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Monday, April 22, 2024

The World’s Oldest Businesses’ Secrets, Some Dating Back To 803 and 578 AD


<p>Tokyo: The typical American company shuts down after twenty-one years. (Remember to pray for the businesses on the tail end of the bell curve that never make it to the legal drinking age.) On the other hand, some companies endure much longer.</p>
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<p>Consider the Italian pharmacy Santa Maria Novella, which has been perfumed by the nobility since Michelangelo painted ceilings, or the Japanese construction enterprise Kongo Gumi, which was established in 578 A.D. These companies have accumulated more than enough experience to provide some longevity lessons.</p>
<p>Since 578, Kongo Gumi Co.<br />
Lesson: Pick a specialty and stick with it</p>
<p>Kongo Gumi was the longest continuously running corporation in the world until 2006, when it became a part of Takamatsu Construction Group.</p>
<p>It continues to operate in a very antiquated manner even as a subsidiary. Restoration of old structures, including Buddhist temples, is its area of expertise.</p>
<p>Workers may get training for up to ten years, and during that period, they would be pitted against one another to discover who could work with clay and wood the most expertly. This was done in order to construct temples.</p>
<p>“I believe that’s where things have gotten lost in a lot of other customs or vocations because people weren’t interested or some of that craftsmanship was actually devalued,” says Georgia Institute of Technology architecture professor Danielle Willkens. Kongo Gumi has become crucial to the preservation of Japanese architecture via the continued use of these methods.</p>
<p>Founded in 803, St. Peter Stiftskulinarium<br />
The lesson is to not be frightened to experiment.</p>
<p>Over 1,200 years have passed since St. Peter Stiftskulinarium in Salzburg, Austria, delighted diners with one of Europe’s greatest wine collections, as noted by one of Charlemagne’s courtiers. It’s one of such restaurants, if not the oldest in the world.</p>
<p>The restaurant’s origins may be traced back to the wine cellar, which was constructed to house the monks’ valuables in the adjoining monastery, according to St. Peter’s public relations manager Nora Wunderwald. Ultimately, she argues, the restaurant’s clientele—which over the ages has included Faust, Mozart, and Karl Lagerfeld, who Chanel feted there—needed something to eat in addition to their wine.</p>
<p>The present owners of the establishment, Veronika Kirchmair and Claus Haslauer, have made it a point to provide more than just schnitzel and strudel on the menu. The menu for this month has char confit fillet, Wellington with artichokes, and a breakfast dish that would have astounded Charlemagne and his fellow countrymen.</p>
<p>Since 1135, The Olde Bell<br />
The Takeaway: Service shouldn’t change, but furniture may</p>
<p>Once upon a time, maybe in the days of King Stephen (who fought his cousin Matilda, the Holy Roman Empress), you might drive up to the Olde Bell Hotel, some thirty-five miles outside of London, expecting to get a pint of ale and a piece of bread to dip into your stew. Then you would fall asleep on a mattress filled with horsehair, and the next day you would continue your journey across medieval England.</p>
<p>The concept that every tired and thirsty traveler deserves a place to rest and a pint of ale hasn’t changed since then, according to sales manager Debi Hayes, “except we’ve got comfier mattresses now!” The Olde Bell has grown to include more guest rooms and a nuclear fallout shelter-turned-wine cellar. The hotel’s comfortable rooms and cozier bar, where portions of the old walls are covered with glass to keep them stable, have hosted notable figures such as Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor, Boris Karloff, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. History, after all, breeds more history.</p>
<p>With a pharmacy dating back to 1542, Santa Maria Novella was established in 1612.<br />
The lesson is that signature items are such for a purpose.</p>
<p>According to Gian Luca Perris, CEO and “nose” of Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, the most iconic scent of the company is closely associated with its most well-known client, Catherine de’ Medici.</p>
<p>One of Santa Maria Novella’s best-selling items is still Acqua della Regina, which has musk at its base and top notes of petitgrain. It offers modern consumers a chance to relive some of the romance and glitz of bygone eras. As to Perris’s account, in 1533, the princess brought a perfume maker who was said to have been raised by the friars of Santa Maria Novella along for the wedding.</p>
<p>The friars had long experimented with fragrant waters, which were believed to ward off the plague, and they lived in the monastery of the Church of Santa Maria Novella. Catherine was a patron and a kind of inspiration to the pharmacy; her perfumier was ready to produce his biggest perfume yet for her marriage smell. Catherine was perhaps the most well-known “it” girl of the sixteenth century.</p>
<p>“For their upcoming marriage,” Perris states, “he created a bridal gift for Catherine’s future husband: a perfume that enchanted the courts of France by embodying Florence’s elegance and grace.”</p>
<p>Founded in 1818, Brooks Brothers<br />
Lesson: Pay attention to your primary clientele.</p>
<p>Originally a modest clothing manufacturer and retailer in Lower Manhattan, Brooks Brothers has been providing prep school kids and Wall Street bankers with starched shirts and blue blazers for two centuries. The company also invented the ready-to-wear suit and covered downtown office cores with retail locations stocked with pocket squares and ties in case of emergency emergencies.</p>
<p>For a firm that relied on consumers feeling the urge to dress up, Ken Ohashi’s takeover of the business in late 2020 was an odd one. Ohashi believed that the secret to surviving Covid quarantines was to determine what his devoted followers would want to see more of.</p>
<p>What was needed, he claims, was casual attire. Products like big, striped rugby shirts and corduroy trousers with cute hunting dog embroidery now make up 40% of the company’s sales, up from 20% prior to the epidemic. But Brooks Brothers clothing is made the Brooks Brothers manner, Ohasi emphasizes. “Our core customer loves our sweatpants,” he states, “because you can get them monogrammed.”</p>
<p>In 1823, Consolidated Edison was founded as the New York Gas Light Co.<br />
The Instruction: Wherever you are, you are</p>
<p>The oldest continually running firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange is ConEd, an energy supplier for New York City and several of the neighboring counties. It even dates back before Thomas Edison, who was born in 1847 and whose name would eventually become associated with the New York Gas Light Co.</p>
<p>The New York Steam Co., which was renamed in the early 1880s, was well-positioned to play a significant role in the late 19th-century electrified New York City, having controlled the gas light business across Manhattan (with some assistance from Tammany Hall’s bosses). It was not, however, the only company aiming for (literal) power.</p>
<p>In the 1890s, over thirty firms attempted to provide Westchester County and New York with electricity for residential and commercial use.</p>
<p>According to Dan Taft, a chief engineer in the central for ConEd, “when laying the original electric feeder cables in the streets of Lower Manhattan in 1882, Edison was so impressed with the quality of the pipe-laying work being done simultaneously by the New York Steam Co. that he made arrangements to send surplus steam from his Pearl Street Station into the steam system, thereby becoming the very first co-generator.”</p>
<p>The competition was mostly eliminated by the mid-1920s, becoming ConEd (the official name was adopted in 1936) the only supplier of electricity in a high-demand metropolis.</p>


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