Friday, February 25, 2011

1911 Was A Very Good Year

The stars must have been aligned in 1911 to provide the right conditions for company start-ups that last: I mentioned earlier that IBM is in their 100th year. This morning I received an email from my student researcher, who is at a 2-day interview process with Whirlpool, about an announcement at the opening session that Whirlpool is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year (which they call "Countdown to 11-11-11").

It looks like we will have a whole new group of companies to add to our data base - it will be interesting to see what these 'younsters' have in common with each other and whether they differ from those companies established prior to 1900. Companies such as King Arthur Flour, founded in 1790! Headquartered in Norwich, Vermont, King Arthur Flour is now an employee-owned company using open book management methods. They report the qualities that have enabled them to survive - and thrive - for over 200 years are:

  • honest enthusiasm and for what they do, which results in earned respect from all those with whom they do business;
  • a culture of inclusiveness that empowers everyone in their organization as partners; and
  • viewing making money as the by-product or result of doing things well, not the focal purpose of their business.


  1. I was at a presentation today by a company about to hit 50 years and they stated that only a tiny percentage (less than 1%) of all companies survive 50 years. That prompted me to wonder about what percentage of companies survive to 100? Are there more family owned or publicly owned companies that make it to 100 years?

  2. The average corporate "lifespan" has been calculated as 12-15 years. Many fail within the first few years, so if we recalculate to only look at companies that have survived the first decade, the average is more like 40 years. Yet some "live" to be 100 years and more. What other living species would tolerate such a gap between potential and reality? My next post will include the data from my research that answers your questions.