Thursday, December 19, 2013

Working for Old Companies

I just returned from visiting my parents (who are in their 80s and living in Florida).  Though my father has been retired for many years, the visit reminded me that my work background must have subconsciously influenced my research on old companies.  For all but two years of his life, my father worked for and then owned a small, country bank.  I worked there during high school - the beginning of what turned out to be a career of working for 100-year old companies: they were proud of the fact that - despite an armed bank robbery and the great depression - this little bank had always been open for their customers.   It was only when I was preparing a presentation for the Forbes/IBM conference a few years ago that I realized every organization I had worked for during my 45-year career is over 100 years old:  The Bank of Birnamwood (now Banner Banks but still independently owned); The Bank of Madison (subsequently M&I Bank, unfortunately a casualty of the recent financial crisis); Bunte's Pharmacy (a college gig - great fun working the soda fountain); General Electric; Herman Miller, Inc.; and now Hope College.  Given my research that has shown how the organizations that have survived for over 100 years tend to exhibit behaviors focused on building relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, and their communities, I feel privileged to have had such positive work experiences.  As we prepare to enter a new year, my wish is for more organizations to understand and begin to model the behaviors the old companies embody.  These companies are national treasures I feel we should honor - they deserve more attention and appreciation than our country gives them (as compared to Japan, where old companies are such treasured institutions they even have a name for them: shinise.)  So next year I will dedicate this blog and my twitter entrees (@vtenhaken) to profiles of our 100-year-old companies.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Michigan Companies Over 100 Years Old: The "Michigan Century Club"

Over the summer I posted on Twitter 100 companies in Michigan that are over 100 years old.  My hope is that we can convince Governor Snyder to start a "Century Club" honoring these businesses that have helped keep our state's economy running through good times and bad.  Here, in alphabetical order, is my list of the Michigan 100 over 100.  Let's celebrate them!

Acme Mfg.                             1910                             Auburn Hills
American Seating                    1886                             Grand Rapids
Armstrong Int’l                                                            Three Rivers                 5th gen
Bahle’s (dept. store)                1876                             Suttons Bay                             
Bauer’s Jewelry                      1891                             Saginaw
Bissel                                      1889                             Grand Rapids
Bond Decorating                     1891                             Iron Mtn.
Brammal Industrial Supply      1873                              Benton Harbor
Buchley’s Shoes                     1894                              Bad Axe                       4th gen
Buis Mattress                          1913                              Holland
Bulman Products                    1905                              Grand Rapids              
Carhartt                                  1889                              Dearborn
Cascarellis Restaurant              1909                             Albion                          4th gen
Central Michigan Paper           1885                              Ada
Chelsea Lumber Co.                1908                             Chelsea
Chelsea Milling                                                              Chelsea
Chris Engel’s Greenhouse        1883                              Detroit
Corbishley’s Clothing              1876                               Bad Axe                       4th gen
Crandill Funeral Homes            1902                            Fremont, White Cloud
Daniel Orr Sons Hardware       1875                             North Branch
Dekker’s Jewelry                                                          Zeeland
Detroit Store Fixture Co.          1898                             Detroit
DeVries Jewelers                     1901                             Grand Rapids
DeWitt Barrels                         1893                             Marne
Dickenson’s Hardware            1876                             Fennville
Diltrich Furs                             1893                             Detroit
Doncker’s Candies & Gifts      1896                      Marquette
Dykstra Funeral                                                            Holland
Ebonex Corp.                          1878                            Detroit Area
Edge- Sweets (ESCO)             1887                            Grand Rapids
Eikenhout, Inc.                         1894                            Grand Rapids
Ford Motor Co.                       1903                            Dearborn
Frankenmuth News                  1906                            Frankenmuth
Fris Office Outfitters                 1900                            Holland                           5th gen
Fritz Family Restaurant             1902                            Richville                        5th gen
GB Russo & Son               1905                           Grand Rapids  
Getz Dept. Store                       1880’s                         Marquette
Gilbert Chocolates                                                        Jackson
Golden Shoes                                                               Traverse City
Gordon Food Service                 1897                          Grand Rapids  
Graafscap Hardware                  1869                            Holland           
Groskopf’s Luggage                                                      Grand Rapids
Harley Ellis Devereaux               1908                            Southfield                    
Henry the Hatter                         1893                            Detroit
Herman’s Boy (Coffee Roaster) 1901                            Rockford
Herman Miller Inc.                      1905                            Zeeland                       
Herter Music                               1903                            Bay City
Hoekstra’s Hardware                  1867                            Kalamazoo
Homer Monumental Works         1889                            Homer
Holland Peanut Store                   1902                            Holland                        5th gen
Independent Bank Corp               1864                            Ionia
Irwin Sealing                                                                    Grand Rapids
Jesperson’s Restaurant & Pie Shoppe 1903              Petoskey
Johnson’s Studio Camera             1892                            Cheboygan                   4th gen
Kelloggs                                        1906                           Battle Creek
Kindel Furniture                             1901                           Grand Rapids
Koeze Co.                                     1910                           Grand Rapids
Kositchek’s                                   1865                            Lansing
Krzyske Bros Co.                          1890                           Monroe, Waltz
Langeland- Sterenlseng Funeral                                          Holland
Lokers Shoes                                 1913                            Holland
Mapes Furniture                            1892                             St. Ignace
Martins Shoe House                       1846                            Monroe                                   
Masters LaLonde Shoes                 1879                            Alpena
McClillan’s Frankenmuth Woolen Mill  1894                      Frankenmuth
Metcaff & Gonkhoff Funeral          1894                     Grand Rapids               5th gen
Michigan Ladder                                                                Ypsilanti
Milkins Jewelers                            1905                             Wyandotte                   4th gen
Model Drug & Apothecary Shop                                 Holland
Moore & Carter Lumber       1904                              Sandusky,  Croswell
Mosher’s Jewelers                         1898                            Port Huron                   4th gen 
Murphy & Caris (Law Firm)        1905                       Fremont                                  
Nouman Corp. Dist. Center                                               Bay City
Oliver Products                              1890                            Grand Rapids              
Padnos                                                                               Holland                        4th gen
Palmer Auto Svc.                                                               Frankenmuth
Perrigo                                            1887                           Allegan
Pomeroy Funeral Home                  1890                           Croswell
Power’s Clothing                            1892                            Jonesville
Raymond Hardware                        1850                            Port Sanilac
Reusch Jewelers                              1885                            Cheboygan                   4th gen
Schaefer Bierleen Cars                     1852                            Frankenmuth                6th gen
Sempliner’s Bride & Formal                                          Bay City
Sieb Plumbing, Heating & A/C  1868                            Monroe                                   
Siegel Jewelers                                1889                            Grand Rapids
Skaff Carpet & Furniture          1911                            Flint
Smith Floral & Greenhouse                                           Lansing
Star of the West Milling Co.             1840’s                         Frankenmuth
Steelcase                                                                             Grand Rapids                          
Steven’s Van Lines                          1905                            Saginaw               4th &  5th gen
Sunnyside Florist                                                                 Owosso
Superior Sports Store                       1909                            Holland                        4th gen 
The Standard Companies                                                     West Michigan            
The Yale Expositor                           1882                           Yale
Vail Rubber Company                       1904                           St. Joseph
Varnum                                              1888                          Grand Rapids        
Vredeveld Shoes                                                                  Fremont
West Branch Flour Mill                     1892                           West Branch   
Whirlpool                                           1911                          St. Joe                         
Willis Sausage Co.                                                               Frankenmuth
Winglemire Furniture                        1858                            Holly
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing           1905                            Grand Rapids
Wolverine Worldwide                       1883                            Rockford         
WW Fairbairn & Sons              1890’s                         Alanson
Yaeger’s Shoes                                 1846                            Monroe                        5th gen
Zeeland Print Shop                           1908                            Zeeland                        4th gen

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Michigan 100

I am nearing the end of my Twitter entries of #100over100: Michigan companies over 100 years old.  Several furniture manufacturers, five funeral homes, five hardware stores, six jewelry stores and seven shoe stores!  I didn't realize it when I started, but there are exactly 100 Michigan companies on my list of  businesses over 100 years old that I can verify.  I do have several more names, but cannot find websites, newspaper articles or other confirmation that they are still in business.  So next week (after we hit the 100 mark) I will post the full list on my blog and if anyone knows of Michigan companies that have been in continuous operation for over 100 years and are not on the list, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

First Stage Research Paper to be Published!

Today I received notice that the first paper we wrote analyzing the comparative research on 100 year old Japanese and U.S. companies will be published in the Journal of Social Sciences in October.  Once I have the specifics I will post the link to the online version of the journal for those who are interested.

Next week my research partner, Makoto Kanda, will be coming to Holland, MI from Japan and we will work on our next paper, which will go into more detail regarding the statistically significant comparative results.  Excited to be at this stage of the research and look forward to sharing the results.  I believe they are very interesting:  it is clear that the leaders of these 'old' companies see their job as one of stewardship, making sure the company succeeds in order to pass it on to the next generation.  With this as the primary objective, their business decisions are somewhat different from generally accepted management theory.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

100 over 100 on Twitter

In June I stated a new line on Twitter, #100over100, to highlight Michigan companies that are over 100 years old.  I started with companies in West Michigan and should make it up to 40 with these.  Then I will branch out to other Michigan companies until I reach 100.  Right now, however, I only have around 75 Michigan companies in my national data base of companies over 100, so if you know of any please let me know.  It is particularly difficult to identify small, privately-owned companies unless you live in the area and are familiar with them.  When I'm finished, I plan to contact our governor to see if I can convince him to start the kind of "Century Club" that is in place in some other states. (Each year the governor in these states holds a ceremony for all companies over 100, with a special welcome to those just hitting the centennial mark.)

I love seeing new companies start and entrepreneurship is certainly an important part of our state's economic recovery.  But I also want us to recognize the amazing achievement of those firms that have survived world wars, economic depression, globalization, huge changes in technology, and major socio-cultural changes to serve their customers, provide jobs, and add vibrancy to their local communities for over 100 years.  So check out my twitter (@vtenhaken) and see how many companies you recognize - some are well-known public companies, though most are small, family-owned firms.

Monday, June 3, 2013

100 Year Old Companies Are Built on Relationships

One of the results of our research on old companies in Japan is the emphasis they place on relationships.  They value and work at maintaining long-term relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, other business partners and their local communities. Whenever presenting this information at conferences, the response we often received was "Well, that's's a cultural thing." There was much skepticism about whether we would find similar results in other cultures.  However, when talking to CEOs of U.S. companies that have survived for over 100 years they echoed the importance of relationships, so we decided to use the same survey administered in Japan to find out how old U.S. companies responded.  We have now collected enough surveys, completed our initial analysis, and are in the process of writing up the results.  My research partner, Makoto Kanda, will be coming to the U.S. in August so we can discuss the statistical data and draw conclusions.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I have started to tweet a list of local companies that have thrived for over 100 years (#100over100 @vtenhaken if you're interested).

Friday, April 19, 2013

65 Surveys Completed

Thank you to all those 100-year-old U.S. companies that have filled out surveys for my research!  We are now in the process of tabulating the responses and will compare them to responses from old Japanese companies.  So far it looks like there are many similarities, but we will need to conduct statistical analysis to test for significance.