Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. Nine out of every 10 startups will fail within the first few years. There is little doubt the business world is difficult, and often cruel. Success requires more than simply a good idea; it means having moxie, a belief in innovation, a willingness to adapt and the ability to do what’s necessary to survive.
That’s why Smart Business launched the Business Longevity List.
So why 50 years as the ticket to entry? Simple. Fifty years ago, we lived in a completely different world.
Sure, technological advancements available in 1966 made our lives easier. But man had not yet landed on the moon, the personal computer and cellular phones were still more than a decade away, and mobile technology was a mere twinkle in the eyes of the innovators who were born in the late 1950s and early ’60s.
Reaching that 50-year mark is no small feat. In 1966, three of the five largest companies were automakers — GM, Ford and Chrysler — and four of the top 10 were oil companies — Exxon Mobil, Mobil, Texaco and Gulf Oil. The only “technology” company that cracked the top 10 in 1966 was IBM, at No. 11.
Today, however, multi-national holding companies such as Berkshire Hathaway and Koch Industries, banks like JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, and telecommunications firms like AT&T and Verizon dominate the landscape with such tech firms as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook.
Our inaugural list of Business Longevity honorees represents a wide spectrum of industries and sizes. These organizations have been doing business from 60 years to 167 years, and counting — a true testament to their ability to read and adapt to the marketplace.
The 21 honorees demonstrate the power of innovation and perseverance, as well as an innate ability to understand their respective customers and evolve to meet their needs. And, as you learn about them, we hope you’ll be inspired to look at your organization and figure out how you, too, will celebrate longevity milestones of your own.
Celebrating 167 years in business
While Matthews International Corp.’s products and practices have evolved during its history, at its core, it still adheres to the basic principles that always result in success.
Pittsburgh’s longest continually operating manufacturer was established in 1850 by John Dixon Matthews, an engraver from England. His goal was to become the pre-eminent provider of the highest quality identification products and services. His craftsmanship and service allowed his company to flourish, and by 1902 Matthews became a corporation.
In the early 1900s, James H. Matthews, the youngest son of the founder, introduced life insurance and profit distribution for employees — a truly progressive concept for its time. It was a logical extension of one of the company’s founding principles, “What’s good for employees is good for the company and that’s good for customers.”
Matthews’ growth continued throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. When the organization went public in 1994, it reported sales of $159 million. Matthews now boasts approximately $1.5 billion in sales and employs more than 10,000 people on six continents at 100-plus locations.
While the company is significantly larger and more diverse, Matthew’s goal today remains the same as it was in 1850. All employees — no matter their location, business segment or history with the company — continually strive to meet the needs of customers with high-quality products and services.
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Celebrating 162 years in business
Charles Colton moved to Pittsburgh with his family in 1850 to sell insurance. Colton recognized the need for a mutual bank to serve the interests of the working class — a place where they could safely deposit their money and have it invested prudently on their behalf. He persuaded 39 local business leaders to join him as incorporators of the Pittsburgh Dollar Savings Institution.
In 1855, the bank opened for business. For as little as $1, anyone could open a savings account. Colton was the only salaried employee for the first three-and-a-half years. In 1858, the bank changed its name to Dollar Savings Bank.
Dollar Bank has grown to become a large, full-service, regional bank committed to providing the highest quality banking services to individuals and businesses. Also, as the nation’s largest independent mutual bank, Dollar Bank has no shareholders and therefore is not driven by stock price.
Over the decades, the bank’s consistent leadership in technological innovation has given customers around-the-clock access to their accounts while maintaining security and privacy. Dollar Bank also has remained true to its founding principals: independence, service and community.
With continued, conservative and thoughtful management, inspired problem-solving and creative use of technology, Dollar Bank plans to be a preferred banking option for another 160 years.
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Celebrating 153 years in business
Since 1864, CONSOL Energy has been the power behind America.
It all started when several western Maryland coal operators decided to “consolidate” their holdings to form the Consolidation Coal Company, but operation of the new company was delayed until 1864 due to the Civil War.
CONSOL grew its existing operations and acquired coal mining companies and reserves throughout all of the major U.S. coalfields.
As markets for coal began to change after World War II, CONSOL Energy responded by, once again, expanding existing operations and acquiring other coal companies and reserves. CONSOL also turned to coal research and development for innovative ways to improve mine safety, production and utilization.
Today, CONSOL is one of the largest producers of national gas in the Appalachian basin. CONSOL’s employees help generate the fuels — natural gas and coal — that comprise two-thirds of the nation’s power supply.
The company also maintains the largest private R&D facility in the U.S. industry that is devoted exclusively to coal and energy utilization and production. This facility also focuses on energy development, improving energy efficiency and reducing pollution.
While the company has changed as the energy world has changed, its core values remain the same: safety, compliance and continuous improvement.
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Celebrating 148 years in business
The Kraft Heinz Co. is the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world. It’s now co-headquartered in Pittsburgh and Chicago after Kraft Foods Group and Heinz merged in 2015.
Its iconic brands include Kraft, Heinz, ABC, Capri Sun, Classico, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, Lunchables, Maxwell House, Ore-Ida, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia, Planters, Plasmon, Quero, Weight Watchers Smart Ones and Velveeta. These brands and more are sold in nearly 200 countries.
Many of Kraft Heinz’s trusted brands were developed over a century ago by entrepreneurs who created quality foods and placed consumer satisfaction first. Henry John Heinz started the H.J. Heinz Co. in 1869 and the company first introduced ketchup in 1871.
Kraft Heinz’ culture can be best summarized in one word: ownership. Its employees think and act like owners of the business, treating every dollar as if it were their own.
Management also recognizes and rewards outstanding performance at every level, in the true spirit of meritocracy. In 2014 alone, more than 1,000 employees were promoted as a result of their high performance and value creation.
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Celebrating 144 years in business
Over the past 50 years the pace of change has been phenomenal, especially in the printing industry.
Knepper Press Corp. has evolved by educating itself, taking risks, being flexible, adapting, improvising and attempting to be innovative leaders in its regional space. This takes time, lots of capital, and most importantly strong, smart and committed people.
Companies must be nimble and move quickly in this day and age. They must anticipate their customer’s needs, facilitate their ever-increasing demands for faster-to-market solutions at an ever-lower cost, and they must deliver.
Printing is the most custom-manufacturing business in the world — every job, every customer need, every project is unique.
Knepper Press’ current culture is different from the culture under Bill Knepper’s predecessors — his father and grandfather. Knepper has attempted to create a healthy and secure work environment; treat each individual with respect, equality, honesty and compassion; and introduce a dose of “tough” love. Providing an opportunity for growth and giving employees the best tools and technology to do their jobs have always been top objectives.
Getting the right people into the group, as well as weeding out the ill-fitted ones, regardless of their skill set, is imperative and takes constant vigilance, especially with acquisitions.
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Celebrating 140 years in business
Philander C. Knox and James H. Reed established the law firm of Knox & Reed in 1877. The partners soon represented leading industrialists — Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, Andrew and Richard Mellon, H.J. Heinz, George Westinghouse and more.
Reed later represented Carnegie in the creation of United States Steel, the world’s first billion-dollar corporation, and became a charter director. Knox ultimately accepted the post of U.S. Attorney General and later served as U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.
The firm also assisted the Mellons in establishing the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research, which later would merge with Carnegie Institute of Technology (founded with Reed’s assistance) to create Carnegie Mellon University.
In 1922, the partnership renamed itself Reed Smith Shaw & McClay, a name that stood until it was shortened in 2000.
Starting in the 1970s, Reed Smith launched a series of expansionary moves. It established an international presence in 2001.
Today, Reed Smith represents many of the world’s leading companies. With lawyers from coast-to-coast, as well as in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, Reed Smith counsels 13 of the world’s 15 largest commercial and savings banks, 25 of the world’s 35 largest oil and gas companies, and many of the world’s largest pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers.
Reed Smith has grown in large part because of its commitment to delivering high-quality service and developing long-term client relationships.
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Celebrating 134 years in business
PPG Industries was founded in 1883 when Capt. John B. Ford and John Pitcairn started the first commercially successful plate glass factory in the U.S. in Creighton, Pa. Known as the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co., the enterprise focused on innovation and quality — and 130 years later, PPG Industries is still dedicated to these priorities.
PPG is a global supplier of paints, coatings, optical products, specialty materials and fiberglass. The company maintains a long-standing tradition of developing leading-edge technologies, achieving the highest quality standards and meeting customers’ requirements.
Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG helps customers in industrial, transportation, consumer products, and construction markets and aftermarkets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than any other company.
In the past decade, PPG has continued to accelerate the pace of its business portfolio transformation and grow its position as the leading global coatings and specialty products company, with $14.8 billion in sales in 2015 and more than 47,000 employees worldwide.
More than 130 years after its founding, PPG still holds true to the spirit of Ford and Pitcairn, bringing innovation to the surface to offer customers in a wide range of markets and geographic locations unique technologies, services and other solutions.
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Celebrating 130 years in business
The Pittsburgh Alleghenies played their first National League game on April 30, 1887, defeating the defending league champion Chicago White Stockings in front of nearly 10,000 fans.
The Alleghenies were renamed Pirates in 1891, after being accused of hijacking a Philadelphia Athletics player.
The early 1900s produced shortstop Honus Wagner, who led the Pirates to 14 consecutive first-division finishes, two World Series and one championship. Not only was Wagner one of the five original inductees to baseball’s Hall of Fame, he remains in the top 10 in 11 Pirate categories.
The team declined after 1910, but came back to relevance in the ’20s, playing in two World Series and winning one in 1925.
The Bucs were middle-of-the-pack or worse from 1928 to the early 1950s. In 1947, the Pirates broke 1 million in attendance, double the previous year.
Roberto Clemente, their first Latin superstar, played with the franchise from 1955 to 1972, including World Championships in 1960 and 1971. The team won its fifth championship in 1979.
After some lean years, the Pirates produced Barry Bonds who played with the Bucs for seven seasons.
While the team didn’t record a winning season from 1992 to 2010, it did move to PNC Park, its fifth home, in 2001.
Back in the playoffs in 2013-2015, the team fell short in 2016.
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Celebrating 127 years in business
Established nearly 130 years ago, Landau Building Co. has become one of the premier family-owned and operated construction management and general contracting firms in Western Pennsylvania. But Landau wasn’t always what it is today.
In 1890, four Landau brothers started a small construction company specializing in wooden stairs and then home construction. In 1918, the brothers incorporated as Landau Brothers Contracting Co. The company grew, transforming into a commercial contractor, and changed its name to Landau Building Co. in 1974.
Now in its fifth generation, Landau continues to build strong client relationships. Because of that trust, the majority of the company’s projects are negotiated rather than hard bid, which enables Landau to better establish and focus on the client’s specific project goals.
Landau’s commitment to integrity, honesty and service has built a solid reputation, and the company focuses on delivering results that exceed client expectations for quality and service.
The family-like culture also has contributed to the company’s longevity. Employees get to know and trust each other. There is an overarching sentiment of honesty and integrity with not only the way business is conducted but also with how people treat one another.
Landau is a medium-sized construction company, and it embraces that status — it knows what it does well and focuses on that.
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Celebrating 126 years in business
The 126-year history of Irwin Car and Equipment is a case study in evolution and adaptation to meet the ever-changing needs of its clients, and the opportunities in its more than 30 niche markets.
While the business was founded in 1891 as the Irwin Mine Car and Foundry Company, Irwin Car now reflects William Baker’s model for a company.
It comprises niche-like business units that are related at a common level, yet provide a diversified mix of markets, products and industries to help eliminate market cyclicality. This has provided a reliable engine for continued growth both for the individual business units and the company as a whole.
The key factors that set Irwin Car apart stem from its customer-first commitment. The company, and its employees, takes pride in having the fastest deliveries in all the markets it serves. Product innovation also lies at the heart of the business and its growth.
In order to further reinforce the vision, mindset and attitude behind Irwin Car’s success and longevity, the company instituted a number of incentive and rewards programs for its employees.
Irwin Car also developed apprenticeship, internship and management programs, as well as cultural initiatives that foster a sense of pride and ownership.
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Celebrating 106 years in business
Since 1911, Power Piping Co. has been providing construction and fabrication services to industrial clients. Typically a prime contractor that provides project management of the complete project when it can self-perform significant portions of the work scope, the company also provides specialty contracting services to select clients.
In order to meet changing times over the long-term, Power Piping has stayed flexible and adapted to new ways and changes with regards to its clients’ needs and industry. The company’s greatest asset is its clients and the only measure of success is client satisfaction.
The organization’s culture is based on open communication and building relationships. It holds people accountable and keeps them involved.
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Celebrating 95 years in business
WESCO International Inc. was formed in 1922 as a captive distribution arm of the Westinghouse Electric Company, primarily serving the non-residential construction industry.
It became a separate company in 1994 and a public company in 1999. Today, at $7.5 billion in sales, WESCO is a Fortune 500 electrical distributor, serving broad and diverse end markets, including industrial, construction, utility, commercial, institutional and government. With more than 25,000 companies, including half of the Fortune 500, as customers, it holds the No. 1 market share position in Canada and the No. 2 position in the U.S.
Since 1994, growth has come from expanding existing business and making more than 40 acquisitions. At the same time, WESCO has built global sales and supply chain capabilities, increased productivity and effectiveness with Lean principles, and optimized its organizational structure, to become more profitable than the industry average.
WESCO’s people and culture are a key differentiators and value creators. At the heart of it, WESCO is not a manufacturing company; it’s a service company.
Also, in the second decade of its Lean journey, this has become a cornerstone of WESCO’s culture and a fundamental part of how it does business. Over the past five years, WESCO also has extended its Lean philosophy to both customers and suppliers.
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Celebrating 88 years in business
Since incorporating in 1929, Ampco-Pittsburgh Corp. has made significant investments to position itself for long-term success. In addition to investing in R&D and equipment, an active acquisition, merger and divestiture strategy has shaped the corporation into the diverse business it is today.
Ampco-Pittsburgh’s most recent acquisition added manufacturing plants around the world to leverage currency risks and added additional R&D technology advancements. By continuing to re-invest into its businesses, Ampco-Pittsburgh can adapt to unpredictable short-term market conditions.
Ampco-Pittsburgh also is renewing its emphasis on R&D by identifying products the marketplace wants, needs and demands and then aggressively developing them. Over the past 10 years, Ampco-Pittsburgh has invested nearly $120 million in machinery, equipment and technology with Union Electric Steel, a wholly owned operating subsidiary and a leading producer of forged and cast engineered products for the worldwide steel and aluminum industries.
Ampco-Pittsburgh believes that investing in people leads to a stronger organization. An ability to attract, develop and retain a diverse and talented workforce is vital to future success. The company has implemented a training and development program to create a competitive advantage through talent management and employee development.
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Celebrating 86 years in business
Giant Eagle supermarkets have proudly served its customers for 86 years as one of the 40 largest privately held and family-operated companies in the U.S.
It all started when three families — Goldstein, Porter and Chait — built a small grocery company, Eagle Grocery. The business expanded to 125 stores. In 1928, the families sold Eagle Grocery to the Kroger Co. As part of their arrangement, the families agreed to leave the grocery business for three years.
In the meantime, the Moravitz and Weizenbaum families built their own successful chain of grocery stores, OK Grocery. In 1931, the five families — Goldstein, Porter, Chait, Moravitz and Weizenbaum — combined forces to form Giant Eagle. The first Giant Eagle supermarket opened in 1936.
Today, Giant Eagle continues its commitment to customer convenience and value, operating more than 400 retail locations, ranging in size from 120,000 square-foot supermarkets to small neighborhood markets and fuel and convenience locations.
Giant Eagle has stores throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland, and employs more than 36,000 employees throughout its stores, retail support centers and offices.
The core values that have led to its success include: be kind, think team, step up, work smart and live well.
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Founded in 1931, the Guttman Group has grown by listening to its customers and responding with unique solutions to their changing needs. The same principles of customer service, reliability and integrity that have defined the company for 86 years are now being upheld and expanded upon by a third generation of Guttman leadership.
The Guttman Group includes Guttman Energy, Source One Transportation LLC and Bulk Terminal Storage.
The company is committed to developing long, mutually beneficial relationships with its customers. With dedicated sales professionals, knowledgeable customer service representatives and ownership intimately involved in the operations of the business, the Guttman Group maintains a personal approach to serving customers.
The company also stays at the forefront of technology and innovations, whether with its own operations or adding value to its customers.
Realizing it cannot be all things to all people, the Guttman Group strives to reinforce five key brand values in everything it does: trustworthy, knowledgeable, personal, innovative and responsive.
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Celebrating 79 years in business
Kennametal Inc. has been at the forefront of advanced materials innovation for 79 years. This starts with each of its team members — the knowledge and expertise they bring to serve their customers, shareholders and communities.
From just 12 employees and $30,000 in sales in the company’s first year (1938), Kennametal team members have grown the business to a $2.1 billion company, supporting the livelihoods of some 11,000 team members and their families, and more than 80,000 customers around the world.
By keeping pace with constant change in the markets it serves, Kennametal has invested in its team members and smarter technologies to manage the world’s most complex, demanding work.
The company values every team member and the perspectives each brings. The more diverse Kennametal is in its thinking, the more capable and creative it can be for customers’ needs, while also innovating and advancing its industry.
The company’s unique culture extends to its communities as well. In communities around the world, Kennametal people give generously to agencies that help neighbors in need. Adding to team members’ efforts, the Kennametal Foundation contributes donations each year for community drives, matching gifts and strategic support for technical education and scholarships.
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Celebrating 77 years in business
When Founder Michael Baker Jr. established what would become Michael Baker International in 1940, he envisioned a company that would serve not just as a property surveyor or designer of roads, bridges, buildings and sewage treatment systems, but also as a trusted, long-term partner with local communities and distant nations.
That legacy of expertise, experience, innovation and integrity forms the foundation on which the company continues to grow. Michael Baker provides visionary leadership in managing change for its clients.
Michael Baker’s long success always has drawn on the collaborative creativity of its innovative team members who leverage their diverse backgrounds, expertise, experience and yes-we-can attitudes to solve complex challenges.
For 77 years, the company has cultivated a culture that fosters collaboration, career development, diversity, creativity, differentiating innovation and opportunity. All of those attributes translate into strong, engaging, long-term relationships with clients and other key stakeholders around the world.
Michael Baker and its team members place a high value on the communities they serve, working hard to make those communities safer, more accessible and more sustainable. Team members also give back to those same communities with their time, talents and financial support.
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Celebrating 71 years in business
Celebrating 71 years in business, McGinnis Sisters Special Food Store has adapted by listening closely and teaching customers about creating successful at-home meals.
Whether it was Rosella McGinnis speaking on the phone to new brides in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s; owners and sisters Bonnie Vello, Sharon Young or Noreen Campbell creating easy meals to take home or adding specialty and imported items; or the third generation keeping abreast of food allergies and safety, GMOs, organics and technology — it’s all about listening, educating and responding to changing customer needs.
The sisters are proud of the culture their parents, Elwood and Rosella McGinnis, created. They were taught to “do what you can, unless it hurts the company,” which remains the mantra today.
Many employees feel that McGinnis Sisters is their family and this close-knit group enjoys coming to work. Vello, Young and Campbell try to promote from within. They encourage people to discover their unique abilities and develop ways for them to contribute.
Industry turnover is high, and yet McGinnis Sisters staff stay 20, 30 and even 50 years — a testament to the care and compassion that is extended. The company provides extensive, on-going training and has a firm belief that you can always be kind, no matter what.
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Celebrating 69 years in business
Since 1948, Oberg Industries Inc. has changed to meet the growing needs of its customers, employees and community by:
- Striving to be partners with customers by learning and understanding what is necessary to manufacture their products with consistent quality and to meet their on-time delivery schedules.
- Being customer-focused from sales, engineering, quality control and project management to shop floor production.
- Providing new manufacturing processes and innovative technology that give its customers a competitive advantage.
- Maintaining a highly skilled workforce by offering apprentice training to new employees, and continuous learning opportunities for all employees so they can keep up-to-date with the latest machine technology while helping to advance their own careers.
Oberg’s culture has, and continues to be, a critical factor in the company’s success. This is supported by its strong values: teamwork, quality workmanship, safety, on-time delivery, productivity, personal responsibility, customer service and positive work ethic.
Oberg maintains a world-class reputation for quality and excellence because of its dedicated and talented employees. The company’s values were established to set expectations for employee performance and behavior and help guide Oberg in making good decisions.
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Celebrating 61 years in business
84 Lumber Co. traces its roots to Eighty Four, Pa., when Founder Joe Hardy, with his two brothers and two family friends, pooled together $84,000 to purchase land and buildings for a “cash and carry” lumberyard in 1956.
Growth continued over the next several decades. In the 1980s, 84 Lumber evolved from no-frills lumberyards to building materials stores and relaxed its strict cash-and-carry policy with credit options.
In 1992, Hardy turned the reigns over to his daughter, Maggie Hardy Magerko.
With a new leader came an evolved vision, as 84 Lumber added its 400th store in 1997.
84 Lumber opened its first “84 Plus” retail store, designed by Magerko, in 1999. With about 12,000 products, compared to 3,000–4,000 in a traditional store, the store targeted both professionals and retail shoppers.
In 2002, the company exceeded $2 billion in annual sales. When the housing market crashed, however, 84 Lumber suffered significant losses. Efforts to avoid bankruptcy were ultimately successful.
In 2013, 84 Lumber increased sales 27 percent over the prior year, generating $2.1 billion in revenue. Today, the company plans to open at least a dozen new stores and manufacturing facilities in the western United States.
With Magerko’s tenacious leadership and the team’s true passion, a new 84 Lumber has emerged from tough economic times.
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Celebrating 60 years in business
In business for 60 years, Howard and Anne Hanna founded Howard Hanna Real Estate Services with one office in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Today, the company is the third largest in the U.S. with 271 offices across eight states.
The Hannas are — and have always been — committed to building a culture where people want to work and feel secure, a company that is built to last from generation to generation.
Not only is Howard Hanna hands-on, the company is innovative, well respected and committed to the region, especially with its support of the arts.
That innovation has been demonstrated by always looking for opportunities. The company started its own mortgage and title companies as a way to overcome people having to go downtown in the middle of the day to sign papers. It also created the Howard
Hanna Income Advantage more than 20 years ago to help agents with the ups and downs of a commission-style profession.
Howard Hanna has invested early in technology, putting homes for sale online and on television with the Howard Hanna Sunday Showcase of Homes, which today airs in four markets and via YouTube.
The company is a risk taker, but never at the sake of clients or employees. The family takes what it thinks will be the future and invests in it.
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