Lars Lemche from Teamwork reflects on building a business in Brazil and the virus that threatens it.
In the middle of a global pandemic spreading, here I sit thinking about life. I think about my 60 years of existence. I think about the time spent in Brazil; and I think about the future of my business and the future of the world.
Sometimes I look back to the days in Virum, Denmark, as a young kid. Days that were without obligation or responsibility. Then I never thought that one day I would be running a business in São Paulo.
But then came the move to Rio de Janeiro 50 years ago. My father was transferred as CEO of a Danish multinational company. Away from my comfort zone, away from my friends and away from everything. It was a new world with a new language, new friends and new activities.
But back then, life was wonderful. Still going to school, still playing soccer, and the best: the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Great! Now I look back to those days and see how wonderful they were. Thanks mother and father.
Running a business in Brazil is for heroes. Starting a business is already a masterpiece. The odds are set against you: the taxes and all the legal issues would keep most people away from doing it. But we are all stubborn and we all think we are the best. Yes, we can do it!
I don’t regret a minute of my 40 years in the moving business because we have a great company. But Brazil could and should have made it easier: lower taxes, less bureaucracy and fewer labour regulations. Today, my two daughters run the show and I oversee the operation. The good news is that they love it: first ones to arrive, last ones to leave.
Brazil has been tough on its population over the years: corruption scandals, recessions, lack of planning for all companies, and young people taking over management positions bringing with them their new perspectives. And now, just as the economy was beginning to pick up … comes the virus.
How fragile is this world? Everything is within reach, just a fingertip away on a smartphone - information, knowledge, and even relationships. How easy is that? But now we must learn the basics of taking care of ourselves and the people around us, a skill we have sadly lost.
But I am an optimistic person. Yes, we are living through troubled times, and some people are unbelievably selfish, but there are many with good hearts and I am blessed to work in an industry in which people and relationships matter. With goodwill and hard work we will pull through this and, just maybe, the world might be better for the experience.
Photos: Lars in his office at Teamwork; with daughter Stephanie, Move Management Manager (right) and Nathalie, HR Manager (far right).