Thursday, January 15, 2015

20 Companies Founded in 1890 to Celebrate 125 Years in Business During 2015

Over the next few days I'll be profiling the companies in my corporate longevity data base that will celebrate their 125th anniversary this year. My records show 20 companies on this list, but if you know of more I would love to hear about them. Since less than one-half of one percent of businesses survive to be 100 years old, reaching 125 is true cause for celebration. Here they are, in alphabetical order.
  1. A.M. Castle of Oak Brook, Illinois
  2. Ameriana Bancorp of Newcastle, Indiana
  3. A. Tenenbaum Co. of North Little Rock, Arkansas
  4. Banner Corporation of Walla Walla, Washington
  5. Bartell Drugs Pharmacy in Seattle, Washington
  6. Conns Inc. of The Woodlands, Texas
  7. Emerson Electric Co. of St. Louis, Missouri
  8. First State Bank of Warren, Arkansas
  9. Fluor Corp. of Irving, Texas
  10. Gillig of San Francisco, California
  11. Great Lakes Dredge & Dock of Oak Brook, Illinois
  12. Hardinge, Inc. of Elmira, New York
  13. J. Levine Co. of NYC, NY
  14. Lee Enterprises Inc. of Davenport, Iowa
  15. Marshalltown Company of Marshalltown, Iowa
  16. Oliver Products Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan
  17. Stifel Financial Corp. in St. Louis, Missouri
  18. Suffolk Bancorp of Riverhead, New York
  19. Sundt Construction in Tempe, Arizona
  20. Teufel Nursery in Portland, Oregon

A.M. Castle is a global distributor of specialty metal and plastics products and supply chain services. It is a public company (NYSE:CAS) operating from more than 54 facilities around the world. Their website says they have a rich heritage dating back to its founding by Alfred M. Castle in 1890 in the Chicago area. As is the case with many 100-year-old companies, they say A.M. Castle has withstood the test of time, including challenges brought on by rapid changes in their industry and economic uncertainty, by focusing on the needs of their customers and providing innovative solutions. Congratulations on reaching your 125th anniversary!

Ameriana Bancorp is a bank with offices throughout central Indiana. Founded in 1890, with their culture of community, prudence, and innovation they reflect several of the key tenets members of the "corporate century club"say have enabled their survival for over 100 years. Though a publicly-traded stock (NASDAQ:ASBI), they have not lost sight of what it takes to thrive for the long term. Congratulations on reaching your 125th anniversary in 2015!

A. Tenenbaum Co. - now TRG: Tenenbaum Recycling Group - is a full service scrap metal processing and recycling company with multiple locations in Arkansas. Over the last 125 years TRG has grown from a small scrap iron and metal business to one of the largest corporations in Arkansas. A fourth generation Tenenbaum is today's chairman. Reflective of many qualities of the corporate century club, TRG pledges to continue to help provide a cleaner environment, preserve natural resources, and provide employment for their dedicated employees.

Banner Bank was founded in 1890 in Walla Walla, Washington and is now a public company (NASDAQ:BANR) with over 90 locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. Carrying out their motto of "Do the right thing" includes giving back to their communities, helping to make them better places to live and work. My hope is that they will be able to keep their values intact as the complete the planned merger with AmercanWest bank this year.

Bartell Drugs is a family-owned chain of pharmacy stores in Washington state. This Seattle-based business now has over 60 stores throughout the state and is run by third and fourth generation Bartell family members. As with so many other members of the "Corporate Century Club," Bartells credits commitment to their philosophy of doing business (focus on the customer experience and provide a great place to work for employees) as the primary reason for their success and longevity. Congratulations on 125 years in business!

Conn's is a chain of electronics and appliance stores based in Texas. Founded in 1890 as a plumbing and heating company, they have evolved and changed over the years and are now a public company (NASDAQ:CONN) with 90 stores throughout the country - that's a lot of places to hold anniversary parties!

Emerson Electric (NYSE:EMR) is a global manufacturing and technology company based in St. Louis, Missouri. Emerson describes itself as a company "where engineering and technology come together to create solutions" for the benefit of their customers. The company was established in 1890 by John W. Emerson to make electric motors and became the first to sell electric fans in the United States. It quickly expanded into other electric tools and, though many 100 year old companies remain small, Emerson has seen success through growth: They are now a $25 billion company with 115,000 employees and 220 manufacturing locations worldwide.Though there isn't much about their history on the corporate website, I hope they take the opportunity to celebrate 125 years of business success during 2015.

Founded in 1890 as the Merchant and Planters Bank in Bradley County Arkansas, First State Bank has survived an early robbery (in 1896), the Great Depression, and the 2008 financial crisis to celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2015. Building on a tradition of "integrity, service, and community" First State has locations in Warren, Hermitage, and Hampton, Arkansas.

Though the Fluor website tracks their beginnings to 1912 when the Fluor brothers set up their construction company in California, one could argue that what is now Fluor Corporation was founded 1890 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin by the Fluor brothers as a saw and paper mill. No matter the date one counts as the beginning, in the last 100 years the company has moved (now headquartered in Irving, Texas) and grown into a multi-billion dollar global engineering and construction firm traded on the NYSE (FLR). Its stock is a component of the S&P500.

GILLIG was founded in 1890 as a wagon and carriage shop in San Francisco. The company gradually evolved through production of different types of transportation vehicles and today focuses on heavy-duty, low-floor transit buses. Throughout the 125 years they have remained family-owned and focused on their valued employees and customers, connecting communities and contributing to a greener environment - all very representative of the characteristics of so many businesses that have thrived for over 100 years.  Congratulations!

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock was founded as a partnership in 1890 to construct an offshore tunnel expanding Chicago's water intake. It expanded quickly and today is the largest U.S. provider of construction services in the area of dredging and land reclamation, working on many notable projects around the globe. They are a publicly-traded company (NASDAQ:GLDD) based in Oak Brook, Illinois. Hope they take the time to celebrate their 125th anniversary!

Hardinge, Inc. is a global machine tool maker providing a wide range of solutions to a variety of industries. Headquartered in Elmira, New York, Hardinge is a public company (NASDAQ:HDNG) best known for its lathes, both CNC and non-CNC. There's not much about their history on the corporate website, so I hope they decide to document the company's past 125 years as they celebrate this special milestone.

Truly a unique member of this 125th anniversary "club" is J. Levine Co., a retail store in New York City that has long been the destination for Jewish books and ceremonial art and objects. Five generations ago, the company was founded in Lithuania and moved to New York in 1905. Now located in midtown Manhattan, Levine's has earned the reputation as the ultimate Judaica store. Pride in their work is evident on the website where they proclaim what a delight it is to be celebrating over 100 years and five generations in the Levine family business.

Now a publicly-traded media company (NYSE:LEE), Lee Enterprises was founded in Iowa by A.W. Lee in 1890. Operating primarily in midsize markets, Lee publishes 46 daily newspapers along with rapidly growing digital products and nearly 300 specialty publications. Exhibiting an example of the innovativeness of many old companies, their Davenport, Iowa newspaper was the first in the world to be produced entirely by computer.

The origins of the Marshalltown Company (based in Marshalltown, Iowa) go back to 1890 when a local inventor and entrepreneur received a visit from a local stonemason wanting a better trowel for the masons working on the town's courthouse. Thus began this company that has grown to be one of the world's largest manufacturers of construction tools. (It is said their trowels are also the favored tool of archaeologists.)

Oliver Products Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan is a privately-owned diverse manufacturer offering products in three categories: food packaging, bakery equipment, and medical device & pharmaceutical packaging. Founded in 1890 as a woodworking equipment company, their expertise with blades led to the introduction of the first bread slicer in 1932. They have built on their reputation for quality equipment design and manufacturing to celebrate 125 years in 2015. Congratulations!

I'm pretty sure Stifel, the full-service brokerage and investment baking firm, will be celebrating their 125th anniversary this year because they already have a video posted on their website ( Begun as a single office in St. Louis, today Stifel has a growing network of offices across the United States. They are a public firm (NYSE:SF) that not only survived the 2008 financial crisis, but grew and thrived. My guess is that they were able to do this by sticking to the strategies common to most 100-year-old firms (see previous blog posts). Their motto since founding in 1890: "Safeguard the money of others as if it's our own."
Another public financial institution, Suffolk Bancorp (NASDAQ:SUBK), turns 125 this year. Suffolk is a one-bank holding company providing commercial banking and financial services through Suffolk County National Bank. Its headquarters are in Riverhead, New York and it serves the Long Island market. As with so many 100-year-old companies, Suffolk is known for its culture of active community involvement.

The only 100 percent employee-owned company on our list of 125-year-old companies is Sundt Construction, Inc. Starting in 1890 by Norwegian ship carpenter Mauritz Sundt  building homes and farm structures until he was hired to build a church in 1929. Based in Tempe, Arizona over the decades Sundt has grown and diversified both geographically and in the types of projects constructed/ It is consistently listed as one of the 100 largest contractors in the U.S.
Number 20 on the list of companies celebrating their 125th anniversary in 2015 is Teufel Nursery, a fourth-generation family-owned landscaping company based in Oregon. Founded in 1890, the company and its 200 employees install and maintain landscaping for commercial, government, and residential customers. Congratulations to all!


  1. This is very nice informative blog in which you discuss about the companies which celebrates successful completion of the 125 years.

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  2. Well running a business is not a difficult task for me, as I am also an entrepreneur. Every year in my company we plan an annual party and the corporate event planning always done by a famous planner. Everyone enjoy the party with great fun.

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