The recent death of Bob Gore received too little attention.
WL Gore and Associates is over 60 years old. The company was founded by Bob Gore’s father and mother, but it was Bob who make the great breakthrough by discovering a versatile new polymer which had multiple applications.
Unlike many successful inventors, Bob must have been an excellent CEO, as he led the company to international recognition and billion-dollar turnover. It now has a turnover of more than $3bn.
I am often asked, as I was in a recent interview, which companies embody the stewardship qualities that are described in Entrusted.
WL Gore and Associates offers an inspiring example of stewardship in action, as you can judge from these words on its website:
L. Gore & Associates, Inc., was founded January 1, 1958, in Newark, Delaware, by Wilbert L. (Bill) and Genevieve (Vieve) Gore.
Today, with $3.8 billion in annual revenues, the enterprise is privately owned. Our more than 11,000 employees (called Associates) worldwide are also part owners of the enterprise through the Associate stock ownership plan. Gore prefers this private ownership and believes this reinforces a key element of its culture to “take a long-term view” when assessing business situations.
We need more companies like Gore, and we will only see their unique values endure if the owners are wise enough, like the Gores, to share rewards with employees and prevent the shareholding from being diffused and dispersed with no one shareholder big enough to take a stewardship stake.
As Ong Boon Hwee and I say on page 30 of Entrusted
‘Nowhere in the catalogue of companies with a record of enduring success over generations can we find transactional companies that see themselves only as ‘earnings machines. A successful and enduring business needs to be anchored by long term owners who see themselves as stewards of the assets with which they have been entrusted’