Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Oldest Hotels in the United States

At least five hotels make claims to be the oldest hotels in the Unites States, but my records show the oldest is the Seaside Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine. In the hands of the Gooch family since 1756, they have records showing it has been operating as an inn since at least 1660. Now run by 9th generation family, Seaside Inn has been in business for over 250 years!

A close second is The Beekman Arms (The "Beek") in the village of Rhinebeck in New York's Hudson Valley. Founded in 1766 The Beekman Arms and  Delamater Inn, has a history of being at the center of the nation's and the area's civic and social life.

Beekman Arms
 Though neither makes claims to being the oldest, two more historic hotels were founded in 1778: the Inn at Willow Grove in Orange, Virginia and The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The Inn at Willow Grove doesn't say much about its history on their website, but The Greenbrier proudly calls itself "America's resort" and touts the fact that they have hosted "distinguished guests from around the world since 1778."
have hosted distinguished guests from around the world since 1778 - See more at: http://www.greenbrier.com/HomePage-Sub-Pages/About-The-Greenbrier#sthash.Lubt1N8F.dpuf
have hosted distinguished guests from around the world since 1778 - See more at: http://www.greenbrier.com/HomePage-Sub-Pages/About-The-Greenbrier#sthash.Lubt1N8F.dpuf

The Inn at Willow Grove
The Greenbrier      

Fifth on the list is Wayside Inn of Middletown, Virginia. Wayside does claim to be the "oldest continuously operating inn since 1797." Oldest or not, this gem has been proudly serving the public for over 200 years.

The Wayside Inn

That's my list of America's oldest hotels. If you know of others that are independently owned and operated and have been in continuous operation for 100 years or more, I'd love to have you leave a comment.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

20 Companies Turn 115 in 2015

At least twenty U.S. companies will celebrate their 115th anniversary in 2015. I'm sure there are more - especially small, privately-owned firms of which I am not yet aware - so please leave a comment if you know a business that is missing from this list.

AK Steel Holding Corporation, West Chester, OH
American Bridge Company, Pittsburgh PA
Block Communications, Toledo, OH
Chemtura Corporation, Philadelphia, PA
Dykstra Funeral Homes, Holland, MI
First United Corporation, Oakland, MD
The French Oil Mill Machinery Co, Piqua, OH
Fris Office Outfitters, Holland, MI
Gilbert Chocolates, Jackson MI
Graniterock, Watsonville, CA
Lovejoy, Downers Grove, IL
McNerney Companies, Toledo, OH
North-Eastern Pennsylvania Telephone Co, Forest City, PA
Rosa Food Products, Philadelphia, PA
Schramm, Inc. West Chester
Sparton Corporation, Schaumburg, IL
Torchmark, McKinney, TX
Tourneau, New York, NY
Weyerhaeuser, Federal Way, WA
Wright Lindsey & Jennings LLP, Little Rock, AR

I just found an addition to this list that I don't quite know how to handle: Birnn Chocolates was founded in 1915 and in 1991 split into two companies: Birrn Chocolates of Vermont, which is run by 3rd generation Birnns and focuses on making truffles, and Birnn Chocolates (of New Jersey), which makes a full line of chocolates. I guess the best thing to do is congratulate them both (and eat some chocolate)!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

165th Anniversary Companies

Founded in 1850 and still going strong, here are the companies in my data base turning 165 this year. As with other anniversary posts, I would love to hear about firms celebrating the 165-year mark that are missing from this list.

American Express Company, NYC

Farmers Capital Bank Corp, Frankfort, KY

Harper's, NYC

Matthews International Corp., Pittsburgh, PA

Media General, Richmond, VA

Oliver Bros Fine Art Restoration, Boston, MA

Preusser Jewelers, Grand Rapids, MI

and Raymond Hardware, Port Sanilac, MI

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Michigan Century Club

Yesterday I listened to a story on Michigan Radio (Stateside with Cynthia Canty) that highlighted a few Detroit organizations over 100 years old. Cynthia interviewed Ilene Wolff, who had written a piece for DBusiness Magazine on Detroit's "century club." It made me think about the Michigan Century Club I tried to get started a few years ago. The Michigan Retailers Association honors Centennial Retailers and the Michigan Historical Society has a Milestone Award for which a company reaching 50, 100, or 150 years can apply, but I had a difficult time finding a comprehensive list of Michigan companies over 100. In my work I focus on for-profit companies: public or private, small or large, in all industries. The Michigan Radio piece yesterday made me think it was time to update my Michigan Century Club list, so here it is - congratulations to all!

Michigan Business Century Club

Acme Manufacturing, Auburn Hills
American Seating, Grand Rapids
Amstore, Grand Rapids
Armaly Brands, Walled Lake
Armstrong International, Three Rivers
Atkins Hardware & Furniture, Vassar
Bahle's, Suttons Bay
Bauer's Jewelry, Saginaw
Becharas Bros. Coffee, Highland Park
Bissel, Grand Rapids
Bond Decorating, Iron Mountain
BorgWarner, Auburn Hills
Brammal Industrial Supply, Benton Harbor
Buckley's Shoes, Bad Axe
Buis Mattress, Holland
Bulman Products, Grand Rapids
Butzel Long, Detroit
Carhartt, Dearborn
Cascarelli's Restaurant, Albion
Central Michigan Paper, Ada
Chelsea Lumber Co, Chelsea
Chelsea Milling, Chelsea
Chelsea State Bank, Chelsea
Chris Engel's Greenhouse, Detroit
CMS Energy, Jackson
Corbishley's Clothing, Bad Axe
Crandill Funeral Homes, Fremont & White Cloud
Daniel Orr Sons Hardware, North Branch
Dekker's Jewelry, Zeeland
Detroit Store Fixture Co, Detroit
DeVries Jewelers, Grand Rapids
DeWitt Barrels, Marne
Dickenson's Hardware, Fennville
Dittrich Furs, Detroit
Doncker's Candies & Gifts, Marquette
Dow Chemical, Midland
Dykstra Funeral Homes, Holland
Ebonex Corp, Detroit
Edge-Sweets (ESCO), Grand Rapids
Eikenhout, Inc, Grand Rapids
Federal Mogul, Southfield
Feigi's Interiors, Saginaw
Ford Motor Co., Dearborn
Frankenmuth Brewery, Frankenmuth
Frankenmuth News, Frankenmuth
French Paper Company, Niles
Fris Office Outfitters, Holland
Fritz Family Restaurant, Richville
GB Russo & Son, Grand Rapids
General Motors, Detroit
George Jerome & Co, Roseville
George P. Johnson, Auburn Hills
Getz Department Store, Marquette
Gilbert Chocolates, Jackson
Golden Shoes, Traverse City
Gordon Food Service, Grand Rapids
Graafschap Hardware, Holland
Groskopf's Luggage, Grand Rapids
Harley Ellis Devereaux, Southfield
Heidi's Old Village Flowers, Plymouth
Henry the Hatter, Detroit
Herman's Boy Coffee Roasters, Rockford
Herman Miller Inc, Zeeland
Herter Music, Bay City
Hoekstra's Hardware, Kalamazoo
Homer Monumental Works, Homer
Holland Peanut Store, Holland
Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Detroit
Independent Bank Corp, Ionia
Irwin Seating, Grand Rapids
Jacoby's German Biergarten, Detroit
Jesperson's Restaurant & Pie Shoppe, Petoskey
Johnson's Studio & Camera Shop, Cheboygan
Keep & Martinson Lumber, Tekonsha
Kellogs, Battle Creek
Kindel Furniture, Grand Rapids
Kirlin Company, Detroit
Koeze Company, Grand Rapids
Kositchek's, Lansing
Krzyske Brothers, Waltz
Langeland-Sterenberg Funeral Home, Holland
Lokers Shoes, Holland
Lovewell's Corner Store, Lupton
Mapes Furniture, Sunfield
Martins Shoe House, Monroe
Masters LaLonde Shoes, Alpena
MBT Financial Corp, Monroe
McClellan's Frankenmuth Woolen Mill, Frankenmuth
McKee Monument & Mercantile, Marshall
Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home, Grand Rapids
Michigan Ladder, Ypsilanti
Milkins Jewelers, Monroe
Apothecary Shop, Holland
Moore & Carter Lumber, Sandusky & Croswell
Mosher's Jewelers, Port Huron
Murdick's Fudge, Mackinac Island
Murphy & Caris, Fremont
Oliver Products, Grand Rapids
Padnos, Holland
Palmer Auto Service, Frankenmuth
Perrigo, Allegan
Pomeroy Funeral Home, Croswell
Power's Clothing, Jonesville
Preusser Jewelers, Grand Rapids
R.L. Polk & Co, Detroit
Raymond Hardware, Port Sanilac
Reusch Jewelers, Cheboygan
Schaefer Bierleen Cars, Frankenmuth
Schuler's Restaurant & Pub, Marshall
Sempliner's Bride & Formal, Bay City
Sieb Plumbing, Heating & A/C, Monroe
Siegel Jewelers, Grand Rapids
Skaff Carpet & Furniture, Flint
Smith Floral & Greenhouse, Lansing
SmithGroupJJR, Detroit
Staffan-Mitchell Funeral Homes, Chelsea
Start of the West Milling Co, Frankenmuth
Steelcase, Grand Rapids
Steven's Van Lines, Saginaw
Sunnyside Florist, Owosso
Superior Sport Store, Holland
Standard Companies, Grand Rapids
Vail Rubber Company, St. Joseph
VanPoppelen Bros. Inc., Bay City
Varnum, Grand Rapids
Vortuba Leather Goods, Traverse City
Vredeveld Shoes, Fremont
W.B. Hayden & Sons Hardware, Cassopolis
West Branch Flour Mill, West Branch
Westbrook Hardware, Croswell
Whirlpool, St. Joseph
White Insurance Agency, Fremont
Winglemire Furniture, Holly
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids
Wolverine Worldwide, Rockford
WW Fairbairn & Sons, Alanson
Yaeger's Shoes, Monroe
Yale Expositor, Yale
Zeeland Print Shop, Zeeland

I'm sure there are more companies to add to this list, so if you or someone you know works for a company that has managed to thrive for over 100 years, please let me know via a comment to this blog. Thanks!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Companies Celebrating 130 Years in 2015

130 might not be a normal milestone to celebrate, but when a company survives to this point it is definitely worth noting. Less than one percent of companies make it to the century mark, so surpassing that point and surviving the transition to another generation of leadership is cause for celebration. Here is my list of 11 companies hitting this mark in 2015 - I would appreciate hearing from you if you know of others who should be honored on this list.

E.C. Barton & Co., a building supplies retail store chain based in Jonesboro, Arkansas - a private company with an employee stock ownership program
Belden Brick Company, a 4th generation private block & brick manufacturer in Canton, Ohio
Bemberg Iron Works, Inc., the private metal fabricator in Little Rock, Arkansas - still run by Bembergs
W.C. Bradley Co., a private company making home and leisure products in Columbus, Georgia
Central Michigan Paper, the private wholesale paper merchant in Ada, Michigan
Cromwell Architects Engineers, a privately-owned architectural firm in Little Rock, Arkansas
Haverty Furniture Companies, Inc., a public retail furniture store chain based in Atlanta
Johnson Controls, Inc., the public, global manufacturer of various energy and automobile products based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
M.G. Newell Corporation, private manufacturer of sanitary processing equipment based in Greensboro, North Carolina
Reusch Jewelers, a private retail jewelry store in Petoskey and Cheboygan, Michigan
RMK Merril Stevens, a privately-owned shipyard and yacht repair in Miami, Florida

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Companies Turning 100 in 2015

For a company to stay in business for 100 years is truly a remarkable accomplishment. Companies that have survived this long did so through conscientious management, consistently running the business according to values established early in the firm’s life. Think about it: companies in business for over 100 years have weathered economic depression and several recessions, two world wars, quantum leaps in technology (some of which have rendered whole industries obsolete), major shifts in social and cultural mores, globalization – all this in addition to normal competition. In my opinion, these companies are true treasures, having contributed both economically and socially to our communities. We should all celebrate the following firms reaching this milestone in 2015 and wish them many more successful decades to come. (If you know a company turning 100 in 2015 that is not on this list, please let me know.)

Baker Roofing Co. Raleigh, North Carolina
Bealls Inc. Bradenton, Florida
Black & Veatch, Kansas City, Missouri
Commercial Metals Co. Irving, Texas
Donaldson Co. Inc. Minneapolis, Minnesota
1st National Bank,Wynne, Arkansas
Gannett Fleming,Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
GenCorp, Inc, Rancho Cordova, California
Gordman's Stores, Inc. Omaha, Nebraska
Haven's Candies, Portland, Maine
Patrick Lumber Co. Portland, Oregon
Thompson Cigar, Tampa, Florida
Welch Allyn, Skaneateles, New York
Western Construction Group, St. Louis, Missouri

Thursday, January 15, 2015

20 Companies Founded in 1890 to Celebrate 125 Years in Business During 2015

Over the next few days I'll be profiling the companies in my corporate longevity data base that will celebrate their 125th anniversary this year. My records show 20 companies on this list, but if you know of more I would love to hear about them. Since less than one-half of one percent of businesses survive to be 100 years old, reaching 125 is true cause for celebration. Here they are, in alphabetical order.
  1. A.M. Castle of Oak Brook, Illinois
  2. Ameriana Bancorp of Newcastle, Indiana
  3. A. Tenenbaum Co. of North Little Rock, Arkansas
  4. Banner Corporation of Walla Walla, Washington
  5. Bartell Drugs Pharmacy in Seattle, Washington
  6. Conns Inc. of The Woodlands, Texas
  7. Emerson Electric Co. of St. Louis, Missouri
  8. First State Bank of Warren, Arkansas
  9. Fluor Corp. of Irving, Texas
  10. Gillig of San Francisco, California
  11. Great Lakes Dredge & Dock of Oak Brook, Illinois
  12. Hardinge, Inc. of Elmira, New York
  13. J. Levine Co. of NYC, NY
  14. Lee Enterprises Inc. of Davenport, Iowa
  15. Marshalltown Company of Marshalltown, Iowa
  16. Oliver Products Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan
  17. Stifel Financial Corp. in St. Louis, Missouri
  18. Suffolk Bancorp of Riverhead, New York
  19. Sundt Construction in Tempe, Arizona
  20. Teufel Nursery in Portland, Oregon

A.M. Castle is a global distributor of specialty metal and plastics products and supply chain services. It is a public company (NYSE:CAS) operating from more than 54 facilities around the world. Their website says they have a rich heritage dating back to its founding by Alfred M. Castle in 1890 in the Chicago area. As is the case with many 100-year-old companies, they say A.M. Castle has withstood the test of time, including challenges brought on by rapid changes in their industry and economic uncertainty, by focusing on the needs of their customers and providing innovative solutions. Congratulations on reaching your 125th anniversary!

Ameriana Bancorp is a bank with offices throughout central Indiana. Founded in 1890, with their culture of community, prudence, and innovation they reflect several of the key tenets members of the "corporate century club"say have enabled their survival for over 100 years. Though a publicly-traded stock (NASDAQ:ASBI), they have not lost sight of what it takes to thrive for the long term. Congratulations on reaching your 125th anniversary in 2015!

A. Tenenbaum Co. - now TRG: Tenenbaum Recycling Group - is a full service scrap metal processing and recycling company with multiple locations in Arkansas. Over the last 125 years TRG has grown from a small scrap iron and metal business to one of the largest corporations in Arkansas. A fourth generation Tenenbaum is today's chairman. Reflective of many qualities of the corporate century club, TRG pledges to continue to help provide a cleaner environment, preserve natural resources, and provide employment for their dedicated employees.

Banner Bank was founded in 1890 in Walla Walla, Washington and is now a public company (NASDAQ:BANR) with over 90 locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. Carrying out their motto of "Do the right thing" includes giving back to their communities, helping to make them better places to live and work. My hope is that they will be able to keep their values intact as the complete the planned merger with AmercanWest bank this year.

Bartell Drugs is a family-owned chain of pharmacy stores in Washington state. This Seattle-based business now has over 60 stores throughout the state and is run by third and fourth generation Bartell family members. As with so many other members of the "Corporate Century Club," Bartells credits commitment to their philosophy of doing business (focus on the customer experience and provide a great place to work for employees) as the primary reason for their success and longevity. Congratulations on 125 years in business!

Conn's is a chain of electronics and appliance stores based in Texas. Founded in 1890 as a plumbing and heating company, they have evolved and changed over the years and are now a public company (NASDAQ:CONN) with 90 stores throughout the country - that's a lot of places to hold anniversary parties!

Emerson Electric (NYSE:EMR) is a global manufacturing and technology company based in St. Louis, Missouri. Emerson describes itself as a company "where engineering and technology come together to create solutions" for the benefit of their customers. The company was established in 1890 by John W. Emerson to make electric motors and became the first to sell electric fans in the United States. It quickly expanded into other electric tools and, though many 100 year old companies remain small, Emerson has seen success through growth: They are now a $25 billion company with 115,000 employees and 220 manufacturing locations worldwide.Though there isn't much about their history on the corporate website, I hope they take the opportunity to celebrate 125 years of business success during 2015.

Founded in 1890 as the Merchant and Planters Bank in Bradley County Arkansas, First State Bank has survived an early robbery (in 1896), the Great Depression, and the 2008 financial crisis to celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2015. Building on a tradition of "integrity, service, and community" First State has locations in Warren, Hermitage, and Hampton, Arkansas.

Though the Fluor website tracks their beginnings to 1912 when the Fluor brothers set up their construction company in California, one could argue that what is now Fluor Corporation was founded 1890 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin by the Fluor brothers as a saw and paper mill. No matter the date one counts as the beginning, in the last 100 years the company has moved (now headquartered in Irving, Texas) and grown into a multi-billion dollar global engineering and construction firm traded on the NYSE (FLR). Its stock is a component of the S&P500.

GILLIG was founded in 1890 as a wagon and carriage shop in San Francisco. The company gradually evolved through production of different types of transportation vehicles and today focuses on heavy-duty, low-floor transit buses. Throughout the 125 years they have remained family-owned and focused on their valued employees and customers, connecting communities and contributing to a greener environment - all very representative of the characteristics of so many businesses that have thrived for over 100 years.  Congratulations!

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock was founded as a partnership in 1890 to construct an offshore tunnel expanding Chicago's water intake. It expanded quickly and today is the largest U.S. provider of construction services in the area of dredging and land reclamation, working on many notable projects around the globe. They are a publicly-traded company (NASDAQ:GLDD) based in Oak Brook, Illinois. Hope they take the time to celebrate their 125th anniversary!

Hardinge, Inc. is a global machine tool maker providing a wide range of solutions to a variety of industries. Headquartered in Elmira, New York, Hardinge is a public company (NASDAQ:HDNG) best known for its lathes, both CNC and non-CNC. There's not much about their history on the corporate website, so I hope they decide to document the company's past 125 years as they celebrate this special milestone.

Truly a unique member of this 125th anniversary "club" is J. Levine Co., a retail store in New York City that has long been the destination for Jewish books and ceremonial art and objects. Five generations ago, the company was founded in Lithuania and moved to New York in 1905. Now located in midtown Manhattan, Levine's has earned the reputation as the ultimate Judaica store. Pride in their work is evident on the website where they proclaim what a delight it is to be celebrating over 100 years and five generations in the Levine family business.

Now a publicly-traded media company (NYSE:LEE), Lee Enterprises was founded in Iowa by A.W. Lee in 1890. Operating primarily in midsize markets, Lee publishes 46 daily newspapers along with rapidly growing digital products and nearly 300 specialty publications. Exhibiting an example of the innovativeness of many old companies, their Davenport, Iowa newspaper was the first in the world to be produced entirely by computer.

The origins of the Marshalltown Company (based in Marshalltown, Iowa) go back to 1890 when a local inventor and entrepreneur received a visit from a local stonemason wanting a better trowel for the masons working on the town's courthouse. Thus began this company that has grown to be one of the world's largest manufacturers of construction tools. (It is said their trowels are also the favored tool of archaeologists.)

Oliver Products Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan is a privately-owned diverse manufacturer offering products in three categories: food packaging, bakery equipment, and medical device & pharmaceutical packaging. Founded in 1890 as a woodworking equipment company, their expertise with blades led to the introduction of the first bread slicer in 1932. They have built on their reputation for quality equipment design and manufacturing to celebrate 125 years in 2015. Congratulations!

I'm pretty sure Stifel, the full-service brokerage and investment baking firm, will be celebrating their 125th anniversary this year because they already have a video posted on their website (www.stifel.com). Begun as a single office in St. Louis, today Stifel has a growing network of offices across the United States. They are a public firm (NYSE:SF) that not only survived the 2008 financial crisis, but grew and thrived. My guess is that they were able to do this by sticking to the strategies common to most 100-year-old firms (see previous blog posts). Their motto since founding in 1890: "Safeguard the money of others as if it's our own."
Another public financial institution, Suffolk Bancorp (NASDAQ:SUBK), turns 125 this year. Suffolk is a one-bank holding company providing commercial banking and financial services through Suffolk County National Bank. Its headquarters are in Riverhead, New York and it serves the Long Island market. As with so many 100-year-old companies, Suffolk is known for its culture of active community involvement.

The only 100 percent employee-owned company on our list of 125-year-old companies is Sundt Construction, Inc. Starting in 1890 by Norwegian ship carpenter Mauritz Sundt  building homes and farm structures until he was hired to build a church in 1929. Based in Tempe, Arizona over the decades Sundt has grown and diversified both geographically and in the types of projects constructed/ It is consistently listed as one of the 100 largest contractors in the U.S.
Number 20 on the list of companies celebrating their 125th anniversary in 2015 is Teufel Nursery, a fourth-generation family-owned landscaping company based in Oregon. Founded in 1890, the company and its 200 employees install and maintain landscaping for commercial, government, and residential customers. Congratulations to all!