Lee Byung-Chull, founder of Samsung

In 1938 Lee founded the Samsung Trading Company which was the grounding stone of his soon-to-be empire. He was born 1910 in Uiryeong in Korea and his first attempt as an entrepreneur was in 1936 when he founded a rice mill which didn’t go very well. His second attempt, the Samsung Trading Company which traded with fruits, fish and vegetables was more successful. This is rather surprising under the conditions of firstly the Japanese rule, then the chaotic after-war time and the division of Korea into a Soviet and an American controlled part and finally the consequent Korean War, which took place from 1950 – 1953.

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But this is the crucial point of Lee Byung-Chull. He was a very strong supporter of the nation and his main purpose was to strengthen the nation Korea. According to him, to build up a country you have to build up its economy and this is exactly what he did. He concentrated on the fields of economy which were necessary to develop the nation’s economy. He started with producing substitutes for imported goods like sugar and textiles – Cheil Sugar Co. and Cheil Textiles – which were basic, home-produced goods. A known statement of Lee is, that ‘this will build domestic industries, provide a stable supply of inexpensive goods, and offer more jobs to people as well as contribute to the nation’s technological development and expansion of industrial activities.’

The quote shows, that Lee’s primary goal was not to earn money but to establish national wealth which in retrospect, was the key of his success. Over the time Lee founded several divisions in a wide range of economic fields and in the late 1960’s he started the electronic branches, which would later become the most important section of the Samsung group. Why Lee Byung-Chull was such a successful businessman can be explained by his philosophy. It consists of three basic motivations; ”engaging in business for national service”, ”man and talent first” and ”pursuit of logic and reality”. Later it was enlarged to five principles and nowadays it is called the ‘Samsung spirit’. ‘

‘Engaging in business for national service” summarizes what was already discussed earlier. ”Man and talent first” is probably the most important explanation for Lee’s success. He never employed people because of their simple manpower simultaneously seeing them as machines, but he searched their special talents, trained them and gave them responsibilities. The third aspect of his philosophy ”pursuit of logic and reality” is something which should be essential but which in reality is often absent. Lee once said, that logic and reality ” [] enables [you] to cut costs and produce affordable and good quality products.

This is why it is always important to introduce systems from advanced nations and develop technologies, which are critical to improving business management”. It not only helped Samsung to work rational and efficient but also freed it from illogical domestic or personal connections. Another aspect of Lee’s way of managing was the importance of good quality and a trustful relationships with the suppliers. For him it is essential that his product will be perfect and he put a great deal of effort into this goal.

All these pieces of his philosophy make him a pioneer of an entrepreneur whilst also an exceptional good entrepreneur. He focuses on a straight line and knows what is important to succeed in business. He is reliable and trustable – you can be sure about the quality of the products he establishes and confident in his companies. This is why doing business with Lee Byung-Chull is not only recommendable but also highly promising. Lee Byung-Chull can be seen as a typical entrepreneur. He is at the same time the organizer of a factory, to a certain degree the owner of the factory, a risk-taker and a visionary and innovator who leads the company. He is the one who initially created the Samsung Trading Company and later established the Samsung Group with its gigantic network of divisions.

When Lee died in 1987 Samsung and the world lost a great entrepreneur who actively interacted and shaped the business world of today. His once revolutionary ways of leading his company became the model of today’s entrepreneurship.


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