Two hidden gems get recognition

Two of the family business sector's hidden gems were recently recognized for their contribution to entrepreneurship and sustainability. It is an all-too-rare recognition of the mid-market, which drives the European economy.

In France, second generation technology business Groupe Gorge has just been awarded the 2014 Prix de l'Audace Créatrice. The price, awarded to a French company which has generated entrepreneurship against a background of strong growth, was presented to Raphael Gorge, chairman and chief executive of the Paris-based business, by the president of France Francois Hollande.

Raphael’s father Jean-Pierre set up Groupe Gorge in 1990, specializing to begin with in engineering parts for the automobile sector. Raphael joined in 2004 and set about changing the business more towards new technology in areas like 3D printing and security systems at power plants. Revenues are around €214 million, and pre-tax profits rose more than 40% in 2013 -- a testament to the entrepreneurship of the business.

Meanwhile, across the border in German construction company Wolff & Muller has made a shortlist of three for the annual "Germany's most sustainable mid-sized companies in 2014" award. Founded in 1936, the Stuttgart-based business is now in its third generation of control and is involved in construction across Germany and abroad. On being short-listed for the award, managing partner and third generation Albert Durr said: “For all the change [in the construction business] there are constants that define us as a business: the family-side and the roots to our region.”

Because they are small and family-owned, firms like these rarely get championed -- at least outside their home countries. That's wrong. Businesses like Group George and Wolff & Muller are the lifeblood of Europe's economy.