Monday, May 13, 2019
The 2nd edition of my book, first published in 2016, is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It includes an updated list of Century Club companies, which now total over 1,000. I have also added answers to a few more questions I have received about my research as well as some graphics sorting the company list by state, public/private, and generational ownership. I hope you enjoy the stories about these remarkable companies that have survived for over 100 years.
Out of nine firms celebrating their 170th anniversaries this year, two have remained in the family for five generations: Hemp's Meats (www.hempsmeats.com) has been providing top quality meats to Jefferson, Maryland and surrounding areas since 1849.
And Pennsylvania furniture retailer Teeter's Furniture (www.teetersfurniture.com) has also run a funeral business over the years.
In 1849 it was not that unusual for a small town cabinetmaker to also serve as undertaker. But the Teeter family has managed to continue doing both businesses for 170 years and that is remarkable.
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Astoria Pepsi-Cola bottler Van Dusen Beverages claims to be Oregon's oldest business. Established in 1849 as Van Dusen Mercantile, they have been a Pepsi and Dr. Pepper bottler since 1947. Today they offer a wide range of beverages as well as chips and snacks and are still owned by the Van Dusen family. Century Club congratulations on your 170th Anniversary!
Monday, February 4, 2019
1869 Often referred to as the Reconstruction Era, the United States was struggling to recover from the Civil War. These nine companies began operations and have continued serving customers for 150 years.
Baker Boyer is a Walla Walla, Washington based financial institution. Founded in 1869, it was the first bank in what would become the State of Washington 20 years later.
Campbell's is still based in Camden New Jersey where it began making soups 150 years ago. Now they sell a number of food products in over 100 countries around the world.
In 1869 the Connecticut Legislature approved the charter of Dime Savings Bank of Norwich. This was a time when banking was not always available to the working class, so a group of local businessmen established a mutual savings bank. Today, Dime is still owned by its depositors.
Elmira Savings Bank, organized as a mutual bank in 1869, has converted a public company with its stock available on NASDAQ but still proudly operates as an independent community bank headquartered in Elmira, New York.
Founded by Marcus Goldman in 1869 (son-in-law Samuel Sachs joined him in 1882), Goldman Sachs has grown into one of the largest investment banking enterprises in the world.
Graybar is an industrial and electrical supply distributor based in Clayton, Missouri. It is one of the largest employee-owned companies in the United States.
Gustav Goelitz came to the U.S. in 1866 and in 1869 started a confectionery business. Known initially for candy such as candy corn, the company expanded into jelly beans in the 1960s. In 2001 the company known for four generations by the family name, renamed itself after their most popular product.
Mohonk Mountain House is a spa resort in New York's Hudson Valley, 90 miles north of New York City. Founded by Albert Smiley in 1869, this Victorian castle continues to thrive 150 years later under 4th & 5th generations of the Smiley family.
The Vindicator Printing Company is based in Youngstown, Ohio. Best know for its daily newspaper, The Vindicator, it also runs other media.
Friday, January 25, 2019
Ashaway Line & Twine
Ashaway is best know as the only U.S. manufacturer of world-class racket strings, but it is also a leader in medical threads and custom braided products. Started in 1824 by Captain Lester Crandall to manufacture fishing line, the Rhode Island company is still in the Crandall family -- including the seventh generation.
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Hanover, Maryland firm George R. Ruhl & Son has been providing high quality bakery supplies to the mid-Atlantic states since starting as a flour and feed mill in 1789. Typical of Century Club companies, they say "although we continually adapt to the changing marketplace and invest in modern technologies to deliver even better service, we always hold true to the original family values that have always been at the heart of the company." Congratulations on your 230th anniversary!
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
When you think about it, you kinda want to do business with an insurance company that has been around a while. These two started in 1794 and are still going strong today.
On January 21, 1794, a number of respectable citizens assembled to establish a fire insurance company similar to that created in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin. This meeting gave rise to the birth of the Baltimore Equitable Society. Policy Number 1 was issued on April 10, 1794 to Humphrey Pierce on his three-story brick house on Baltimore Street. By the end of its first year of operation, the Society was incorporated, making it older than Baltimore City itself, which was not incorporated until three years later.
Today, A.M. Best Company, which evaluates the financial stability of insurance companies, has rated Baltimore Equitable Society A - Excellent., meaning in Best's opinion, BEI has an excellent ability to meet their ongoing insurance obligations.
"That the citizens of this state may insure their buildings against losses and damages occasioned accidentally by fire and that the insured pay the losses and expenses, each his share, according to the sum insured." So reads the 1794 charter for the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia
A mutual insurance company is owned and operated by its policyholders. It is run for their exclusive benefit. There are no stockholders. Each policyholder has a voice in the affairs of the company. Collectively, they elect its board of directors who, in turn, elect the officers who serve as the active managers of the business. Pure mutuals continue to operate in substantially the same manner they did when they began. Today’s economic challenges and technological changes must still be addressed, but the underlying concepts and principles remain.
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Located in Strasburg, Pennsylvania Bachman Funeral Home is an 8th generation family business. Established in 1769 it can lay claim to being the oldest continuously operating funeral service in the United States: 250 years, 8 generations - lots to celebrate!
Monday, January 21, 2019
Celebrating Collins' 175th anniversary and the company's commitment to continued operations and service to their communities is especially notable since the one other company that would have celebrated 175 years in 2019, Harden Furniture, ceased operations last year. The 5th generation company was acquired through a foreclosure auction by a capital investment group and its later sale to a manufacturer intending to continue it as a brand product line fell through, according to Furniture Today.
Thursday, January 17, 2019
All four companies reaching their 180th anniversary this year are family owned and operated, two are 6th generation of the founding family. Join me in congratulating these amazing businesses.
E.B. Horn Jewelers is Boston's oldest jewelry store. Founded by clock and watchmaker Edwin Horn, the business is now owned and operated by 3rd generation Finn family cousins (the Finn family bought the store from the Horn family in the 1940s), with the 4th generation involved as well. A large grandfather clock built by Edwin Horn still stands in the store.
Moulton Ladder & Supply Company of Philadelphia is another 3rd generation business celebrating 180 years in 2019. Perhaps the oldest ladder company in the U.S., it was the first manufacturer of wooden ladders and has evolved into a wholesaler of all types of industrial ladders and scaffolds.
Sixth generation Schaeffer Manufacturing Company of St. Louis started out providing greases and oils for wagon trains and steamboats. Today, Schaeffer's Specialized Lubricants have a achieved world-class reputation for improving engine performance and fuel economy, plus they offer a diverse line of industrial lubricants, greases, and oils.
Another 6th generation company celebrating 180 years in business is Suter's Handcrafted Furniture of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Founded by Swiss master craftsman Daniel Suter, today they still create heirloom furniture meant to last a lifetime.
Read more about how companies such as these four have managed for long-term success in my book Lessons from Century Club Companies: Managing for Long-Term Success available on Amazon.
Monday, January 14, 2019
185 may not be a normal "benchmark" year, but when your company has been in continuous operation for that long, it is certainly reason for celebration. Andrew Jackson was President of just 24 United States when these firms began. Congratulations to these five: survival truly is the ultimate performance measure!
New York based Champion Sailmakers is run by 5th & 6th generation family engaged in the "world of canvas." As with many Century Club companies, their business has changed over the years but their commitment to producing high quality marine canvas products has stayed the same.
Still an independent local newspaper, the Galena Gazette is privately-owned and operated serving their northwestern Illinois community.
Maine's Hingham Institution for Savings is one of America's oldest banks. Though now a publicly traded stock, HIFS remains proudly independent and committed to "community, family, and local businesses."
Hinkle Chair Company is a 5th (& 6th) generation family owned and operated furniture manufacturer located in Greenbrier TN, Check out their rockers, benches, porch swings and other fine furniture.
The fifth celebrant is law firm McGuireWoods LLP of Richmond VA. From the founding in 1834, they now have over 1,000 lawyers in 22 offices across the U.S. and Europe.
Monday, January 7, 2019
Century Club congratulations go out to S.W. Collins Co., a thriving 5th generation lumber and building supply dealer founded 1844 in Aroostook County, Maine. Visit their website to see how they are celebrating this amazing milestone: https://swcollins.com/
Friday, January 4, 2019
New Jersey based dancker started in 1829 making roll-top desks. Today they are an "integrated interior solutions" provider serving New York, DC and Baltimore as well.
5th generation D.G. Yuengling & Son is the oldest operating independent brewery in the U.S. (Though Laird & Company, 1780, is the oldest distiller.) Based in PA, Yuengling celebrated their 100th anniversary in 1929 during Prohibition -- by producing near beer.
Thursday, January 3, 2019
200 years in business - what an accomplishment! Kudos to these two firms founded in 1819 on two centuries of serving customers, taking care of employees, and contributing to their communities.
The Jacob Bromwell Company is a specialty manufacturer of American-made kitchenware, housewares, and heritage products (popcorn poppers, flour sifters and tin cups). And take a look at their copper Moscow Mule mug!
Cravath, Swaine & Moore is a New York City law firm widely considered one of the most prestigious in the world. Since 2017 it has been ranked the #1 law firm in the U.S.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Though I hope to discover more as the year goes on, let's start the year with congratulations to these companies founded in 1919 and still going strong:
Crescent Electric Supply Company is a privately-owned electrical equipment wholesaler based in East Dubuque IL
Third generation Durkee-Mower Inc. of Lynn, MA is best know for their Marshmallow Fluff, which they have been producing since 1920.
Fourth generation Elebash's Jewelers has been a fixture of downtown Pensacola, FL since 1919 when two Elebash brothers purchased Lindenstruth Jewelers and renamed the store Elebash's.
Max Gordon is the 3rd generation owner-operator of Max Gordon Auto Parts & Battery Mart in Racine WI, a business started by his grandfather, Max, in 1919.
Grand Rapids, MI based Rowerdink is one of the largest wholesale auto parts distributors in the Midwest, led by John Rowerdink (I need help with generation of ownership)
With the invention of the 1st practical electric hair clipper in 1919, 3rd generation Wahl Clipper Corp of Sterling, IL has been a leader in home and professional grooming.