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Success Strategies from Companies That Have Stood Over a Century

Reaching a hundred years old is a remarkable feat for humans, let alone for companies. Celebrating a century entails reflecting on all the hurdles, strategies, and goals that made you withstand the test of time.

In today’s day and age, many companies make common mistakes that make it hard for them to continue in business. A study by the Yale School of Management found that the average lifespan of a company fell from 61 years half a century ago to just 18 years by 2010.

Sometimes, companies make the mistake of holding to one business model, which often makes them fail to innovate. Without paying attention to staying on trend, many companies lose customers and clients. 

In other cases, companies get enamored with a product for a long time and forget to create an alternative plan that beats the odds when things go wrong.

While no company has cracked a secret code for longevity, a few managed to stay in business for several years. Here’s a look at five companies that survived for over a century, and the secret to their success. 

IBM – 112 Years

IBM has existed for over a century and is one of the leading names in the tech industry among the computer giants. Initially, IBM began as a merger of three companies in 1911. The company started selling equipment like coffee grinders and employee punch cards. In the years to come, IBM survived the great depression and continued to reinvent itself.

When the tech industry faced an $ 8 billion loss due to the slow adaptation of the growing computer market, IBM reinvented itself by changing direction and focus. Besides selling computers, servers, IT storage systems, and networking equipment, IBM provides consulting services.

IBM’s business and consulting services cover a broad niche, including cloud computing, data analytics, and artificial intelligence. Employing Oracle and Salesforce, IBM helps businesses create intelligent experiences to capture new growth opportunities. 

Procter & Gamble -186 Years 

Procter and Gamble was established in 1837 in Ohio, its products are trusted by millions of homes. From beauty to homecare products, P&G survived through innovation and acquisition.

The brand managed to stay relevant and strong by consistently investing in research and development facilities around the globe. P&G continuously hires scientists to develop new products, which include market-altering innovations like the Swiffer cleaning devices, and the stackable Pringles potato chips.

With several products that challenge conventional norm, P&G has continued to innovate. The company hasn’t rested on its laurels. In 2022, Procter & Gamble’s sales amounted to over 80 billion US dollars worldwide. Undeterred by success, the company continues to aggressively invite customers and outside inventors to suggest new product concepts. 

Crayola – 120 Years

Originally known as Binney & Smith, Crayola’s signature crayons were first sold in 1903 when Binney, a schoolteacher and the wife of the co-founder, suggested introducing an inexpensive alternative to imported crayons. 

Over the years, Crayola introduced other products for children, including pencils, paint materials, washable markers, creative toys, and colouring books. Crayola is one of the few companies in the creative industry that has been lucky. Until now, no other invention has made its unique crayons obsolete. No matter where you are in the world, kids still love their crayons as much as they love their iPads.

Ford Motors – 120 Years

The American auto company is among the top-selling US carmakers. Ford has a strong presence in the global markets, with several manufacturing facilities and a vast distribution network. It has been a leader in innovation since 1903.

Ford’s unique and patented F-series cars include cutting-edge safety features like powertrain and standard auto-start and stop technology. The company is putting more effort into making its vehicles green and capable of self-driving.

In the 1980s, the company hit a rough patch when foreign competition grew, and labour costs became burdensome. Nevertheless, that hasn’t impeded its resilience. In recent years, Ford cut costs, and ran more socially responsible business strategies to design environmentally friendly cars than other US counterparts. 

General Electric – 131 Years 

General Electric is a corporate giant; it was formed as a result of a merger of two electric companies in 1892. Over the years, GE has diversified into different industry niches, from computer making to healthcare technology and airplane engines.

General Electric’s success stems from grooming its visionary leaders to compete. The company recruits the brightest minds in every industry it works in. In addition to continuously playing by its innovation playbook, GE has an effective portfolio management team. This approach has allowed it to balance resources and risks across various businesses and markets.

GE continues to play a critical role in advancing sustainability. GE’s Renewable Energy commitment provides a wide range of product solutions to aid clean energy transition to reduce global warming.

Economic dislocation and hurdles will inevitably arise. However, companies and organizations that stood the test of time have always seized opportunities to integrate innovative, flexible, unique products and strategies in their business models. 

These companies never fail to experiment, fail, learn, and grow constantly. When things go wrong, they start the process anew when the world invariably changes again!

David Messiha | Staff Writer

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