Monday, July 14, 2014

Jacoby's German Biergarten

While moving my son to Detroit last week, he decided he needed a beer break.  Being unfamiliar with the city we drove around for a while and my husband spotted a sign for Jacoby's German Biergarten.  It seemed appropriate, so we stopped and it was great!  They advertise themselves as Detroit's oldest saloon and have been in operation since 1904.  There seems to be some confusion as to whether the Jacoby's are still involved in the business: our server showed us a framed document that said the place was run by 4th generation Jacobys; but that might have been old since a Crain's article from 2013 said the business was for sale by an out-of-state investor.  The same article said they had offers they were negotiating and were hoping to find someone interested in being part of the "comeback of Detroit."  Guess they found someone!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

These Companies Celebrated Their 200th Anniversary in 2013

Since I don't have a record of any companies still in operation that were founded in 1814, I will profile the two I found that celebrated their 200-year anniversary last year:

Continental Grain Company (ContiGroup) was established in 1813 as a grain trading firm in Belgium.  In 1940 they moved to New York City; today it is one of the largest privately-held companies in the United States.

Cooper, Erving & Savage is a law firm in Albany, New York that traces its origins back to the firm of Van Vechten and Van Vechten, which was first reported to have existed in 1813 but may have originated even earlier.  

Aunt Millie's

While making my breakfast this morning I discovered another 100-year-old company.  Reading bread wrappers isn't the most efficient way to build a data base, but it is typical of how I have found many of the old companies for my research. 
 Aunt Millie’s Bakeries is a family-owned company headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It operates six bakeries in three states, producing bread and other bakery products.  The company was founded in 1901 as the Fort Wayne Biscuit Company. Since the goal of the company was "perfection," the company was later renamed Perfection Biscuit Company, then Perfection Bakeries, and later to Aunt Millie's Bakeries after its popular line of breads.  Today's president, John F. Popp, is the grandson of the founder.
Aunt Millie’s produces baked goods including bread, buns, rolls, English muffins, bagels, and muffins and employs about 1,600 people in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Old Dutch Companies

Hanze University in Groningen, Netherlands offers a three-week summer program on "Doing Business in Europe" in which Hope College participated for the first time this year.  Since it was our first year, I accompanied our participating students to evaluate how the program should fit into our Management curriculum.  The students attend lectures on intercultural management, marketing in the EU, and legal/economic issues of the EU.  Also part of the program are business visits and cultural/social activities.  This year we visited four companies - all over 100 years old!  It was so interesting to hear executives describe their firm and their company culture in terms that echo the factors from my research on old companies in Japan and the U.S.  The "survival" factors/behaviors of old companies do appear to be cross-cultural.
Grolsch will celebrate 400 years in 2015.

Hooghoudt (distiller) is over 125 years old, and still family owned.


Meyer Werft (large cruise ship manufacturer) is over 200 years old and still owned and managed by the founding family... 

And Philips will celebrate 125 years in 2016

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Co-ops Have A Better "Survival" Rate

I have received some information from a person associated with the USDA that there are many (134) farm cooperatives over 100 years old.  That number represents 6% of all co-ops, a far larger percentage than that of organizations formed around the standard business model (which runs less than 1% - perhaps even less than one-half of 1%).  It will take some research into the normal cooperative behaviors and strategies, but I suspect they operate in a similar manner to the businesses that have made it into the century club - a great focus on relationships and community, and more focused on sustaining the 'business' than on growth.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Addition to the Michigan "100 Over 100"

Though this now brings the number to something more like 105 Michigan companies over 100 years old, I love adding new businesses to the "century club:"  Independent Bank was founded in 1864 as the First National Bank of Ionia. Today, Independent Bank Corp. (Nasdaq symbols is IBCP), is a Michigan-based bank holding company with over 60 locations throughout the lower peninsula of Michigan.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Another U.S. Generational Business Over 200 Years Old

Bachman Funeral Home may appear to be like any other funeral home, but there have been changes in its 245 years as a business in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.  It started as a furniture carpentry shop, eventually focused solely on coffins, and then in 1910 became a funeral home.  Current owner and 8th generation family member John Bachman says the firm has been successful because it identified changing trends and is motivated by community - feeling respected, appreciated, and helping people around you.  This sense of community is prevalent in most of the old companies I have researched.  At over 200 years old, still owned and operated by descendants of the founding family, Bachman's definitely qualifies to be a member of the Henokeins Association.