Under the leadership of Lee Gun Hee, his father's company has grown from a noodle business into a multi-billion dollar business empire.
Today we know Samsung as one of the leading South Korean chaebols, large financial and industrial conglomerates, which largely determined the post-war development of the South Korean economy. And one of the most important roles in the development of the company was played by its head and the son of the founder, Lee Gon Hee, who died on October 25 at the age of 78. The head of Samsung was considered a visionary whose approach to doing business and leading people turned the company into a conglomerate with an asset value of $375 billion as of May 2020.
Lee Gun Hee took over the company in 1987, inheriting it from his late father. The businessman managed to bring the corporation, which started with the sale of various groceries, including noodles, to a higher level. Today, Samsung is engaged not only in electronics, although in this area the brand is most recognizable by consumers, but also in insurance, construction, the creation of military equipment and many other areas.
One of the reasons for Samsung's success was Lee Gong Hee's personal focus on product quality. By taking over a company that made cheap TVs that were not of the highest quality and were not in high demand on the market, he did everything to break this trend and refocus Samsung Electronics on quality over quantity.
There are legends in the company about how Lee Gun Hee called the company's top management on a "tour" to an American electronics supermarket to show them a Samsung TV, sadly standing in the corner, which cost $100 less than its more successful competitor from Sony. And in the 90s, he recalled substandard mobile phones and faxes worth about $50 million and personally set fire to them in a demonstration action.
Also, a feature of his leadership style was maintaining a sense of constant crisis within the company, which, according to Lee Gong Hee, did not allow management to rest on their laurels and relax. Perhaps someone did not like his harsh demeanor, but it definitely gave its results. In 2013, Forbes even named Lee Gun Hee the second most powerful person in South Korea, with Ban Ki-moon, who at that time served as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, ranked first.
However, the reign was not cloudless, in 2008, Lee Gun Hee was found guilty of tax evasion and embezzlement. He apologized and resigned, but returned two years later after receiving a presidential pardon.
In recent years, the head of Samsung has become less involved in the affairs of the company due to poor health and promoted his son Lee Jae-yong to senior positions in the company and to the role of its de facto leader. And it seems that the future of a powerful corporation is in good hands.