Smooth succession at the top of the company in the Burger family, business sale / transfer

“If my kids hadn’t had the will or ability to take over the business, I wouldn’t have forced anything. “Bertrand Burger was therefore handed over gently. His two children, Paul and Lou, have officially taken over the reins of the Burger et Cie. family group They are the sixth generation of citizens to run this company based in Lièpvre (Haut-Rhin), which specializes in railings, fastening systems for terraces, half-timbered houses and landscaping products, among other things.

Founded in 1847, Burger has therefore passed from father to son and now also from father to daughter for a century and a half. Bertrand Burger, who joined the company in 1979 before succeeding his father Raymond in 1995. He led it for 26 years, a period marked by strong growth, diversification of activities and international expansion. Burger et Cie is now a beautiful medium-sized company with a turnover of 100 million euros for 320 employees.

Returned six months, he will not leave

As the former boss and current CEO suggests, the history of this handover was not written in advance. The transfer took place step by step. Both Paul and Lou Burger had gone different ways.

Lou Burger had become a corporate lawyer and worked on mergers and acquisitions. Paul had started a business start-up project with friends that was still in its infancy. “My idea was more to work in Paris or find a job to get my experience before returning to the company. My father took the opposite view, one of his friends had told him that if he wanted to work with me he should do so as long as he was in good shape. »

2016, the son comes for “a few months” to work on unsold items, “symptoms of many things that can be improved in the company”. He won’t go back.

Tandem to facilitate recovery

So Paul Burger will be the first join the family business. His father Bertrand remembers: “I was 55 years old at the time, I had to prepare the sequel and didn’t know if he wanted to take it over. As for his daughter, given her professional career, the entrepreneur did not expect her to come. To her brother’s great relief, however, she will take the plunge six months later. “I didn’t say it, but I secretly hoped my sister would join me. »

This duo recovery is easier for both of them. “We grew up with the family business and I was very interested in this environment at the time,” explains Lou Burger, who, as a lawyer, found it regrettable that she had to leave the companies she supported at the beginning of new developments. This prompted him to return to Alsace.

“When they arrived, the employees appreciated that we remain in a family business,” emphasizes her father. “After that, there is no obligation to ensure the sustainability of the company. The effect can even be reversed when children are coerced and unmotivated. »

Mechanism of the Dutreil Pact

On a legal level, upon the arrival of his children, the former head of state signed a Dutreil Pact intended to facilitate the transfer of family businesses. He then sold them a third of the company, reducing the proportion of financial partners to whom he had made the capital accessible when he was young. A second pact followed in 2021, taking the financial partners out of the deal and ceding a second third to Paul and Lou. “I still have to work on the last third of the overall translation,” adds Bertrand Burger.

The company now has two production sites, at its headquarters and historic site in Lièpvre, but also in Châtenois in the Bas-Rhin. The brothers and sisters divided the directions of the various activities. Paul manages the three brands related to furnishing: Kordo for railings, Jardipolys for garden tools and Grad for fastening systems. Lou takes care of the Booa brand wooden frame houses. “The activities are very different, it’s good to be able to devote yourself to each one individually,” she says.

The two buyers still exchange ideas every week within the management committee. It consists of a total of five people and was founded in the light of the passing of the baton in order to create a collegial leadership. Paul is President and Lou is General Manager. At the same time, a three-person supervisory board chaired by Bertrand Burger was created.

The establishment of these bodies was also decided with a view to the growth of the company, which was included in the circle of ETIs at the beginning of 2021. Since 2016, when the two children joined the company, the group has almost doubled its salaried workforce.

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