Tuesday 16 January 2018

Bottoms up! Portrait of an Irish family firm

Savvy Cooley Distillery founder and diamond, oil and gold mining entrepreneur John Teeling's approach to succession is remarkably laissez faire.

Both his sons, Stephen and Jack, worked at Cooley before the whiskey business sold for an intoxicating €75m. They had both had careers in banking here and abroad before joining Teeling, where they were involved, mostly with Cooley, for about a decade.

"The expectation most definitely was that they would come in and run things," Teeling acknowledges, "they had the interest. I have one daughter who is an academic and has no interest."

"You're harder on them and expect more from them," he says of employing family.

While they continue to be investors and directors of family firms, they're doing their own thing now, and that's fine with Teeling too.

"Jack sees the future in the development of Irish whiskey [he is starting his own business, Teeling Whiskey Company. He'll have his own company -- at least one, if not more.

"Stephen [who now works with Cooley's buyer, Beam] will go on to be very senior multinational marketing executive."

Was there sibling rivalry? "Perhaps there was, but not that I ever saw!" John Teeling says. "There was plenty for both of them."

Teeling, who took over his father's business at just 14 after his father died, isn't preoccupied by succession. "The only torch I wanted them to carry is that they were competent and capable of running their own ventures," he says.

Sunday Indo Business

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