The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

19 April 2007

Forever and a day

But not one day longer:

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's 578. Kongo Gumi survived for one thousand four hundred twenty-eight years, longer even than most temporary taxes.

How did they do it? Well, there's not a whole lot of volatility in the business of constructing Buddhist temples. (During WWII, the firm built coffins; subsequently, they diversified into commercial buildings.) Eventually, though, some fairly ordinary factors did them in: declining revenues and mounting debt.

There was a time when I thought E. K. Gaylord might make it to fourteen hundred or so. (He died in 1974, reportedly still at work; he was 101.)

(Turned up by Don Mecoy of The Oklahoman.)

Posted at 8:20 AM to Common Cents