Thursday, February 16, 2017
Several of the longevity practices that turned up in my research of companies over 100 years old have to do with personalized customer service and close ties to the firm's local community. Perhaps because these are also practices of well-run funeral homes, we find a rather large number (relatively speaking) among Century Club Companies and that the majority of these have been run by the same family for generations. Longevity congratulations to the following generational funeral homes in operation for over 150 years. I would love to hear of more!
Backman Funeral Home, Strasburg PA 1769 8th generation
Rogers Funeral Home, Frankfort KY 1802 7th generation
Bear Funeral Home, Churchville VA 1812 6th generation
Eaton Funeral Homes, Newton MA 1818 6th generation
Stuard Funeral Home, Ardmore PA 1822 6th generation
Mitchell-Wiedenfeld Funeral Home, Baltimore MD 1837 6th generation
Wilbert Funeral Home, Plaquemine LA 1850 6th generation
Smith & Sons Funeral Homes, Columbia City IN 1851 5th generation
Davis Funeral Chapel, Leavenworth KS 1855 6th generation
Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Services, Columbus OK 1855 5th & 6th generations
Laufersweiler-Sievers Funeral Homes, Fort Dodge IA 1856 5th generation
Quinn Funeral Homes, Warwick RI 1857 4th generation
J. Henry Stuhr, Charleston SC 1865 5th generation
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Century Club congratulations go out to The Claflin Company, which started in 1817 as an apothecary in Providence, Rhode Island. Today it is recognized as one of the medical distribution industry's leading independent firms with a reputation for innovative service programs. Best wishes for your third century!
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
2017 will see the following 13 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!
|San Antonio Winery|
|Vinson & Elkins|
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Many thanks to the many people who have purchased my book or read this blog and contacted me (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
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
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
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.