than 30 years of start-up" as long-lived and recognizes those with "more than 45 years of experience" as prestigious long-term companies.

Globally, 33,079 companies are from Japan, 12,780 from the United States, 10,073 from Germany and 3,357 from the Netherlands.

Only eight companies have been doing business in Korea for more than 100 years. After the Park Seung-jik store, the predecessor of Doosan that opened in 1896 in Jongno, Seoul, Dongwha Pharm Co. and Chohung Bank (currently Shinhan Bank) were established in 1897.

The Park Seung-jik store was closed in 1945 due to the Pacific War and reopened a year later as Doosan Corp. Considering the continuity of businesses, many people consider Donghwa Pharmaceutical, which has never had a business vacuum, as the oldest company.

Dongwha Pharmaceutical Co.'s 'Whal Myung Su' is famous for being the nation's first new drug to popularize royal secrets. Korean companies started to open in the late 19th century. It was not easy for companies to continue their business amid the chaos of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945 and the 1950-53 Korean War. 

Since the end of the Korean War and the early 1960s, companies have sprung up in earnest. The average life expectancy of companies announced by global credit appraiser Standard & Poor’s is 15 years.

What is the secret of a long-lived enterprise? 

The secret is various, but the commonality is compressed into three. First, long-lived companies have DNA that adapts to the environment with the times. Second, business is oriented toward the public nature of society. have a plan for 10, 50 or 100 years with the will to inherit to the next generation Third, getting credit from society for long-term management is regarded as the greatest asset, and doing business that values stability over high returns.

Taejeon Group, an 84-year-old company that has been constantly trying to make Digital Transformartion, is challenging a new 100-year company. Digital Transformartion refers to the transformation of digital into a new system by combining existing industries with digital technologies.

Taejeon Group was founded by Pharma Oh Chul-hwan in 1935. According to an audit report by the Financial Supervisory Service in 2018, Taejeon Group made 748.6 billion won (+6.4 percent year-on-year) in sales of drugs in Korea.

Taejeon Group has been leading the pharmaceutical and distribution market by building advanced logistics facilities. Tejeon Group affiliate O&K is trying to transform itself by setting up Hahaha Alliance, a drugstore platform that combines cloud computing with big data.

 Kang Oh-soon CEO of O&K, Hahaha Land by Tejeon Group affiliate. (Photo=O&K)


Corporate transformation is essential.

Large companies that have a history of more than 100 years and have been doing business for decades are no exception. The trend that leads the market is constantly changing. Companies must also change.

Innovations that have occurred in areas that seem to have nothing to do with IT such as Taejeon Group(Hahaha Alliance), Starbucks(Siren Order) and Adidas(Smart Factory) are enough to demonstrate the utility of digital transformation. This is why many global companies are actively introducing digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things.

 It is not easy for a company to expand its business. The larger and more complex an organization is, the more difficult it is. But if they don't change, they can't survive. Only a strong will and execution power of management to change can lead the organization in a new direction. The centenarian age. We hope more companies will live beyond 100 years of age through self-innovation.

By Seol Myounghwan, Barun Group Communication Leader(beccokr@btec.co.kr) 

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