Tel Aviv 2017: Old and new money on the Mediterranean coast


The 6th international tour of FBN-Ukraine in early October gathered in Tel Aviv 48 members of the Ukrainian Association of Family Business Owners

At the end of 2016, Israel’s GDP per capita amounted to 37.3 thousand dollars, which is higher than that of France, Italy, Spain, and almost equal to the indicators of Germany. The meeting in Tel Aviv showed that we do not know much about the history and economy of Israel. Meanwhile, the experience of this country, which is developing rapidly despite the chronic military conflict with its neighbors, has proved very relevant for Ukraine.

The meeting, what already traditional is, started with the evening “circle of trust,” where everyone could talk about important events in his life and business that had occurred since the previous event.

The president of the association Vladislav Burda opened the morning program and delivered a presentation on business growth models. We got used to living in the crisis, but how should we act, when the economy starts growing? Are we ready to use these opportunities to the maximum? To intensify the reflection on that, Vladislav distributed to the families a large assessment test “Family Business Card,” which can help to evaluate family assets and obstacles that a family faces, and relate the former to the latter.

Then the co-CEO of FBN-Ukraine Larisa Mudrak reminded the main elements of the new association’s strategy and let us detailed into the plans of implementation of the projects on creation the family business academy, attraction of new members, holding the “Best Family Business” competition, etc.


The appearance of the Israel’s richest family businesses representatives at our event was a newsmaker for the participants of the meeting.  Ruthie Wertheimer, a representative of the family business second generation, spoke about the history of creation the company for the production of metal-cutting equipment “ISCAR” by her father.

Having originated in 1952 as a small workshop of Stef Wertheimer, the family business developed rapidly thanks to innovative solutions and new technologies. In 1982, the company’s management passed to the second generation of the family. The company’s success in selling its machines all over the world was so impressive that even Warren Buffett got interested in it. In 2006, his fund Berkshire Hathaway acquired 80% of the shares of this family business for $4 billion, and in 2014 Buffett bought the remaining 20% for 2 billion. The family members remained at the head of the company. The family also persuaded that the headquarters of “ISCAR” should keep staying in Israel. The company operates in 54 countries and continues its active growth. The family took the top line in the ranking of the richest people in the country. Ruthie Wertheimert herself was in the management of the family company and only at the age of 50, she initiated the creation of her own business. The family is also engaged in investing in other family businesses sharing their experience with them. In this activity, the third generation of Wertheimers also actively takes part.

Nava Michael-Tsabari, the co-owner of one of the oldest and a very famous family businesses in Israel engaged in food production STRAUSS GROUP, belongs to the third generation of the Strauss family. She shared her history of active business development by the forces of the first and second generations, and told about the partial share transfer to six representatives of the third one. Nava’s mother and uncle used to head the company. Today, only one of the Nava’s cousins actively participates in the company work. Our guest got actively busy with studying the experience of other family businesses and consulting in this direction. “I asked myself: who am I,” says Nava Michael-Tsabari, and answered – I’m a researcher and consultant.” Nava paid much attention to the preservation of family traditions and maintained relations with 10 representatives of the family’s fourth generation. They hold family events, tell the younger the story of how their business started and necessarily bake a grandmother’s plum cake, the recipe of which is kept in secret (although, it turned out that a similar cake is wonderfully baked by Savva Libkin).

Everyone was waiting for a meeting with the already familiar to us and the world- famous psychologist and consultant, the author of the book “Genetic code of personality” Orenia Yanai.

Orenia in details told about her concept of “Roots and wings.” The roots are what connects a person to the past: how the family history unfolded, where the family was getting success, what family believes in, what rules are being said, what is important for the family, what cases are recalled here. Wings – this is what allows a person to move into the future: who and what inspires you, what abilities you show, what you are striving for. How do we combine the former with the latter? Aren’t we carried away by “roots,” forgetting that it is important to move on, to be true to our wings? In her speech, there were many deep ideas and clues for further reflection.

Another important event of the day was a visit to the innovation center of the world’s largest research and consulting company GARTNER. A young entrepreneur Michael Zeevi hosted us. He initiated the launch of this center in Israel and headed it after the company bought from Zeevi his promising start-up SENEXX.

Having seen army service, Michael and his friend Vladimir Feldman invented and developed a platform based on artificial intelligence. It helps entrepreneurs and businesses to find the materials they need for research based on understanding the specific human needs and language processing algorithms. “The first money into the project was pumped in 2011 by the investors in Boston,” Zeev told us. That allowed increasing the number of engineers in the company in Israel, and launching a sales office in America. In 2014, when the company had 150 customers and 150 thousand people used its product, GARTNER took a fancy for the project. Zeev was 28 years old. “It was tens of millions of dollars,” – Michael answers evasively about the amount of the deal and adds, “GARTNER saved $ 60 million a year thanks to the new technology.” Answering our questions, Michael advised to attract investors by talents and uniqueness of decisions, not cheapness of supply and availability of workforce. “The low-cost model will not help you to achieve success,” he believes.

The evening of this busy day, we spent in a unique place – the culinary studio of Barak Iekhezkiel. The restaurant was opened only in the spring of this year and already managed to surprise the gourmets from around the world. Everyone happily joined in supervising the actions of the chief, and some were even able to participate in the preparation of dishes. However, it is meaningless to say the words about what happened in the studio – you need to see photos and videos.

The second day of our meeting was travelling. Near Haifa, we met with an authoritative business coach, the hero of Forbes publications and the Honorary Consul of Slovenia in Israel, Adi Rosenfeld. Adi received us in his house and introduced to young Israeli entrepreneurs.  Together with him, they are creating a kind of network of promising, non-indifferent people for whom sincerity and trust are important in business. Many people consider them the future elite of the country. Adi has almost 20 years of experience in family business; he enters the boards of directors of the five largest companies. He is sure that “good things are happening in the environment of good people,” therefore, he devotes his efforts to the search for such people involving them in the entrepreneurial network of trust. He believes that giving people love is not so easy, it’s “like muscles that need to be trained.” Nevertheless, if such things happen, then people can free from external roles and become real. Straight talks in groups with Israelis, the exchange of questions, the search for wording about themselves – those were several hours of important intellectual reflection and pleasure from the common openness to each other.

That day, we also had time to call on the family winery “Amphora” in the picturesque surroundings of Zikhron-Yakov. The very first Israeli settlers started making wine here, and today “Amphora” is a well-known brand in Israel.

Before dinner, a part of the event participants was able to go on a tour of the most interesting places of ancient Jaffa, one of the oldest cities on the planet. On Jaffa’s beach, in Cassis restaurant, there was the farewell dinner for the sixth international tour FBN-Ukraine.