Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2017 New Century Club Members

2017 will see the following 12 companies added to the roster of U.S. Century Club companies. Some have changed quite a bit over the last 100 years but 3/4 of them have remained privately owned - three are in the 4th generation of family ownership, one is 3rd generation, and one is 5th generation. These companies represent a range of industries, though a surprising 1/4 are wholesale grocers; two are retail (one apparel, one bookstore), one law firm, one bank, one architecture & engineering firm, two manufacturers (office products and specialty trucks), and two produce food & beverage products (steaks and wine). I'll be adding more specific information on each company over the next few weeks as well as featuring them on twitter (@vtenhaken). As always, I welcome information on companies you know that have reached the 100 year milestone and will look forward to adding them to the Century Club!

Central Grocers
Fellowes Inc.
G&L Clothing
HDR, Inc.
Omaha Steaks
Oshkosh Corp
San Antonio Winery
Sunsweet Growers
Vinson & Elkins
Washington Federal

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New Century Club Companies

Many thanks to the many people who have purchased my book or read this blog and contacted me ( about a company they know of or work for that has been in business for over 100 years. I love adding companies to my data base and it is so encouraging to hear that these companies I hadn't included in my research also exhibit the management philosophy and practices of other Century Club Companies.

Here are a few of the recent additions:

Schantz Organ Company (1873) Orville, OH Pipe organ builder

W.H. Fay (1887) Cleveland, OH Trucking 

Afro-American Newspapers (1892) Baltimore, MD Publishing

Galatoire's (1905) New Orleans, LA Restaurant

Interlake Steamship Company (1913) Middleburg Heights, OH Great Lakes shipping

Attman's (1915) Baltimore, MD Delicatessen

Bauer, Inc. (1916) Bristol, CT Test and support equipment for aircraft component maintenance

All have interesting stories, so be sure to check them out!

Monday, August 29, 2016

"A Century Club Company That Operates Like a Tech Start-Up"

Century Club company Independent Stave is a great example of longevity factor #2: unique core strengths combined with change management. Based in Lebanon, Missouri, Independent Stave is the world's largest barrel manufacturer for wine, whiskey, and beer - an industry that relies on barrels for aging their product.

Founded in 1912 by T.W. Boswell, Independent Stave is now run by fourth-generation Boswell siblings. When the company began, it just produced staves - the slats that make up a barrel. It wasn't until 1951 that it opened its own cooperage, aimed at the expanding US whiskey industry. Rather than simply "setting the barrels on fire" to age them (the norm for US barrel manufacturers), the Boswell then in charge began the company's efforts to update the low-tech process with various engineered quality-control systems and dived deep into the science of wood aging. The result is what the New York Times called "a company that makes an age-old product but operates like a tech start-up." (See the NYT August 28, 2016 for the full article on Independent Stave.)

As with most Century Club companies, Independent Stave would not have survived for over 100 years without building on their unique core strengths, making improvements that keep them ahead of the competition. For more information about this competency (factor #2 in my longevity model) as well as the other four longevity factors, read "Lessons from Century Club Companies: Managing for Long-Term Success."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Survival? Sustainability? Stewardship? What word best describes "long-term business success?"

When writing my book on common practices of companies over 100 years old, I struggled with what term to use to describe them. With the help of my editor, Clark Malcolm, I landed on Century Club Companies, which certainly sounds better than "old companies," and referred to their longevity practices as "managing for long-term success." When presenting papers on my research at academic conferences I often call these "survival factors," which somehow seems to downplay the fact that these companies have done much more than merely survive: though most have gone through periods of barely surviving, most actually thrive or they wouldn't have lasted for over 100 years. Early on I liked to talk about the sustainability of these companies, but that term has become identified almost exclusively with the environmental movement. (At the last conference where I presented a paper, one of the discussants actually thanked me for using the term "survival" instead of "sustainable.") Use of the term sustainable business practices becomes even more confusing because one of the five factors in my longevity model is that of deep relationships these companies have with their community --including being at the forefront of many environmental sustainability practices. 

When talking about the leadership approach used by people running Century Club Companies another term that comes into play is "stewardship," because these leaders tend to see themselves as caretakers of their companies. The role of leader comes with a sort of obligation to make decisions that will ensure the continuity of the firm rather than those that would make a big splash or fulfill the leader's personal ambitions or need for recognition. But I have been told that the term stewardship comes with either religious or servant-like overtones that some find off-putting. (Also I need to say that many Century Club leaders readily describe themselves as either stewards or servants of the company.)

What do you think? When talking about practices leaders can use to keep their companies in business for the long term, what term makes the most sense? 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Many Century Club Companies Keep Things in the Family

According to Family Business Review only 12% of family businesses survive to the third generation and just 3% operate into the 4th generation and beyond. 

However, when looking at Century Club Companies we see a far different story. There are 728 companies in my data base of U.S. companies over 100 years old. Of these, 85 (11.7 percent) are in their 5th generation of family ownership; 41 (5.6 percent) have made it to the 6th generation; and another 15 companies (2 percent) are in the 7th generation and beyond.  These companies are truly treasures - for their families, their employees, their customers, their business partners, and their communities. To read what it takes to survive - and thrive - through the generations, see Lessons From Century Club Companies: Managing for Long-Term Success.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

"Lessons From Old Companies" - A Book Review

My neighbor recently gave me a great book. He knew Stried Painting just celebrated 32 years in business and thought I might like to read about what it takes to keep a business thriving for 100 years or more. Now, that's a challenge!  The book, Lessons from Century Club Companies: Managing for Long Term Success, written by Vicki TenHaken, is a gem. She covers five key factors that these companies have in common. Long term relationships with employees, and long term relationships with business partners are two of the five factors. These two resonated with me, since Stried Painting is fortunate to have employees who have been with us for 20 years. We've also enjoyed a 20+ year relationship with more than a few customers. How does this happen? TenHaken says that the Century Club companies tend to be frugal, and they know how and where their money is being spent. This allows them to weather the bad times, and gives them the ability to keep staff in place when the going gets rough. Century Club companies also take a lot of effort in training their employees, giving them the skills needed to do their jobs effectively. 
Century Club companies understand in their bones the value of long term customer relationships and vendor relationships as well. In an environment of intense competition I found it refreshing to read how much they value business partnerships. TenHaken states, "Since Century Club companies believe they cannot maintain success without the cooperation of others, they put a premium on actions that will retain their suppliers and customers from generation to generation." She goes on to describe the fact they are relentless in their pursuit of new business as well. In short, there is a healthy balance. It's not easy taking the long view, but these companies affirm that in doing so, it will indeed pay off.  I did a quick count on the number of companies she has listed and counted 662 (she leaves her email address for those who want to put more Century Club companies on her radar and in her database). I was happy to see that the middle of our country is home to 239 of these great companies. Selfishly, I'd like to think that good old-fashioned Midwestern values has a little something to do with that!
I highly recommend this book and look forward to diving deeper into the other factors the author outlines. We have a lot of work and improvement ahead of us, and this book, and the exceptional companies in its pages, will be a superb guide. Here's to another 68 years in business and achieving Century Club status!
Jim StriedStried Painting   Business relationships at work since 1984.

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