MANY BUSINESSES IN BERMUDA HAVE BEEN OPEN FOR GENERATIONS. The cornerstone to any good business is simple: family. According to the Harvard Business Review, family businesses “account for more than 30 percent of all companies [in the world], with sales in excess of $1 billion.” And in Bermuda, family is king. Gosling’s is a Bermuda institution; and it all came to fruition here in 1806. Currently into their eighth generation in the business, eight family members contribute to the success of Gosling’s. “Being the second most isolated island in the world always helps,” says Charles Gosling. He’s convinced that Bermuda’s protective overview for Bermuda companies — to trade in Bermuda, the company has to be locally registered and have a beneficial ownership of 60 percent Bermudian — helps keep the family tradition alive. “In other islands the owner lives on the mainland,” Gosling notes. “There is no emotional connection or daily interaction with fellow islanders. They see an island as a means, whereas we always see our island as the end — the objective.” Crisson Jewellers started quite similarly. Though the Crisson family has been in Bermuda since 1720, it wasn’t until 1922 that they decided to open up shop here. The business, now run by the grandchildren, Peter and Andrew, currently has four family members involved in daily operations. Renowned for its world-class collections of fine watches and jewellery, Crisson Jewellers is the Official Rolex Retailer in Bermuda and the exclusive agent for sought-after names like David Yurman, Roberto Coin, John Hardy and more. What’s more, Crisson’s designers have also created their own unique interpretations of Bermuda-inspired mementoes, to keep the island tradition alive. Somers Cooper continues that fine family tradition at A.S. Cooper & Sons, which has been open since 1897. “I’m proud to be at the helm of a great legacy,” he says. “My great-grandfather’s entrepreneurial spirit and the retail and life lessons taught to me by my father and grandfather are alive and well.” Originally a general store, Cooper’s has evolved into Bermuda’s premier purveyor of clothing, china, fragrances, fine jewellery and more, with six shops around the island. Established in 1844, Bluck’s has a different kind of story. For the first 100 years, Bluck’s sold almost every commodity, but mainly hardware. It wasn’t until 100 years later that Leslie Darling purchased the store and changed the focus to a high-end speciality store, selling the finest British and European china, crystal, silver, enamels and antiques. “My grandfather bought the Bluck’s business in 1942 and ran it with my grandmother,” says current caretaker of Bluck’s, Peter Darling. Bluck’s expanded to five stores once it became a family business. In the 1960s, Bluck’s sold the world’s largest mail order of Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates — more than 10,000 sold each year. “Everyone’s name was kept on a Rolodex, and each person received two handwritten letters a year,” says Darling. “Good customer service is and always will be the saviour of any retail business, be it by pen and ink or by e-mail and Tweet.” Peter Darling joined the family business in 1988, after a decade spent working in hotel management. He’s been there ever since. “[Bermuda] remains a fertile place for family-run businesses because deep down we are a very independent-minded people,” Darling says. “[We] value our freedom, trust our instincts and look ahead.” Other local family businesses that have been around for generations include Astwood Dickinson, The Birdsey Studio and Burrows, Lightbourn Limited.
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