The 1930s—the Great Depression—Australia: Thomas Berg, the son of German immigrants, working as an odd-job man and struggling to support his family, starts a business with a second-hand truck and his own labour. Tough, single-minded and tyrannical, he drives its growth into a manufacturing conglomerate—Berg Industries—that cynics see as a capitalist heaven on earth. His target was for Berg Industries to remain family-owned for at least five generations—a goal that family companies rarely attain. Setting about making that goal achievable, he appoints his sons as his subordinates, funds a world trip for his daughter, Eva, and his granddaughter to prepare them for future directorships, and makes it impossible for non-family investors to buy in. When Thomas dies, his only remaining son, Eric, becomes the chairman, and he invites Eva to be the director. Together, they pursue Thomas’s vision. Later, their successors have to tackle very significant challenges. The first four Berg generations control the business during the twentieth century and expand it to include activities in Australia, England, and The United States. Some family members have involvements in Germany and India too. There are fifth-generation members who have yet to impress. This novel goes beyond successes and failures in business deals. It shows members of the expanding Berg dynasty at work and in private life, handling tensions that ebb and flow—and finding that getting relatives onside can be like herding cats!
Geoff Fry lives in Adelaide, South Australia. He is a retired businessman who served on company boards in Australia, New Zealand, and The United States. He was chairman of three of those companies. He has also been chairman of three business-related community associations. Prior to his business career, Geoff was a signals officer in the Australian Army. In 1955, he was awarded the Queen’s Medal for graduating first in the four-year course at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, which is in Canberra. He also has a degree in Electronic Technology from the University of Adelaide, and an Arts degree, majored in Economics and Political Science, from the Australian National University, Canberra. He developed the concept for this novel from conversations during his weekly games of golf at Adelaide’s Kooyonga Golf Club with his playing partner—a friend who is a retired fourth-generation member of a family which owned a significant Australian business conglomerate, and who is prominent in family-business associations. The novel deals with real-life and real-business situations, but all the families, individuals, and businesses described in it are fictional.
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