PT Musim Mas, owned by Bachtiar Karim, is one of the most successful oleo chemical companies in the world and sending most of its production for export. Although famously known as a low profile business person, Bachtiar Karim also has great business skills and achievement sense to develop his family’s originally small soap company into giant oleo chemical company that has 80 palm oil companies that supply crude palm oil, as well as numerous oil palm plantations.
Such an amazing achievement for a small family company is not something to overlook. Despite many challenges of developing family company into big company that has international and national customers, Bachtiar Karim shared his secret of success in managing family business.
Professionalism as Key for Family Business
In several interviews, including for SWA Magazine, Bachtiar said that the lack of professionalism and favoritism are the biggest pet peeves in family business. Often, a person cannot do his or her tasks properly because other family members delve too much, resulting in possible arguments, controlled and even forced decisions that do not favor pure professionalism. Also, it is not a secret that nepotism becomes big problem, especially if incompetent family members are chosen in places of more professional and skillful outsiders.
In running PT Musim Mas, Bachtiar and his siblings always try to act professional. They separate business with family matters, and they recruit expatriates to fill in strategic positions in the factory instead of their own family members. This way, whenever they need to make decision, they do not have to feel forced in favor of family whims. Also, Bachtiar and his siblings make clear distinctions between their job descriptions and tasks, so they know their limits and powers when working together.
Working Together to Develop Family Business
Despite all the downsides, Bachtiar also admitted that working with family members has its own perks. For example, he and his siblings are free to share any opinions, including strong criticism, so they can be truthful to each other about certain problems in the company and everyday business. They can also work together better in developing the business; from relatively small soap factory to giant oleo chemical facility with numerous plantations and 80 palm oil factories.
Family business is the root of Bachtiar Karim’s success, but he has tricks in managing his works in the company so there are no conflict of interests between him and his family members.