Monday, July 11, 2016

Ag Co-Ops Defy Survival Odds

For any business to operate for over a century is an amazing accomplishment, given all the economic, social, cultural, and technological changes that occur over 100 years. Though century cooperatives are still fairly rare, accounting for about 6% of the USDA's entire list of agricultural co-ops, this percentage is much higher than the number of for-profit businesses reaching the 100 year milestone (approximately 0.01%). The number of cooperatives reaching the century milestone stands at over 130 and is steadily increasing. It has been said that survival is the ultimate performance measure. One possibility for the stellar performance of coops compared to other businesses may be that they form and operate according to the principles my research has identified as leading to long-term success: clear mission, unique strengths, close relationships with all business partners, and active members of their local communities. 

According to the USDA, here is a list of ag co-ops celebrating at least 100 years of operation:

1887  First Cooperative Association, Cherokee, IA  Grain & Oilseed
1889  Goodwine Cooperative Grain Company, Goodwine, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1889  Rock Dell Cooperative Creamery Company, Byron, MN  Dairy
1890  River Region Cooperative, Sleepy Eye, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1891  Lawrence County Co-op Wool Growers Association, Pulaski, PA  Wool
1893  Sunkist Growers Inc, Sherman Oaks, CA  Fruit & Vegetable
1894  Dassel Cooperative Dairy Association, Dassel, MN  Supply
1894  Nelson Creamery Association, Nelson, MN  Dairy
1894  Nelson & Albin Co-op Mercantile Association, Saint James, MN  Supply
1895  Stanford Grain Company, Stanford, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1896  Calhoun Cooperative Creamer Company, Lansing IA  Dairy
1897  Fillmore-Piru Citrus Association, Piru, CA  Fruit & Vegetable
1899  Farmers' Grain & Coal Company, Mason City, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1899  Nassau Farmers Elevator Company, Nassau, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1899  Plainview Mild Products Cooperative, Plainview, MN  Dairy
1901  Delphos Cooperative Association, Delphos, KS  Supply
1902  Elba Cooperative Creamery Association, Elba, MN  Dairy
1902  Southern Plains Coop, Lewis, KS  Grain & Oilseed
1903  Farmers Cooperative, Dorchester, NE  Grain & Oilseed
1903  Farmers Cooperative Association, Eustis, NE  Grain & Oilseed
1903  Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company, Rushford, MN  Supply
1903  Golden Belt Cooperative Association Inc, Ellis, KS  Grain & Oilseed
1903  Grainland Cooperative, Eureka, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1903  Graymont Cooperative Association, Graymont, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1903  Westby Cooperative Creamery, Westby, WI  Dairy
1904  Clark County Famers Elevator, Clark, SD  Grain & Oilseed
1904  Danvers Farmers Elevator Company, Danvers, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1904  Farmers Lumber Company, Rock Valley, IA  Supply
1904  Garden Valley Cooperative, Waumandee, WI  Supply
1904  Harvest Land Cooperative, Morgan, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1904  Ludlow Cooperative Elevator Company, Ludlow, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1905  Agfinity Inc, Eaton, CO  Supply
1905  Earlville Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company, Earlville, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1905  Farmers Cooperative Ag Service, Greenbush, MN  Supply
1905  Farmers Elevator Company, Pelican Rapids, MN  Supply
1905  Meadowland Farmers Cooperative, Lamberton, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1905  Menno Lumber Company, Menno, SD  Supply
1905  Rose Cooperative Creamery Association, Eagle Bend, MN  Supply
1905  Rothsay farmers Cooperative, Rothsay, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1905  Valley Creamery Association, Garfield, MN  Dairy
1905  Wheaton-Dumont Cooperative Elevator, Wheaton, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1906  Cooperative Elevator Association, Ocheyedan, IA  Grain & Oilseed
1906  Cooperative Producers Inc, Hastings, NE  Grain & Oilseed
1906  Hadley Farmers Elevator, Hadley, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1906  River Valley Cooperative, Eldridge, IA  Grain & Oilseed
1907  Archer Cooperative Grain Company, Archer, IA  Grain & Oilseed
1907  Blue Star Growers Inc, Cashmere, WA  Fruit & Vegetable
1907  Carrier Mill and Elevator Company, Carrier, OK  Grain & Oilseed
1907  Farmers Coop Elevator Company, Kingsley, IA  Grain & Oilseed
1907  Farmers Cooperative Society, Sioux Center, IA  Grain & Oilseed
1907  Fosston Cooperative Association, Fosston, MN  Supply
1907  Fruit Growers Supply Company, Sherman Oaks, CA  Supply
1907  Minier Cooperative Grain Company, Minier, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1907  North Central Cooperative, Clarion, IA  Grain & Oilseed
1907  Swanville Cooperative Creamery Association, Swanville, MN  Dairy
1908  Aurora Cooperative Elevator Company, Aurora, NE  Grain & Oilseed
1908  Bongards Creameries, Bongards, MN  Dairy
1908  Central Plains Co-op, Smith Center, KS  Grain & Oilseed
1908  Chapin Farmers Elevator Company, Chapin, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1908  Cissna Park Cooperative Inc, Cissna Park, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1908  Donovan Farmers Co-operative Elevator, Inc, Donovan IL  Grain & Oilseed
1908  Elm Dale Creamery Association, Bowlus, MN  Dairy
1908  Farmers Cooperative Creamery, Forreston, MN  Dairy
1908  Farmers Cooperative Creamery Association, Goodridge, MN  Supply
1908  Hull Cooperative Association, Hull, IA  Supply
1908  Midway Co-op Association, Osborne, KS  Grain & Oilseed
1908  Northern Partners Cooperative, Mendota, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1909  Burtonview Cooperative, Lincoln, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1909  Davenport Union Warehouse Company, Davenport, WA  Grain & Oilseed
1909  Edinburg Farmers Elevator Company, Edinburg, ND  Grain & Oilseed
1909  Farmers Elevator of Fergus Falls, Fergus Falls, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1909  FCA Co-op, Jackson, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1909  Haines City Citrus Growers Association, Haines City, FL  Fruit & Vegetable
1909  Lake Region Packing Association, Tavares, FL  Supply
1909  Odessa Union Warehouse Cooperative, Odessa, WA  Grain & Oilseed
1909  Osakis Creamery Association, Osakis, MS  Dairy
1909  Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative Inc, Genesee, ID  Grain & Oilseed
1909  Winter Haven Citrus Growers Association, Dundee, FL  Fruit & Vegetable
1909  Tillamook County Creamery Association, Tillamook, OR  Dairy
1910  Blue Diamond Growers, Sacramento, CA  Nut
1910  Colton Farmers Elevator, Colton, SD  Grain & Oilseed
1910  Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Ellsworth, WI  Dairy
1910  Farmers Cooperative Company, Remsen, IA  Grain & Oilseed
1910  Offerle Co-op Grain & Supply Company, Offerle, KS  Grain & Oilseed
1911  Brocket Equity Elevator Company, Brocket, ND  Grain & Oilseed
1911  Co-op Service Inc. of New York Mills, New York Mills, MN  Supply
1911  Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company, Nickerson, KS  Supply
1911  Farmers Union Mercantile & Shipping Association, Stockton, KS  Grain & Oilseed
1911  Farmway Co-op Inc, Beloit, KS  Supply
1911  Jewell Grain Company, Jewell, OH  Grain & Oilseed
1911  Kragnes Farmers Elevator Company, Glyndon, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1911  Max Farmers Elevator, Max, ND  Grain & Oilseed
1911  Medford Cooperative Inc, Medford, WI  Supply
1911  Milledgeville Farmers Elevator Company, Milledgeville, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1911  Tremont Cooperative Grain Company, Tremont, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1912  Ag Plus Inc, South Whitley, IN  Grain & Oilseed
1912  Equity Elevator & Trading Company, Wood Lake, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1912  Farmers Cooperative Company, Hinton, IA  Supply
1912  Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company, Hanley Falls, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1912  Gerald Grain Center Inc, Napoleon, OH  Grain & Oilseed
1912  Farmers Elevator Grain & Supply Association, New Bavaria, OH  Grain & Oilseed
1912  Fulton Farmers Elevator Company, Fulton, SD  Grain & Oilseed
1912  Kasbeer Farmers Elevator Company Cooperative, Kasbeer, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1912  Lakes Area Cooperative, Perham, MN  Dairy
1912  Minneola Coop Inc, Minneola, KS  Grain & Oilseed
1912  Newfolden Cooperative Elevator Association, Newfolden, MN  Grain & Oilseed
1913  AgFirst Farmers Cooperative, Brookings, SD  Grain & Oilseed
1913  Andres & Wilton Farmers Grain & Supply Co, Peotone, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1913  Blue Bird Inc, Peshastin, WA  Fruit
1913  Diamond Fruit Growers Inc, Odell, OR  Fruit & Vegetable
1913  Farmers Exchange of Goltry, Goltry, OK  Grain & Oilseed
1913  Forbes Equity Exchange, Forbes, ND  Grain & Oilseed
1913  Hastings Cooperative Creamery Company, Hastings, MN  Dairy
1913  Landisville Produce Cooperative Association Inc, Landisville, NJ  Fruit & Vegetable
1913  McNabb Grain Company Inc, McNabb, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1913  Rees Farmers Elevator, Franklin, IL  Grain & Oilseed
1913  Rule Co-op Gin & Elevator Company, Rule, TX  Cotton Ginning
1913  Saint Francis Mercantile Equity Exchange, Saint Francis, KS  Grain & Oilseed
1913  Sobieski Cooperative Creamery Association, Little Falls, MN  Dairy
1913  Thornwell Warehouse Association, Lake Arthur, LA  Supply
1914  Beardsley Equity Co-op Association Inc, Atwood, KS  Grain & Oilseed
1914  Butte County Rice Growers Association, Richvale, CA  Supply
1914  Farmers Cooperative Company, Tallmadge, NE  Grain & Oilseed
1914  Farmers Cooperative Company, Windsor, MO  Supply
1914  Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company, Rosholt, SD  Grain & Oilseed
1914  Farmers Cooperative Grain COmpany, Kinde, MI  Supply
1914  Fowler Equity Exchange, Fowler, KS  Grain & Oilseed
1914  Hardwick Farmers Cooperative Exchange, Hardwick, MA  Supply
1914  Hicksville Grain Company, Hicksville, OH  Grain & Oilseed
1914  MFA Incorporated, Columbia, MO  Supply
1914  Scranton Equity Exchange, Scranton, ND  Grain & Oilseed
1914  Waverly Growers Cooperative, Waverly, FL  Fruit & Vegetable

Monday, July 4, 2016

Century Club Companies Help You Celebrate July 4

Many of the traditions used to celebrate America's Independence Day are brought to you by companies that have been around for 100 years or more. Here are a few:

PyroSpectaculars by Souza 1906 Rialto, California

Beginning over 100 years ago and spanning five generations, the Souza family has been using their pyrotechnic skill to provide joy for their community and thrill crowds around the world. Long before the amazingly choreographed pyrotechnic displays for packed stadiums and television audiences today, the patriarch of the family was thrilling audiences closer to home. Today, the Souza family’s passion, pride, and tradition of fireworks continues to entertain millions around the world.

Nathan's Famous 1916 Jericho, New York

This Fourth of July people will gather by the thousands at the corner of Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island, NY to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Nathan’s Famous by playing witness to the most unique sporting competition in the world: Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. They’ll flock to Nathan’s flagship restaurant to catch a glimpse of hot dog eating legends and the celebration that is as uniquely American as it is Nathan’s.

Koegel's 1916 Flint, Michigan

When you fire up the grill this holiday you can celebrate America's 240th birthday and 3rd generation Koegel's 100th! Koegel's uses the same recipes and processes Albert Koegel used 100 years ago, so whether you prefer bratwursts, bockwurst, frankfurters, Italian sausage, Polish sausage, or Viennas for your grill, you can be assured an authentic, fresh product.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

New "Century Club" Member

Run by members of the Seitz family in Chelsea, Michigan since 1916, longevity congratulations go out to new Century Club member Seitz's Tavern. They found creative ways to stay in business during prohibition (the tavern became a restaurant and cigar bar) and retain their signature style of "old school cool" to this day. Seitz's is one of the last "standing bars" in the state: it does not have stools in front of its 23-foot bar that dates from the late 1800s and is made from a single piece of cherry wood. An 1895 brass cash register sits on the back bar and a 100-year-old steel Stroh's beer sign is on display. Seitz's long history and deep ties to the Chelsea community is representative of the key longevity factors in my book "Lessons from the Century Club: Managing for Long-Term Success" - they not only have a good sense of uniqueness, you can feel the pride that three generations have been able to carry on a legacy that has meaning to their community.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Lessons from Century Club Companies: Managing for Long-Term Success

My book on management practices of companies over 100 years old has finally been published and is now available to order! Over ten years of research on these remarkable companies resulted in this book, which includes a list of U.S. companies over 100. I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Two Companies Celebrate 200th Anniversary in 2016

James Madison was president when these two companies were founded in 1816. Two hundred years later, they are still in business. Corporate longevity congratulations go to Hodgdon Yachts and York Water Company!

Hodgdon Yachts is the oldest boat building company in the United States. Still family-owned and operated, they are a fifth generation company in East Boothbay, Maine. They estimate they have launched over 400 vessels in their 200 years - let's hope they have many more to come!

 The York Water Company was founded in York, Pennsylvania by a group of local businessmen who were concerned about fire protection. It is the oldest investor-owned utility in the U.S. and has a record of paying consecutive dividends since 1816.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

125th Anniversary Companies

In 1891 Thomas Edison patented the motional picture camera and the "transmission of signals electrically" (radio). The following companies were also founded that year and have survived to celebrate their 125th anniversary in 2016. Join me in offering corporate longevity congratulations to the following companies.

Bauer's Jewelry: Third generation jewelry store in Saginaw, Michigan

Bond Decorating: Residential and commercial interior design in Iron Mountain, Michigan

Cross County Bank: Meeting the finical needs of the Wynne, Arkansas community.

First Bank of Berne: Locally owned and operated bank in Berne, Indiana.

Hecla Mining: Silver and other precious metal mining company based on Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. 

Hormel: Food company based in Austin, Minnesota that produces Spam and many other food brands.

Krzyske Brothers Company: Fourth generation lumber and hardware stores in southeast Michigan.

National Bankshares: Community bank headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Perhaps there are more companies that should be on this list. If you know of a business that has been in continuous, independent operation since 1891, please comment on this post or email me at 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Companies Celebrating 150 Years in Business in 2016

1866: The year these companies were founded was one year past the American Civil War. There was no through railway to the Pacific Coast, no telephones, no electric lights, no typewriters, airplanes, or automobiles. But they found a way to establish businesses that have endured through world wars, economic depressions, quantum leaps in technology, globalization, and shifting social and cultural values. Join me in congratulating these Century Club Companies on their 150th anniversary.

Dyke Industries, Little Rock, Arkansas

Dyke Industries is a family-owned company that operates 13 distribution outlets, serving 18 states with a broad line of building materials, including millwork, lumber, doors, windows and related items. They serve the Southeast US as a wholesale distributor of a multitude of millwork and related products. 

Garland Manufacturing Company, Saco Maine

With six generations of continuous Garland family management, Garland Manufacturing continues to make mallets and soft-faced hammers for industries worldwide and is the only producer of rawhide mallets in North America. Over the years Garland has also diversified and they offer machined parts and plastic extrusions. 

General Mills, Golden Valley, Minnesota

Starting with a flour mill on the banks of the Mississippi River in 1866, Gold Medal flour is still the top selling brand of flour in the United States. Now with many brands marketed in 100 countries on six continents, General Mills employs over 42,000 people worldwide an has sales of over $17 billion.

Huntington Bancshares, Columbus, Ohio

Huntington is a full-service banking provider operating primarily within the six states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky. As with many Century Club companies, Huntington believes it is their deep relationship-building capabilities that have enabled it to not just survive, but thrive, for 150 years.

Norway Savings Bank, Norway, Maine

A smaller community bank, Norway Savings Bank has also managed to survive for 150 years. Known for their financial strength, exceptional customer service, and contribution to their communities, they are proud to say "We're from Maine and we understand the needs of Maine people and businesses."

Sherwin Williams, Cleveland, Ohio

In 1866 there was no such thing as ready-to-use paint. Henry Sherwin and Edwin Williams changed that and worked to make a product that founded an industry and subtly altered the tone of our everyday lives. Today they are a global company with 4,000 stores worldwide. They know paint.