Monday, April 16, 2018

Survival Is The Ultimate Performance Measure


In my humble opinion....I would love to do a brief pitch on PBS' News Hour IMHO about corporate longevity. Think about it: businesses that are still operating after 100 years have survived world wars, economic depressions and recessions, globalization, technology advances that have obsoleted whole industries, massive changes in legal, social and cultural norms...and yet they thrive. Shouldn't we celebrate them? These are the best of business - companies who care about their customers, employees, business partners, and communities - they wouldn't have survived without their web of support and they know it. Many are family owned, most are small to medium sized businesses. These are they type of companies that form the core of our economy, yet are mostly overlooked in our media and business education. At least 1,000 U.S. companies are over 100 years old (I call them Century Club Companies).  Help me highlight these special firms.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

14 U.S. Companies Celebrate 125 Years in Business



The year was 1893. The World's Fair opened to the public in Chicago. The crash of the New York Stock Exchange caused the Panic of 1893, triggering an economic depression. And these companies were founded and managed to survive other depressions as well as world wars and many other challenges. Here's to the 14 survivors of 1893!

Capitol Federal Financial, Topeka KS, Banking and finance

Dittrich Furs, Detroit MI, 5th generation, Retail apparel

General Employment Enterprises*, Naperville IL, Employment agency

Green Mountain Inn, Stowe VT, Accommodation services

Henderson Brothers, Pittsburgh PA, Insurance agency

Henry the Hatter, Detroit MI, Retail apparel

The Little Shamrock, San Francisco CA, Restaurant and bar

Modell Financial, New York City NY, Pawn broker, 4th generation

Schroeder's, San Francisco CA, Restaurant and bar

Stewart Information Services*, Houston TX, 5th generation management, Real estate title insurance

Trimpers Rides, Ocean City MD, 4th generation, Amusement park

Vienna Beef, Chicago IL, Food products

West Bancorp*,  West Des Moines IA, Banking and finance

ZR Graphics, Zeeland MI, 4th generation, Printing services

* Public company; all others are privately-owned

Monday, March 19, 2018

18 Companies Celebrate 120 Years in Business



At least eighteen U.S. companies are celebrating being in business for 120 years in 2018.  In 1898 William McKinley was president and the Spanish-American war began. These companies have survived several other wars as well as economic depression, globalization, huge advances in technology, and major changes in legal, social, and cultural norms. Join me in congratulating these amazing firms:

American Nickeloid, Peru IL - Metal products

Bank of England, England AR - Banking & finance

Bank of Gravett, Gravett AR - Banking & finance, 4th generation

Bechtel, San Francisco CA - Construction & engineering, 5th generation

Detroit Store Fixture, Detroit MI - Store fixtures & accessories

Eaton Funeral Home, Sullivan MO - Funeral services

Goodyear Tire & Rubber*, Akron OH - Manufacture tires

International Paper*, Memphis TN - Paper products

J. Elmer Turner Realtors, Dallas TX - Real estate, 5th generation

J Palazzo Son, New Hyde Part NY - Perfume manufacture, 3rd generation

Mosher's Jewelers, Port Huron MI - Retail jeweler, 4th generation

Old Print Shop, New York NY - Retail art, 3rd generation

Rambusch Lighting, Jersey City NJ - Lighting manufacturer, 4th generation

Thomas Publishing, New York City NY - Business information publisher

Vita Food Products, Chicago IL - Seafood & specialty foods

Warnock Furniture, Magnolia AR - Retail furniture, 5th generation

Weldon, Williams & Lick, Fort Smith AR - Printer (tickets)

Worksman Cycles, Ozone Park NY - Bicycle manufacturing

* Publicly traded company (all others are privately-owned)




Thursday, January 25, 2018

150 Year Anniversary Celebrations for Nine U.S. Companies in 2018



Century Club congratulations go out to nine companies founded in 1868 and celebrating 150 years in business this year. All are privately-owned, and six of the nine are generational family businesses. Five are services companies (two banking; one funeral home; one plumbing, heating & A/C; and one photography). Two are retail businesses (a bakery and a paint store); and two are manufacturers (one of building products and one food products). 150 years of continuous operation is an amazing feat - please join me to celebrating the following companies:

Bachrach Photography, New York City, NY (and other locations). Their founder took the only photo of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and has photographed every U.S. head of state since. 4th generation.

Benjamin Obdyke Inc. Horsham, PA (Philadelphia suburb). A leading supplier of building moisture management products, ridge vents, and rain screens.

Budeke's Paints & Decorating, Baltimore, MD. One of the oldest independent paint retailers in the U.S. now run by 5th generation family.

Citizen's National Bank of Texas, Waxahachie, TX (and 8 other Texas locations). CNB claims to be the third oldest independent bank in Texas. Now run by 4th generation of the Singleton family.

Gorham Savings Bank, Gorham, ME. Commitment to community (one of the 5 key longevity factors exhibited by Century Club companies) is deeply ingrained in this locally owned and operated bank. Their motto: "It's not how big your bank is. It's how much your bank believes in you."

McIlhenny Company, Avery Island, LA. You know them for their Tabasco sauce (longevity factor #2 is having a unique core strength - literally a secret sauce for the McIlhenny's), they are now run by 6th generation family.

Naegelin's Bakery, New Braunfels, TX. Claims to be the oldest continuously operating bakery in Texas, it is now run by 2nd generation Granzin family, who took over from the 3rd generation Naegelins in the 1980s. They they kept the Naegelins' recipes (their secret sauce) and are especially proud of their famous apple strudel.

Proctor Funeral Home, Camden, AR. They don't say much about themselves, but the reviews talk about the "helpful and caring people, especially in a difficult time" and describe it as the best funeral home in the area.

Sieb Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, Monroe, MI. Claiming to be the oldest family-owned plumbing and heating company in the United States, this 5th generation business does residential and commercial projects.

Congratulations to all nine companies - and best wishes for at least another 50 years to celebrate 200 years!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Two Firms Celebrate 175 Years in 2018


The year is 1843. John Tyler was President of the United States (the Vice President post was vacant). Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" is published. The first major wagon train headed for the American Northwest set out in May from Missouri with over 1,000 pioneers. And the John Baumann Safe Company was established in St. Louis. Now in its 5th generation of family ownership and still providing residential, commercial, and automotive locksmith needs in addition to safes and security systems. In line with many other Century Club Companies, they say it is their "personal service, experience, and long-term relationships" that have enabled them to succeed for 175 years.


Another company that began in 1843 and has lasted to celebrate their 175 anniversary in 2018 is Frederick Mutual Insurance Company of Maryland. Before there were insurance companies, communities realized that neighbors needed to band together to protect each other from fire loss. This "mutual" concern and cooperation was the driving force behind the establishment of companies such as Frederick Mutual. By sharing in the protection risk, generations of individuals and businesses are able to insure their homes and businesses. Owned by the policy holders, this unique form of business  has enabled Frederick Mutual's survival over the long term. As they state on their website: "Since 1843 the founding principle of our company has been Peace of Mind. We are still here for the benefit of the public and are owned by our policyholders."


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

U.S. Businesses Celebrate 200 Years


Our country will be over 240 years old in 2018 and there are some U.S. companies that have been in business almost as long. Congratulations on proving that "survival is the ultimate performance measure!"

200 Years: Eaton Funeral Homes, Needham, MA - 6th generation funeral home founded 1818

205 Years: Cooper, Erving and Savage (law firm), Albany, NY - founded by a son of James Fenimore Cooper in 1813

220 Years: Alan McIlvain (Pennsylvania) and J. Gibson McIlvain (Maryland) - 7th generation lumber companies founded by Hugh McIlvain in 1798


Thursday, December 21, 2017

52 U.S. Companies Celebrated 100 Years in Business in 2017


As 2017 comes to a close, it's time to celebrate the companies who turned 100 this year. This is an amazing accomplishment - less than 1/2 of 1% of companies in the U.S. are 100 years or older. Interesting to note, over 92% of the companies hitting the century mark this year are private and 65% are still in the same family: 14 third generation, 16 fourth generation, and one run by 5th generation family.

The largest industry category for these new Century Club members is retail, at 38.5% (including restaurants and bars); 19% manufacturing; 17% services; 5% wholesale; and a few in architecture/construction or transportation.

Here is the list! (Please post a comment if you know a company celebrating 100 years in business in 2017 that is not mentioned here.)


Acme Group Bloomfield Hills MI
American Coney Island Detroit MI
Belair Road Supply Baltimore MD
Bob Ward's Sports & Outdoors Missoula MT
Books-A-Million Birmingham AL
Brown's Automotive Group Patchogue NY
California Cedar Products Co Stockton CA
Capel Rugs Troy NC
Carolina Beverage Corporation Salisbury NC
Central Grocers Joliet IL
Century Fence Pewaukee WI
Chicago Clock Co Clarendon Hills IL
Chris' Hotdogs Montgomery AL
Christie's Seafood & Steaks Houston TX
City Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Norman OK
Collier Durg Stores Fayettville AR
Cooper's Foods Chaska MN
Crystal Plaza Group Livingston NJ
E.W. Smith Insurance Agency Wyandotte MI
Eide Bailly Fargo ND
Fellowes Brands Itasca IL
G&L Clothing Des Moines IA
Goudy Brothers Boiler Company Kokomo IN
HDR, Inc. Omaha NE
Heiser Automotive Milwaukee WI
LEWCO Sandusky OH
Liberty Store Auburn NY
McCurry Furniture Warrior AL
Meloro & Sons North Arlington NJ
Mrs. Sassard's North Charleston SC
Omaha Steaks Omaha NE
O'Neill Plumbing Seattle WA
Oshkosh Corp Oshkosh WI
Parker Hannifin Cleveland OH
Perona Farms Andover NJ
Perry's Market Norwood NY
Puritan Backroom Manchester NH
Radio Flyer Chicago IL
Rainbow Bakery Cranston RI
RMX Freight Systems Roseville OH
Rulli Brothers Youngstown OH
San Antonio Winery Los Angeles CA
SpartanNash Byron Center MI
Stanco Metal Products Grand Haven MI
Sterling Grocery  Princeton WV
Sunsweet Growers Yuba City CA
Todaro Bros. New York City NY
Vinson & Elkins Houston TX
Washington Federal Seattle WA
Wm. Miller's Sons Allison Park PA
Wolverine Mutual Insurance Dowagiac MI
Ziker Cleaners Mishawaka IN