The Pon family got its start in 1867 with a small store near Amsterdam that sold soap, sewing machines and tobacco. Today, five generations later, it’s a major retailer of Volkswagen AG cars and Caterpillar Inc. equipment, among other businesses.

Their closely held firm, Pon Holdings, is worth about $6.4 billion after recently reporting 2021 revenue of 8.1 billion euros ($8.5 billion), the highest in at least five years. They’re among the richest families in the Netherlands, along with those behind beermaker Heineken Holding NV and clothing retailer C&A.

To help manage their fortune, the Pons last year set up a family office, Knop Investments, and are building out its management. Maurits Koning joined in 2021 as a director from an investment unit of Pon Holdings, while Lennart Klooster was hired in April as a finance director from the family office of the owners of construction giant VolkerWessels. Eric-Jan Vink, former head of private equity at Dutch pension fund administrator PGGM, started this month as a director.

Family offices have boomed in number over the past two decades as discrete businesses focused on preserving the fortunes of the world’s ultra-rich. Many are as sophisticated in their operations as institutional firms, frequently investing in venture capital, real estate and private equity.

Koning worked at Pon Holdings’s venture arm, Ponooc, for about seven years before joining Knop. Ponooc's recent investments include stakes in London-based insurance technology firm Laka, Vienna-based cycling start-up Bikemap and Dutch fleet-management business Orion.

A representative for Knop declined to comment, while Pon Holdings didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.

The Pons expanded their retail business to sell bicycles around 1900 and became the sole agent for Opel cars in the Netherlands about three decades later.

Ben Pon Senior, part of the dynasty’s third generation, helped to create the Volkswagen camper van, after touring a VW production facility in Wolfsburg in 1947 and seeing how Beetle chasses were being used to transport heavy objects. His sketches for a bus prototype would come to life three years later.

The family began importing Volkswagens soon after the end of World War II and eventually added Audi, Skoda, Bugatti, Bentley and Lamborghini to the company’s portfolio.

The family’s firm says it now imports one of every five cars in the Netherlands, along with selling Caterpillar marine engines and excavators.

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