At Galletas Gullón, the stock power of the founder’s children is delegated in favor of his widow and the former CEO of the company.
Since the promotion of Martínez Gabaldón to the company’s board of directors in the second half of the 1980s, management has been very focused on him. María Teresa’s children were still children and the president herself had to support her family and a whole company like Gullón, so she decided to hand the helm over to a professional. As Javier Rovira, Professor at ESIC, points out, the company was “very totemic in its management style”.
And whose are you?
The sons joined the company in the last decade, first Rubén and Hernán – currently president and export manager respectively – and seven years ago Félix, who is in charge of general management.
As stated by the board, for years and with the support of everyone, no dividends have ever been paid. Everything has been reinvested and is the second investment company in Castilla y León, only behind Renault. This model has led the company to success and profitability.
Behind this conflict lies an abuse of trust by María Teresa Rodríguez, the widow of the company founder, in the now former director of the company Martínez Gabaldón.
For Francesç Bosch, Professor at EAE, “There was very powerful general management and the director may have had expectations more in keeping with members of ownership than a professional performing management and leadership functions, even if at the highest level. There may be a conflict of interest between the expectations of the manager and those of the family.” Badal believes that “there are a number of family owners who are not part of the management, as is the case with María Teresa’s brothers. Added to this is the very strong weight of a self-employed professional who does not belong to the family and who was used as a trigger. It is a professional model run by an independent director, but in which the second generation occupies important positions, until the divergence of interests endangers the situation, up to the point of dismissing one of the architects of an important phase of expansion. His governance model seemed very appropriate at the time and perhaps there was too much confidence in the composition and political rights of the board.” And what to do when the situation reaches a point like this? Rovira states that “it is now very important to go back to the culture and company philosophy of origin and to redefine it”.