Friday, September 25, 2020

Iowa's Oldest Companies


Iowa has many Century Club companies - probably more than I have identified. Below are the 47 I have in my data base, only two of which are public; 30 are generational family firms. If you know of an Iowa-based business that has been in continuous, independent operation for 100 years or more, please let me know by posting a comment.

1852: Breitbach's Country Dining, Balltown 6th generation (restaurant)

1854: Hands Jewelers, Iowa City 4th generation (retail jeweler)

1854: Saboe Jewelry, West Union 2nd generation (retail jeweler)

1855: Morrison Brothers Company, Dubuque 3rd generation (manufacturing equipment)

1856: AY McDonald Manufacturing, Dubuque 5th generation (manufacturing medal products)

1856: Hubbell Realty, Des Moines 5th generation (construction & development)

1856: Laufersweiler-Sievers Funeral Home, Fort Dodge 5th generation (funeral services)

1866: Kurtz Hardware, Des Moines 5th generation (wholesale hardware)

1870: Klauer Manufacturing, Dubuque 5th generation (metal building products)

1870: Molo Companies, Dubuque 4th generation (petroleum/HVAC products & services)

1872: Chesterman Company, Sioux City 5th generation (beverage bottler & distribution)

1872: Russell Abstract & Title, Adel 5th generation

1872: Von Maur, Davenport 4th generation (department store)

1876: Decorah Greenhouses, Decorah private (retail florist)

1876: Lenz Monuments, Dubuque private (stone memorial products)

1877: Mechanical Air Systems, Mason City private (HVAC/plumbing contractor)

1878: Home Mutual Insurance Association of Carroll County, Manning mutual (insurance carrier)

1883: The Adams Company, Dubuque private (manufacturing metal parts)

1887: Cottingham & Butler, Dubuque 3rd & 4th generations (insurance broker)

1890: EJ Voggenthaler, Dubuque 4th generation (steel building materials)

1890: Engquist Lumber, Harcourt 4th generation (lumber & building materials)

1890: Marshalltown, Marshalltown private (manufacturing tools)

1891: H.L. Munn Lumber, Ames 5th generation (lumber & building materials)

1892: Geisler Brothers Company, Dubuque 5th generation (HVAC services)

1892: Seiffert Building Supplies, Davenport 2nd generation (lumber & building materials)

1893: Abeln Abstract & Title Company, Dubuque 2nd generation (real estate services)

1893: Mulgrew/Perfection Oil, Tamarack Park 4th generation? (petroleum products)

1893: West Bancorp, West Des Moines public (banking & financial services)

1894: Union-Hoeman Press, Dubuque 3rd generation (commercial printing)

1897: Kintzinger Harmon Konrady, Des Moines private (law firm)

1898: FEH Design, Des Moines private (architects)

1903: Conlon Construction, Dubuque 4th generation (construction)

1903: Lisle Corporation, Clarinda 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th generations (manufacturing tools)

1904: Hartig Drug, Dubuque 4th generation (retail drugstore)

1904: Spahn & Rose Lumber, Dubuque 4th generation (lumber & building materials)

1905: Atlantic Bottling, Clarinda 3rd generation (beverage bottling & distribution)

1905: Farmers Lumber, Rock Valley co-op (lumber & building materials)

1907: Smith Funeral Homes and Cremation Service, Grinnell 5th generation (funeral services)

1909: Bauman's, Mount Vernon private (retail apparel)

1910: Fidelity Bank & Trust, Dyersville private (banking & financial services)

1910: Remsen Farmers Cooperative, Remsen co-op (agricultural services)

1911: Employers Mutual Casualty, Des Moines public (insurance carrier)

1914: American Pop Corn (Jolly Time), Sioux City 4th generation (popcorn & snacks)

1916: Lime Rock Springs/Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Dubuque, Dubuque 4th generation (beverage bottling & distribution)

1917: G&L Clothing, Des Moines private (retail apparel)

1920: O'Conner, Brooks & Co., Dubuque private (CPA/accounting services)

1920: Two Rivers Cooperative, Pella co-op (agricultural services)

1920s: Carter Printing, Des Moines 4th generation? (printing & publishing)

[1925: Pella Corporation, Pella 3rd generation? (building products)]

Learn more about how these companies managed to thrive for a century and more in my book Lessons From Century Club Companies: Managing for Long-Term Success available  in paperback and as an eBook from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

How Rare Is It For A Company To Reach 100 Years?

I asked this question on my blog several years ago and decided it was time to update the answer now that I have done more research. Since that post, several companies founded after 1915 have joined the Century Club and, as one might expect, a few others have fallen away. As of 2020 I have identified at least 1200 businesses that have been in continuous, independent operation for 100 years or more. Though that is double the number in my original post on this topic, it is still just 0.02% of all companies in operation in the U.S. Less than 15% of Century Club members are public companies and of those privately-held, over 60% are generational family firms. The companies that make it to their 100th anniversary have found a way to prosper through world wars, economic depression and recessions, environmental disasters, changes in government regulations, globalization, quantum leaps in technology, and major shifts in social and cultural values. Decisions made long ago about company values and culture, investments, and relationships are what will help enable them through the crisis of 2020. Survival, not short-term profits or growth, may be the ultimate performance measure. 

Thursday, September 3, 2020



Indiana is the next mid-west state to highlight Century Club Companies and they have at least 24: five of them are public and 14 are generational family firms (61%). If you know of an Indiana company that has been in continuous, independent operation for 100 years or more and is not on this list, please post a comment!

1851: Smith & Sons Funeral Homes, Columbia City 5th generation (funeral services)

1863: 1st Source, South Bend public (banking & financial services)

1872: Lakeland Financial, Warsaw public (banking & financial services)

1873: Horizon Bancorp, Michigan City public (banking & financial services)

1876: Eli Lilly, Indianapolis public (pharmaceuticals)

1885: Clay City Pottery, Clay City 5th & 6th generations (stoneware)

1885: Steinkamp Home Center, Huntingburg 4th generation? (lumber & building materials)

1891: First Bank of Berne, Berne private (banking)

1891: Kokomo Opalescent Glass, Kokomo 4th generation (glass products)

1901: Perfection Bakeries (Aunt Millie's), Fort Wayne 3rd generation (bakery products)

1902: Centra Supply Company, Indianapolis (wholesale plumbing, electrical, HVAC & tool supplies)

1905: Leon Tailoring, Indianapolis 3rd generation

1910: Urschel Laboratories, Chesterton 4th generation/ESOP (manufacture food processing machinery)

1913: E.F. Marburger Fine Flooring, Fishers 4th generation (retail building materials)

1913: Flinn & Maguire Funeral Home, Franklin 3rd generation (funeral services)

1913: Maco Press, Carmel 2nd generation (printing & publishing)

1913: Taylor's Bakery, Indianapolis 4th generation (retail bakery)

1914: Coney Island, Fort Wayne 3rd generation (restaurant)

1916: Ottenweller, Fort Wayne 4th generation (metal fabrication)

1917: Goudy Brothers Boiler, Kokomo 5th generation (maintenance & repair services)

1917: Ziker Cleaners, Mishawaka 4th generation (cleaning services)

1918: Lima Elevator, Howe co-op (agricultural services)

1919: Cummins, Columbus public (manufacture machinery)

1919: D-A Lubricant, Lebanon private (manufacture engineered products)

1920: Matthews Feed & Grain, Matthews co-op (agricultural services)

Want to learn more about how these and other Century Club Companies have managed to prosper for over 100 years? See my book based on 10 years of research: Lessons From Century Club Companies: Managing for Long-Term Success available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble online.