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; more information on each to come.
  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!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Six U.S. Companies Celebrate 150 Years in 2015




Two public and four privately-owned firms - here are the companies that will be celebrating 150 years in business this year.  

      Congratulations!


American Hotel Register Company of Vernon Hills, Illinois has been a premier supplier to the hospitality industry since 1865. With roots that date back to the Civil war, American Hotel Register was founded as a publisher of travel directories and railroad maps and has continually adapted to the changing times and evolution of the hospitality industry.



Cargill, Inc. is a multinational agricultural commodities and energy trading company based in Minnesota. Founded in 1865, it is considered the largest privately-held corporation in the United States.





                                                   

Next up is Carter's Inc., the Atlanta based marketer of baby and children's clothing. With two of the most recognized brands, Carter's and OshKosh B'gosh, they have over 600 company-owned stores as well as selling through thousands of other retailers.


This one you probably haven't heard of unless you live in Missouri: Hawthorn Bancshares is a financial holding company headquartered in Jefferson City, Missouri. They are listed on NASDAQ and have 24 banking locations in Missouri.



Nor have you likely heard of Kositchek's unless you've been shopping for fine quality menswear in Lansing, Michigan. (Also in Jackson, Kalamazoo, or Battle Creek.) Now in the hands of the fourth generation of Kositcheks, they have branched out into other offerings but menswear is still their specialty.


Last on this alphabetical list of 150 year old companies is Langlois Pianos, a fifth generation shop for new and used pianos, rentals, and restoration. Located in Bremerton, Washington, they are dedicated to the art of piano service and care and may be the oldest family-run business in the state.



Friday, January 9, 2015

Two Family Businesses Turn 175 in 2015


The two companies that celebrate 175 years in business this year are both in the food industry:
Gillies Coffee in New York and Antoine's restaurant in New Orleans.

Antoine's is known to many as the grand dame of fine French-Creole dining - and the birthplace of oysters Rockefeller. Run by a long line of the Alciatore family, it claims to be the oldest family-run restaurant in the United States.

Gillies is a wholesale specialty coffee merchant in New York run by eighth generation family members.

Both these organizations are true treasures - let's celebrate them. If they stay in business - and in the family - for another 25 years they will qualify to be part of the Henokeins Association of 200-year-old family run companies.

Seven Companies Celebrated 150 Years in 2014

Though this posting is a little late, I want to acknowledge those corporate century club members that reached the 150 year mark in 2014. My data base shows this august group includes one privately-owned business: Renault Winery in Egg Harbor, New Jersey.

Six public firms, including CONSOL Energy and specialty paper producer PH Glatfelter, both of Pennsylvania, and four banks: First Horizon National Corporation in Memphis; Dime Community Bancshares of New York; The First Bancorp of Damariscotta, Maine; and Independent Bank of Ionia, Michigan complete the list.





Thursday, January 8, 2015

Loane Bros., Inc. Turns 200 This Year


Loane Brothers was founded in 1815 by Joseph Loane when he arrived in Baltimore from Portsea, England and set up shop as a sail maker. Loane Bros is still a family owned and operated business based in Baltimore and in the last 200 years they have grown and evolved with the times, now specializing in awnings, party tents and rentals.


Two hundred years of continuous operation is an amazing accomplishment - congratulations!

Friday, December 19, 2014

What About Schumpeter's Process of Creative Destruction?

Having just returned from presenting a paper on corporate longevity at the Strategic Management Society's conference in Sydney, I am pleased with the very positive response to my research on common behaviors of 100-year-old companies. The academics, business executives, and consultants in attendance encouraged me to pursue publication and wider dissemination of the research saying "I think you're really on to something here." One of the reasons this response was so encouraging is that in the past I have often been challenged to justify why I would research old companies in the first place. Free market economists tend to dismiss the value of longevity: Doesn't the principle of creative destruction imply that the old need to die to make way for the new? That vanishing companies and lost jobs are inherent parts of a growing economic system?

My response to this question has often been that I'm not saying a company should live forever, just that most "die" prematurely, causing much more trauma to employees, customers, suppliers, and communities than is necessary. But I think former McKinsey managing director Ian Davis had a better response in his reflections on corporate longevity published in the September 2014 issue of McKinsey Quarterly:  "Up to a point, I support that [creative destruction] argument. But it needs to be examined and challenged constantly if the underlying idea is not to be abused. Not all destruction is creative, and not all creativity is destructive. The demise of a company is not damaging only for its stakeholders. Sometimes, it may also be an inefficient way of innovating in the economy or an industry, because it breaks up established and tangible assets, such as R&D know-how and strong consumer and supplier relationships. A company that learns to adapt and change to meet market demands avoids not just the trauma of decline or an unwanted change of ownership but also very real transaction and disruption costs. Corporate endurance should not be an end in itself. That said, in a very real sense, survival is the ultimate performance measure."

I couldn't agree more.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Old Companies Are Environmental Sustainability Leaders

Who knew? Being an environment sustainability leader is a distinguishing factor of old companies I didn't expect - in fact we didn't even ask about companies environment efforts in our research. We should perhaps have had a clue based on how committed the old companies are to their communities as well as the fact that they have an attitude of stewardship regarding sustaining their business. But the fact is, I came across this factor by accident.

One of the courses I teach is Managing for Environmental Sustainability. In prepping for the course I ordered a new book I thought would be good for our business students called "Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage" by Daniel Esty and Andrew Winston. In the book they have a list of companies they consider forward-thinking in the area of sustainable business practices, which they call "wave makers." As I was reading through the list I recognized a number of them were also in my data base of 100-year-old companies! Most people (including me) assumed that a "green" strategy was something new and entrepreneurial rather than something embraced by old, established businesses.

The more I thought about this, the more sense it made: the stewardship attitude of leaders in the old companies means they see their role as one of preserving the firm for future generations. It's a logical extension of this behavior to include preserving the environment for future generations. Their environmental sustainability strategies likely flow from the old companies' sense of social responsibility to their communities (see previous blog post). It may also stem from these companies' frugality: "green" projects often require an up-front investment that saves money in the long run. Since these companies intend to be around for the long term, they know they will benefit from the investment.

Once I began looking for it, I saw this leading edge attitude toward environmental sustainability in almost every 100-year-old company I studied. When I visited the 200-year-old cruise ship manufacturer Meyer Werft last summer, their head of R&D mentioned that the company was working on the development of fuel cell technology to power ships. He said they didn't expect it to be viable for 20 years or so, but they were investing in the project because they felt it was the best way to address the issue of how to power big ships in an environmentally responsible manner. (He even hinted that it might lead to a new business for them if they could sell fuel cell 'engines' to other large ship manufacturers.) With a 20-year investment and just the belief that it is the best solution to an environmental issue, who other than a very profitable 200-year-old company would make such an investment? This is an amazing example of the innovative strategies of old companies: just because they are old doesn't make them dinosaurs; they innovate and change or they wouldn't have survived for so long. It is their strategy of stewardship that approaches innovation, including in environmental sustainability, in a manner that ensures their viability into the future. Not all creativity needs to be destructive.

More confirmation of the longevity and environmental sustainability connection came with the 2015 list of the "Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World," an index prepared by the Corporate Knights organization. Forty percent of the U.S. firms on this list are over 100 years old. Compare that to the fact that less than one percent of all U.S. companies are that old. Further if I define "longevity" as companies that are over 90 years old, 50% of the U.S. companies on this list are long-term sustainability leaders.