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The 40 Generation Family Business?

Can you imagine a business lasting 3 generations?  Perhaps you’ve heard the adage:  shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in 3 generations.  In America, it’s an astonishing failure rate in generation 2—70% and in generation 3 a whopping over-85% failure rate.

So is it hard to imagine 40 generations?

William O’Hara wrote Centuries of Success, a book chronicling family business with literally generations of success, including the following:

Kongo Gumi, founded 578, Osaka, Japan–this construction company builds and repairs religious temples.

Hoshi Ryokan, found 718, Komatsu, Japan—this family runs a hotel in Komatsu which houses 450 people in 100 rooms.

Chateau de Goulaine, founded 1000, Haute Goulaine, France—this castle houses a butterfly collection and museum and still operated by the original family.

Barone Ricasoli, founded 1141, Siena, Italy—this family business is focused upon wine production and olive growing.

John Brooke & Sons, founded 1541, Huddersfield, United Kingdom—this family business started out providing fabrics for British troops but now runs an entrepreneurial development park.

Eduard Meier, founded 1596, Munich, Germany—this shoe company carries over 4,500 items.

Zildjian Cymbal Company, founded 1623, Norwell, Massachusetts—this company was originally founded in Constantinople but the family arrived in the United States in 1909 and still manufactures cymbals.

What makes these companies successful?  It’s an enduring commitment to family, the family story and family values.

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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