20 Incredibly Old Companies That Are Still Around Today
It is not unusual for many companies to last just a couple of years. In fact, research points out that even successful businesses will generally only manage to survive for around 50 years before being sold, disbanded or otherwise cease operating. In times of financial difficulty, such as the recession we are currently going through, when shops and companies are constantly going out of business it seems like it would be impossible for any to last more than 100 years. Yet many have.
For some of these companies it is easy to see exactly why they have managed to stay afloat for all of these years. They might have produced high quality products or provided much needed services that have always been in demand. In other cases though, it isn’t as clear cut how a business has lasted so long. What is clear, though, is that every single company featured on this list is far older than you could have imagined.
Sotheby’s is famous for being one of the biggest auction houses in the world today but it started life as a small auction for selling books by Englishman Samuel Baker in 1744. In that year it went on to sell the entire contents of Stanley’s library for just over £800 and has been operating as an auction house ever since, selling artwork, expensive luxury items and rarities to the highest bidder.
The British sure do love their tea so it makes sense that one of the oldest companies in the country would be one that specializes in creating tea. The business first set up shop in 1706 and has kept its headquarters in the same location and the same logo throughout all of its history, making it almost synonymous with the country.
The Royal Delft earthenware has been in active use for more than 350 years, having been established in 1653. It produces high quality pottery that puts mass produced vases to shame, and that is the reason that its CEO believes that the company has lasted so long. It also helps that the blue and white products have become famous worldwide and that the company has a seal of approval from the Dutch Royal Family.
The Shirley Plantation claims to be the oldest family-run business in the entire United States. It has been in operation since 1638, meaning it has revived the American Civil War, the American Revolution, the Great Depression and other significant events in the country’s history. It has passed through 11 generations of the family in its almost 400-year life.
Although it is far from the biggest brewer in the world, Grolsch has established itself as one of the leading makers of high quality premium lager. Sold in distinctive flip-top caps that can be resealed to keep the beer fresh, Grolsch first began producing alcohol in 1615 and operated independently for some 250 years before it was bought by a larger company. It now operates as a subsidiary.
Zildjian may well be a brand that you are familiar with if you have ever played the drums or any other percussion instrument as they are one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cymbals. Everyone from The Beatles to The Rolling Stones have used their cymbals in their music. Founded in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1623 the company was eventually moved to the US where it has grown in popularity.
Considered to be the oldest distillery of whiskey in the world, Bushmills has been creating the alcohol since 1608 when King James I gave permission to Thomas Philip to create whiskey in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Since then it has produced a variety of whiskey’s including its signature Irish Honey flavor.
Whitechapel Bell Foundry
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry has a long history of creating high quality bells for a number of important people, governments and members of royalty. It has provided its services for the likes of Westminster Abbey and created the famous Liberty Bell in Philadelphia that cracked when rang. The company has lasted almost 500 years, having begun trading in 1570.
Cambridge University Press
Pick up an academic book or important scientific work and there is a good chance it will have been printed by the Cambridge University Press. It is the world’s oldest publishing house and second in size as a university press after Oxford University Press. It was first established in 1534 when Henry VIII granted Cambridge University letters patent to begin printing material.
The name Beretta is probably familiar to a lot of people as it is the manufacturer of a good proportion of the guns that are seen in films and TV shows as well as in the hands of real-life armed personnel. The family-run business has been in operation since 1526 and now ships weapons all around the world thanks to its location amongst iron-rich mountains that provide all the raw materials it needs.
The Shore Porters Society
Located in Aberdeen, Scotland, the Shore Porters Society has been providing removals, haulage and storage services since 1498. It is officially the oldest transport company in the world and works in a variety of different industries, from helping people to move house to transporting valuable items from auction houses with its fleet of 30 lorries and vans
The Kremnica Mint has been minting coins for near enough 800 years. It began production in 1328 in Slovakia when the Hungarian King, Charles Robert of Anjou, gave the town permission to begin creating florins and ducats to be used in Europe. Coins created at the mint had a reputation for being of high quality and long lasting, ensuring that it would continue operations even after much of its machinery was destroyed by the Nazis in World War II.
While many cognac distilleries rely on importing grapes or buying them from growers, the Frapin distillery has its vineyards that mean it can monitor the entire process of making cognac from beginning to end. Little wonder then that it is widely considered to be one of the best example’s in the world and that it has survived since 1270.
Affligem Abbey Brewery
The Affligem Abbey Brewery has been brewing its special brand of beer for almost 1,000 years. Founded in 1074, the Belgian brewery used a distinctive recipe created by the monks who worked in the abbey. It was bought by Heineken in 2006, although it continues to operate in its original location, and its beers are now sent all around the world.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Since 1044, the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Krakow, Poland, has been digging salt out of the ground and shipping it all over the world. The main reason for its success is simply because of the large salt deposits it controlled and the fact that it is such a wanted commodity. While it no longer operates as a mining company, the building still remains and acta as a tourist destination that has managed to have visitors that include the Pope and Bill Clinton.
Humans have been brewing beer and other beverages for thousands of years so it should come as no surprise that some of the oldest companies still around now are breweries that have been able to supply an in-demand product. The Weihenstephan Brewery in Freising, Germany has done just that, providing one of the most respected beers in the world since 1040.
This bar in Athlone, Ireland, is doing little to stop the stereotypical view of the country as it is one of the oldest pubs in the world. Having been established in the year 900, it has continued to serve customers beer and other alcohol for more than a thousand years. It’s owners contribute the success to the location as it sits at an important intersection of the River Shannon that once offered safe passage across treacherous bogs.
Stiftskeller St. Peter
Stiftskeller St. Peter is a restaurant located in Salzburg, Austria. It has hosted royalty and famous figures from throughout history, including the likes of Bill Clinton and Charlemange. Considered one of the finest dining spots in the whole of Europe it first opened its doors as far back as 803.
Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan
This hot spring hotel is based in Yamanashi, Japan and has been in continuous operation since the year 705. The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes it as the oldest running hotel and it is certainly one of the oldest companies that is still in existence today. The business has passed down through the same family over 52 generations and roles within the inn are often passed down through the family.
Kongō Gumi was the world’s oldest continuously ongoing independent company until 2006. However, it hasn’t been completely disbanded, instead it was simply absorbed into Takamatsu and now operates as a subsidiary. Based in Osaka, the Japanese firm was a construction company that had operated since 578, meaning that it was constructing temples and other buildings for more than 1,400 years.