Article written by Tue Knudsen
Global businessman doesn’t distinguish between work and leisure
60 years old on Sunday 10 May: Jørgen Schou is a businessman through and through – with the whole world as his market. On Sunday the third generation of the enterprising Schou family from Vamdrup near Kolding in Denmark turns 60 years of age, but Jørgen has no plans to retire. He is still closely following and developing his 50 plus companies – not because it’s strictly necessary, but because he cannot help it.
He was born to be a businessman. Both literally and figuratively. Jørgen is the third generation of the Schou family, which has been running companies based in Vamdrup near Kolding since 1912. Since he took over Schou Isenkram and turned it into Schou Company in 1991, the portfolio and activities have only grown and grown, and today he owns and runs more than 50 companies worldwide. Schou Company alone has 300 employees, subsidiaries and offices in a number of countries and an annual turnover of over DKK 2 billion.
Interests also become businesses
It’s one thing to be born into a business family. It’s something else to have the interest to actually run the company. But maybe that is precisely the secret of soon-to-be 60-year-old Jørgen’s success: Interest.
“I don’t distinguish between work and leisure and I never have done. Everything is connected. Family, friendships and business. What begins as a business relationship often ends as a friendship, and what starts with an interest often ends up as a business,” he says.
For example, the business relationship between Schou Company and Jysk developed into a close friendship between Jørgen and another legendary businessman Lars Larsen, while the family’s interests in such things as equestrian sports, golf and forestry have also provided the foundation for companies in the Schou dynasty.
From China to Nørrebro
Schou Company A/S was one of the first Danish companies to open its own sourcing department in China. In 2007 Jørgen sold his majority stake to the private equity company ASKO, but remained a significant shareholder and board member. In 2017 he bought back the entire company, with Lars Larsen as co-owner.
In 2013, the two of them also founded the property company Vision Properties A/S, focusing on development of and investment in properties in the Copenhagen area. The partnership continues today with Lars Larsen Group A/S and Schou Family Invest A/S as owners. The property portfolio has grown to be worth more than DKK 3 billion and currently consists of 19 major commercial and residential properties covering around 150,000 m2. Vision Properties is also engaged in a major urban development project in Nørrebro involving construction of more than 50,000 m2 of residential and commercial units with shared facilities and green areas.
The next generation has long been involved
In addition to Schou Company A/S and Vision Properties A/S, Jørgen is also active in a wide range of his own companies involving activities such as securities, professional equestrian sport, trading in trucks and cars, golf course management, forestry and agricultural operations, and much more.
Jørgen follows his 50 plus businesses closely. He is not involved in day-to-day operations, but remains on the companies’ boards, and with a head for details, he is the driving force behind the visions. Jørgen does not hold any external directorships, but concentrates solely on his own and his family’s companies.
“Today I no longer have a permanent office. I have my iPad, so I can always keep up with what’s going on. Not because I need to, but because I cannot help it,” he says.
This approach also applies to the next generation of the Schou family. Jørgen and his wife Birgitte’s three sons, Jacob, Andreas and Christian, are all involved in several of the family businesses. Jacob Schou is the Managing Director of Schou Textile A/S, while Andreas and Christian Schou run horse- and car-related companies within Absolute Gruppen.
Jørgen Schou in private
The family’s home, the 320-hectare Tågerup estate, south of Kolding, has hosted the Danish Showjumping Championships organised by the Danish Equestrian Federation for more than 10 years.
Jørgen Schou is married to Birgitte Schou, and in addition to their three sons Jacob, Andreas and Christian, they also have seven grandchildren. Jørgen will be celebrating his 60th birthday in private with his immediate family only.
also see article in Jydskevestkysten.