Monday, April 28, 2014

At Least 5 U.S. Generational Companies Over 200 Years Old

In my research to find U.S. companies that qualify for membership in the Henokeins Association, I have identified five so far.  Membership requirements are that the company must have been in operation for over 200 years, managed by a descendant of the founder, and the family still owns the company - or at least the majority shares.  Here are my candidates:

The Avedis Zildjian Company was founded in Istanbul by Armenian Avedis Zildjian in the 17th century.  In 1929 Avedis III moved the cymbal company to America and it is currently located in Norwell, Massachusetts. At nearly 400 years old, Zildjian is currently run by fifteenth generation heirs and is generally recognized as the oldest family-owned business in the United States.

Seaside Inn was established in Kennebunkport, Maine some time before 1667 by John Gooch. Gooch arrived in the Cape Neddick area in 1637, commissioned by an agent of King Charles II to "reside on the ocean-front peninsula at the mouth of the Kennebunk River and ferry travelers across the River."  The inn has been in continuous operation by the Gooch family since its inception and is currently owned by the twelfth generation descendants.

Laird & Company is likely America's oldest distillery. William Laird emigrated to New Jersey from Scotland in 1698. While in Scotland it is believed that he was involved in the production of Scotch and upon his arrival in America applied his skills to the most abundant natural resource available in the area…apples.  Thus began his production of Applejack: the first known commercial record of Applejack sale was in 1780.  During  Prohibition, sixth and seventh generation Lairds kept the company running by producing other apple products (including "medicinal" apple brandy).  During World War II the plant was converted to dehydrated apple products to aid in the war effort, but all along the art of producing Applejack was passed on through the generations and today an eighth generation Laird runs the company. 

Billed as America's oldest hardwood lumber business, Alan McIlvain Company was founded by Hugh McIlvain in 1798.  Located south of Philadelphia, generations of the McIlvain family have provided lumber and millwork all over the world. The company survived the Embargo Act of 1807, the Civil War, and a fire that destroyed its lumberyard in 1906.  Providing lumber to shipyards during both World Wars, then closing its retail store to sell only to industrial clients in 1946, today the company is thriving and seventh generation family members have joined the company with plans to keep the business in the family well into the future.

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