The Third Most Exclusive Club in the World
I have to believe the third most exclusive club is called the Henokiens--an association of family-owned businesses with 33 members in 2005. It has four requirements for membership:
* The company is managed by a descendant of the founder.
* The family still owns the company or is the majority shareholder.
* It must be in good financial health.
* The company has reached a minimum age of 200 years [sic!].
Where most family businesses seldom make it past three generations, you have to shake your head in wonderment at the achievement of the Henokiens.
The youngest member of the organization is Crespi, cotton and linen manufacturers in Ghemme, Italy, founded in 1797. These are toddlers in comparison to the Maurano glass makers of Barovier & Tosso, who have been around since 982, and the Hoshi Hotel in Ishikawa, Japan, which first opened its doors in 717.
Yep, they are still all in the family!
Henokiens are found in Italy (13), France (10), Germany (4), Japan (3), Holland (1), Spain (1) and Northern Ireland (1).
Apparently some American companies that fit the criteria have been identified, but have not sought admission to this elite organization.
For example, on Dec. 31, 2002, was Eric Pace's New York Times obituary of Armand Zildjian, 81, whose family company has been making cymbals in Massachusetts since 1623.
Extraordinary Corporate Culture
* Over the centures, how in the world did these families deal with quirky family members who wanted to cash out or who made made trouble or who were just plain untalented dolts or drunks or gamblers or who wanted nothing to do with the business?
* They had to continually change their business model to keep up with the times. Some, such as the vintners, did not have to make radical changes over the years. On the other hand, Viellard Migenon & Cie of France started out as iron mongers in the 17th century and morphed into making fish hooks and chains. According to the Henokiens Web site: "Today the products manufactured range from refracting steel screws for airplane engines, titanium rivets to vanadium fish hooks, cosmetics packaging and specific welding products."