Celebrating 100-year-old businesses

In preparing an ad promoting the LBM Century Club (see page 90) for this month’s issue, I was reminded of another time in my career when I wrote about 100-year-old businesses. Sometime around the turn of the millennium, when I was a wet-behind-the-ears, small-town newspaper reporter, the Minnesota Farm Bureau was honoring a family farm in our area that had been in operation for more than 100 years. The farmers received a sign for their driveway designating them a Century Farm, as well as a certificate signed by the governor, and an invitation to a special presentation at the Minnesota State Fair.

When news like that hits a community newspaper in ag country, the farm family gets featured in a front-page centerpiece. At the dairy farm interviewing them for the story, I learned that four generations worked on the farm. Aged from middle school to great-grandparent, the family was made up of three separate households, two of which lived on homes just yards apart on the farmstead (the great-grandparents aged-out to a rambler in town, but still drove to the farm to supervise). On most days all four generations worked side-by-side from sunup to sundown and had at least two of three meals together. That’s quite a close bond, and at the time I couldn’t think of another industry in which the heritage of the family business was honored and celebrated as much as the family farm…until I began covering the LBM industry. Since 2016, LBM Journal has promoted the LBM Century Club as our salute to the many 100-year-old businesses we’ve met over the years.

It’s not surprising that many of the Century Club members have similar stories as the Century Farm family. Children grow up working alongside their fathers and mothers, while grandpa and grandma run the front office. Then when the grandparents retire, everyone takes on a bit more responsibility with the hopes of one day sharing the workload—and the legacy—with the next generation.

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If you haven’t seen our roster of Century Club members, I encourage you to check it out at LBMJournal.com/century. There, you’ll see a link to all 171 members, the oldest business dating back to 1785. Of course, we don’t know for sure that Tinsman Bros. in Lumberville, Pennsylvania is the oldest lumberyard around, but we can say for certain that they’re the oldest on our list. If you think your company has them beat, by all means, please let us know. At the website mentioned above, you can also see a link to nominate a business for membership in the Century Club. If your company or a company you know of has been around since 1921 or earlier and they’re not already a member, please feel free to sign them up. We’ll handle the rest, which includes getting them the recognition they deserve, such as a certificate of membership, window clings for their store, free admission as guests of honor at the LBM Strategies Conference, and a press release to send to local media—which just might send some young reporter out to do a story on the community’s treasured family business. If you have any questions about the Century Club, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

— James Anderson

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