LBS Bina’s Lim Hock San- No Room for Nepotism in Management


LBS Bina’s Lim Hock San: No Room for Nepotism in Management

From the Murdoch media empire to the Trump White House to the chaebols of South Korea, having your empire controlled by family members has caused controversy as much as it has generated cash.

Family run businesses have always been a tricky business.

But despite all its trials and tribulations, it remains a widespread practice all around the world. In pretty much every country on the globe, there’s a family run company, big or small.

In Malaysia, Tan Sri Lim Hock San is one of those people who knows it all too well.

At 61-years-old, he presides over a family built and family run empire – property developer LBS Bina.

LBS’ story sounds like a classic Malaysian “can-do” business story; it was founded in the 60’s by his father Datuk Sri Lim Bock Seng, who started the company with two lorries transporting sand and stone.

By 1975, the company had begun trying its hand at odd construction jobs.

“We were just a small contractor. We were the contractor for the Chinese embassy in Jalan Ampang.

I always say the wife, the spouse or the brothers can work in a company, but not in management

“Then in 1986, we were building houses for [my father’s] friends and found that collection was really bad. They didn’t pay. Then we thought, instead of doing construction, why don’t we focus on development instead?” he said.

The rest as they cliché goes, is history.

Today, LBS Bina is a property conglomerate with a market cap of RM1.6 billion. Last year, it recorded sales of RM1.4 billion. This year, it has 22 ongoing projects and 3,856 acres of landbank.

But getting there as a family run business has surely been a unique journey compared to a normal company.

Lim revealed how he even had to be at odds with his father with the direction he was taking the company.

“I am the Managing Director, my three brothers Executive Directors and my father is the Chairman. But we don’t run like a family-run business, we have a board. Everything will be a collective effort.

“At first the old man wasn’t very happy. He said I’m the father, you should listen to me.

“I said no, we listen to the board,” said Lim.

He said such disagreements can also be long-standing.

“Only 10 years ago did he come to me and said 'son you’re doing the right thing'”, he recalled.

I asked him how he’ll ensure that LBS Bina does not slip into the trap that so many family run businesses have fallen into: nepotism.

“For me, what’s important is the leader. And I always say the wife, the spouse or the brothers can work in a company, but not in management. They cannot decide anything, and they cannot come and interfere,” he said.

In the video above, LBS Bina Group Managing Director Tan Sri Lim Hock San also shares his thoughts of the government’s freeze on projects worth above RM1 million and how he thinks local developers can build more affordable homes.

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