For two CBS brothers it has always been on the cards… to carry on the family business
18 years ago, Hans Jørgen Frost established the interior accessories and architectural hardware company Frost, which has grown into a business worth millions. Today, his two sons, who are CBS students, are working as colleagues at Frost, and in about 10 years’ time, they will inherit their father’s lifework. So they are following in their father’s footsteps, but are they also following their own passions?
Working along with your sibling and aiming to take over your father’s company one day would not necessarily appeal to everyone. But that’s exactly what Sebastian Frost and his younger brother Frederik Frost have decided to do.
Today, they already work for their father’s company as salesmen in Germany, Finland and Sweden. At the same time, Frederik Frost is studying for a master’s degree in Accounting, Strategy and Control at CBS while his older brother Sebastian Frost recently graduated with a Master of Science in Business Administration and Corporate Communication – Cand. merc. (kom).
They both chose to study at CBS not merely because of the future prospect of carrying on their father’s company. Their attention was also attracted by the courses. Because, as Sebastian Frost says: “Five years is a long time if you’re doing something that you aren’t really interested in”.
Therefore, they both applied to become students at CBS out of a genuine interest in business and economics. A decision they have not regretted.
Although they haven’t planned and chosen courses based on their future careers at Frost, Sebastian and Frederik both admit that they can apply a lot of the insight they have gained at CBS when working at Frost.
“The responsibility you are entrusted with as a student, the analytical and varied mindset you acquire as well as the exchange program, have all been essential and rewarding learning experiences that I use regularly in my job,” says Sebastian Frost and elaborates:
“For instance, when I went on my exchange trips to Hong Kong and the USA, I learned a lot about how people work and think in other countries on other continents, which is priceless knowledge to possess when working with sales abroad.”
Frederik Frost agrees.
“CBS provides you with a certain degree of professionalism, determination and the tools you can’t get from practical experience alone, which are incredibly useful for understanding the business community where you operate,” he says.
Even though they’ve been able to learn the same professional, theoretical and analytical tools, unlike their fellow students, the two brothers have always had an assured job opportunity with their father’s company on the cards after graduating.
And they do not take that for granted.
“I don’t know anyone at CBS who has the same opportunity, so I feel very privileged about it!” Sebastian Frost says.
“Not just for business, but also for pleasure”
When asked why they want to inherit their father’s business in the future, the brothers’ answers are clear. It’s all about dedication and family bonds.
“It’s the passion behind it all. The fact that the company has such an impact, that our design products can be found in institutions, offices and private homes all around the world – even at CBS. That’s what drives me and attracts me the most about taking over Frost,” Sebastian Frost says.
Frederik agrees. However, his ambition to take over his father’s business also involves the close relationships within the company.
“It means a lot that we’re in it as a family. Instead of each pursuing separate career paths, we are taking the same one together. And by working close to each other, I feel like our relationship is growing stronger. In other words: it’s not just for business, but also for pleasure,” he says.
Yet, being both brothers and colleagues demands a certain amount of responsibility as well as the ability to discriminate between work and family time.
“Just as when you’re working in study groups at CBS, you have to concentrate, be goal-oriented and motivate the others. That’s also a necessity when working with others at a company, no matter if you’re family members or not,” says Sebastian Frost.
“On top of that, you also need to find the right balance with the other employees at the company so that they don’t feel we get special treatment as the stereotypical ‘boss’ sons’,” Frederik Frost adds and goes on:
“Therefore, you sometimes have to work even harder to avoid and disprove such assumptions.”
In many ways, they seem to invest considerable thought and energy into acting professionally in relation to Frost. But Frederik and Sebastian must both acknowledge that their professional life is not without any brotherly conflicts.
“That’s just unavoidable. But we always figure them out. And I think that members of families in general tend to get annoyed with each other over the tiniest things. But in the end, that’s just because you love each other,” Sebastian Frost says.
Following in father’s footsteps
There’s a Danish saying that goes: ‘The son of a baker doesn’t always eat pastries’ – a witty way of expressing that sons are not always interested in taking over the reins from their fathers.
Now Frederik and Sebastian are choosing to eat pastries, so to speak, but not because they have a lifelong passion for interior design. It is much simpler than that.
“Interior decoration products are universal. Everybody needs coat hangers, mirrors and toilet brushes for their homes. And being able to carry on our father’s business and have an impact on people’s homes through the products he has carefully selected is a privilege,” Sebastian Frost says.
But although the future takeover of Frost might seem like the right and natural choice for the two brothers to make, it has not always been on the cards.
“After graduating from high school, I took a sabbatical year and worked for one of Frost’s customers in Vancouver, Canada. Working with mounting the products and communicating with clients really paved the way for my interest in the interior design industry, and that was when I realized that this was what I wanted to do for my career,” says Frederik Frost.
However, Sebastian was a little more doubtful about whether to carry on his father’s company.
“For me, it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. At times I thought that it was the best idea ever, and at other times, I felt like going my own way to prove to myself that I could establish something myself independently of my father,” he says and continues:
“But after thinking it over, I realized that by working at Frost, I have plenty of latitude to develop myself both personally and professionally, which I wouldn’t have had elsewhere. That’s a huge advantage and therefore I’m no longer in any doubt about continuing to work at Frost – also when our father retires at some point.”