Some of the most successful businesses in the world are at least 100 years-old

Original headquarters: The German pharmaceutical group Merck was founded in 1688. Now it's a €13 billion multinational        Picture: WikiMedia
Original headquarters: The German pharmaceutical group Merck was founded in 1688. Now it’s a €13 billion multinational        Picture: WikiMedia

Sometimes it feels like the world’s most successful businesses have all been started recently. That’s because companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple and Tesla dominate the corporate imagination these days. But there are many successful companies that have been around for 100 years or more – and are still going strong. Perhaps, given their longevity and contribution to society, they are the real heroes of the corporate world.

Out of the 500 biggest family businesses in the world, as measured by Global Family Business Index, which is compiled by St Gallen University with support from EY, more than a quarter (133) have been in existence for 100 years or more. The oldest business on the list is the Japanese construction and engineering group, Takenaka Corp, which was founded in 1610. This is followed by the German pharmaceutical group, Merck, founded in 1668. The French financial group, Wendel, is the third oldest company on the list, founded in 1706. These companies continue to thrive despite being hundreds of years old.


The 10 Oldest and most Successful Family-Controlled Companies

Company                                                     Founded          Based

Takenaka Corporation                             1610                Japan

Merck                                                          1668               Germany

Wendel                                                        1706                France

Franz Haniel                                               1756                Germany

Molson Coors Brewing                             1785                US

Jeronimo Martins                                      1792                Portugal

Thomson Reuters                                      1799                Canada

D’Ieteren                                                     1805                Belgium

Wieland-Werke                                          1820                Germany

Bolloré                                                         1822                France

Source: Global Family Business Index

Maybe the survivability of businesses could be a way of better gauging the success of a business in the future. After all, these businesses have all contributed more to job creation than Google, Apple and Microsoft put together, and they still are. At the very least, how these businesses have innovated and stayed top of their game for such a long time should be at the forefront of business courses.