Business closes doors after 1,400 years!

I just saw this story on Businessweek’s website and had to share: 

The world’s oldest continuously operating family business ended its impressive run last year. Japanese temple builder Kongo Gumi, in operation under the founders’ descendants since 578, succumbed to excess debt and an unfavorable business climate in 2006.

That means this family business started in 578AD. Can you imagine your business surviving 1,400 years. Think of all the things that have happened the past 1,400 years or so. Wow. From the invention of the Crusades, to the invention of the printing press, not to mention the BEGINING of the Dark Ages.

Some of the reasons why this business lasted 14 centuries:

  1. It operates in a stable industry.
  2. The company’s flexibility in selecting leaders
  3. The practice of sons-in-law taking the family name when they joined the family firm.

The reasons why this business failed:

  1. When the Japanese Real Estate bubble burst in the 1992-93 recession, the assets secured by business debt shrank in value
  2. Social changes in Japan brought about declining contributions to temples

As a result of these two factors revenue was down 35% and the debt load was too large. This is a great article to read. Click here to read the full story.

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