To gain a better understanding of the sociological component of how family businesses are run, we had the opportunity to have a workshop with Dr. Isabell Stamm, from the Technical University Berlin (TU). The institution has more than 30,000 students and is ranked between the best universities in the city. Dr. Isabell provided us a sociological perspective towards how family businesses work, its impact on family relationships and entrepreneurial families cases. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn key factors that influence this unique type of organization.
That afternoon, we had the opportunity to visit the ALBA Group in the heart of Berlin. First arriving at the building one would think they are just a basketball team, given the memorabilia they are selling in the front of the building. But the basketball team serves more as a marketing tool and speciality project of the family owned business, which main business is recycling. ALBA operates throughout the EU, as well as in Turkey and China. They turn all types of waste into useful materials, including plastics and their proprietary “Green Coal”, which is able to be burned in traditional coal fired plants. This type of coal is perfect for countries and regions that want to go green but have already invested heavily in coal infrastructure. ALBA Group has turned recycling into a very profitable business, and has received several rewards and recognition in their field.
Beyond that, the company has an interesting project; they own their own basketball team, an ownership initiative led by the family’s passion for the sport.
The day ended with a microbrewery visit, where we tried one of the most famous German products. The place had a traditional look, where the community gather together to support local, crafted and great beers.
The second day was directed to sightseeing and the big soccer game event. There were around 70,000 people excitingly cheering for the home team Hertha Berlin vs.Leipzig. Built for the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics, it is the same stadium where the African-American runner Jesse Owens famously won the gold medal, only to have Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler refuse to present it to him.
Having this experience, showed us the relevance soccer is in the German culture. While Berlin lost the match 4-1, the energy throughout the game made it a special day.
Blog post written by Europe Study Tour paarticipants Sean, Fernando, Michael and Igor.