25 of the Oldest Active Companies in the United States | Entrepreneur (2023)

Most startups fail. It's hard to create the sort of capital you need to start a business and hardto create the necessary revenue to sustain and grow.

But, it's even harder to stay relevant as time goes along. Radio replaced someof newspapers' popularity, then T.V. replaced radio, then the internet replaced T.V., and the internet will probably be replaced some day by a new technology we haven't even considered yet. That's just how the world of business seems to go.

That's why we have to stop and appreciate the rare companies on this listwho havebeen able to change and adapt through centuries without missing a beat. Consider this: Theyoungestcompany on this list is almost 200, and the oldest is 163 years older than the Declaration of Independence. And they're still going strong! That's the sort of legacy every entrepreneur dreams about.

Start the slideshow to see some of the oldest existing companies in America.

West of the Mississippi: Rose Law Firm of Little Rock

Rose Law Firm is the youngest business on this list (though not by much), but that's in large part because states west of the Mississippi River hadn't been colonized yet. Look at Rose Law Firm -- founded in 1820,the law firm is actually older than the state that surrounds it, as Arkansas was inducted into the Union in 1836.

25 of the Oldest Active Companies in the United States | Entrepreneur (2)Brooks Brothers

Clothing: Brooks Brothers founded in 1818

When Henry Sands Brooks opened his first store, H. & D. H. Brooks & Co. in Manhattan, on April 7, 1818, Mississippi had only recently been added as the 20th state in the Union.

Flowers: Breck's founded in 1818

Founded the same year as Brooks Brothers, Breck's started as a family-owned garden supply but has transformed over the years and now claims to be the largest U.S. importer of Dutch flower bulbs.

25 of the Oldest Active Companies in the United States | Entrepreneur (4)Remington Arms Company
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Firearms: Remington founded in 1816

In 1816, the same year that Eliphalet Remington II built his first hand-built rifle, James Monroe was elected as America's fifth president. Since then, the Remington brand has become one of the biggest gun manufacturers in the world.

Pottery: Louisville Stoneware founded in 1815

In the same year that Jacob Lewis established the Lewis Pottery on the edge of the Ohio River, Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the island of St. Helena, ending the Napoleonic Wars. While Lewis Pottery has changed hands over the years, it still produces stoneware on the edge of the Ohio River.

Publishing: Wiley founded in 1807

In 1807, the business was a single print shop that Charles Wiley opened in Manhattan. Today, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. is a billion-dollar business, having published works by the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and Washington Irving.

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Starches, soaps and candles: Colgate founded in 1806

William Colgate opened the starch, soap and candle factory in New York City in 1806 when he was just 23 years old. Since then, he and his family have grown the business into the multinational corporation it is today.

Chemicals: DuPont founded in 1802

E.I. du Pont and his family fled to America from France in 1799 due to the wild political climate of the French Revolution. Three years later, on July 19, 1802, du Pont broke ground on his first powder mills in Delaware, which he kept until he died. The company, which originally sold explosive powder, has grown with every passing year and is now an S&P 100 component.

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Paper: Crane & Co. founded in 1801

The first Crane & Co. paper mill had a daily output of 2,500 pages of paper per day. Now, the former family business is printing money -- literally. Crane & Co. has supplied the United States Treasury with its currency paper since 1879.

Jewelry: Shreve, Crump & Low founded in 1796

Silversmith John McFarlane opened his workshop in Boston in 1796 at 51 Old Marlborough Street in Boston -- across from Paul Revere's silversmith shop. Today, the company makes all sorts of jewelry and luxury goods including the Davis Cup and Cy Young Award.

Almanacs: Old Farmer's Almanac founded in 1792

TheOld Farmer's Almanac, first edited and founded by Robert B. Thomas in 1792, has earned its name the hard way -- the word "Old" was added to the title in 1832, 40 years after the first edition was printed. Since then, the almanac has printed every year except for 1943 to 1945 (due to World War II legislation) and now publishes four editions per year.

Stocks: New York Stock Exchange founded in 1792

The New York Stock Exchange began on May 17, 1792, when 24 stockbrokers signed the Buttonwood Agreement on Wall Street. Now, almost 225 later, the New York Stock Exchange sees over a hundred billion dollars' worth of trades on a daily basis.

Law: Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft founded in 1792

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft was founded in the same year as the New York Stock Exchange. In the same city. Even the same street (Wall Street)! Like the New York Stock Exchange, Cadwalader has undergone massive growth since then and is now one of the richest law firms in America.

Baking: King Arthur Flour founded in 1790

When Henry Wood began importing European flour to Long Wharf in Boston in 1790, we're pretty sure King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table were still ruling England (really it was King George III, but it's impressive either way).

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Banking: The Bank of New York Mellon founded in 1784

How old is the Bank of New York? Old enough that some guy named Alexander Hamilton wrote its Constitution, just months after British forces left U.S. soil. Five years later, in 1789, Hamilton became the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.

Distilling: Laird & Company founded in 1780

In 1780, Robert Laird (who served in the Continental Army under George Washington) and his commercial distillery in Scobeyville, New Jersy, earned License No. 1 from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Chocolates and sweets: Baker's founded in 1765

Originally called "Hannan's Best Chocolate" and run by John Hannon in Dorchester, Mass., the chocolate shop first changed hands when Hannan took a trip to the West Indies and never returned (it was easier than getting a divorce at the time, apparently). His wife sold the companyto Dr. James Baker in 1780, who changed the name to Baker Chocolate Company.

Today, the Baker Chocolate Company is owned by Mondelez International.

Newspapers: The Hartford Courant founded in 1764

You know the Hartford Courant has been around a while because it was founded at a time when "courant" was still a popular word for a newspaper. However, that branding seems to have worked -- theCourantis still the largest daily newspaper in Connecticut.

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Apothecary: Caswell-Massey founded in 1752

Best known for its fragrances, Casswell-Massey was founded in 1752 by Dr. William Hunter in Newport, R.I. The same year, Benjamin Franklin made his famous lightning conductor, kite-flying experiment and the Liberty Bell arrived in Philadelphia.

Tools and transmission: The Rowland Company founded in 1732

A business that got its start by selling shovels in 1732, the nearly 300-year-old company now creates some more complex tools like gearboxes, brakes and crane control systems. On its website (another more complex thing), The Rowland Company boasts that it is the oldest continuing company in Pennsylvania.

Stone carving: The John Stevens Shop founded in 1705

Now, we're getting into some serious history. The John Stevens Shop (like Caswell-Massey, founded in Newport, R.I.) is one of four bussinesses on this list that has been around for three centuries, and it's worked on some pretty significant works of stone art like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. and the Pacific Arch of the National World War II Memorial.

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Restaurants: White Horse Tavern founded in 1673

If you were in Newport, R.I., and needed to visit Caswell-Massey or The John Stevens Shop, you could also stop by The White Horse Tavern, which was built in 1652 to be a two-story residence before being converted into a tavern. The White Horse Tavern website boasts that the restaurant was popular with Colonists, Hessian mercenaries and pirates.

Hotels: The Seaside Inn Founded in 1660 (at least)

The inn in Kennebunkport, Maine was settled by John Gooch, who was sent to America to help settle Maine as a colony. Remarkably, not only does the inn remain in operation, but it remains a family-operated business, as a 12th-generation family member now runs the inn.

25 of the Oldest Active Companies in the United States | Entrepreneur (24)Zildjian Company
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Percussion: Zildjian founded in 1623

This is cheating a bit, because while Avedis Zildjian I did start his cymbal business in 1623, he started the business in a suburb of Constantinople, Armenia. In 1929, however, Avedis III relocated to America and moved the factory to Massachusetts. Today, the factory is located in Norwell, Mass., so we're counting it as an American company -- after all, it's been here for almost a century by now.

Farming: Shirley Plantation built in 1613

Built to grow tobacco, the Shirley Plantation isn't just famous for being one of the oldest active businesses in the United States. Confederate General Robert E. Lee's parents were also married at the plantation in June of 1793, as his mother's family (the Hill Carters) have owned the land since 1738. They continue to own and run the plantation today, eight generations later.


What is the oldest active company in the US? ›

1. Caswell-Massey (1752) Dr. William Hunter started this perfume and soap company as an apothecary shop in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1752.

What is the oldest active company? ›

What Is the Oldest Business in the World? The oldest business in the world is a company in Japan called Kongō Gumi, which has been in operation since 578.

What are the 5 oldest companies in the world? ›

  • Consolidated Edison.
  • Lloyd's.
  • IBM.
  • Tuttle Farm.
  • Kongo Gumi.

Where are the oldest companies in existence? ›

As well as having the oldest company in the world, Japan is also home to the second to fifth-oldest companies, with three of them (Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Koman, and Hōshi Ryokan) being hotels. The oldest company outside of Japan is an Austrian inn called Stiftskeller St.

What is the oldest business in North America? ›

Mexico's La Casa de Moneda de México (founded 1534) is the oldest company across North America, and the first mint of America. Owned by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, it was where the famous 'pieces of eight', or Spanish dollars were created.

Which companies are more than 100 years old? ›

100-Year-Old Companies Still in Business Today
  • Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola Company was founded back in 1892, several years after the beverage was invented by the pharmacist John S. ...
  • J.C. Penney. ...
  • UPS. ...
  • Boeing. ...
  • L.L. Bean. ...
  • Harley-Davidson. ...
  • Kraft Foods. ...
  • Kellogg's.

What percentage of companies survive 100 years? ›

Beyond that, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that only about 12% of companies are older than 26 years. The prevailing theory, though unconfirmed, is that only about a half a percent (0.5%) of all companies have what it takes to last 100 years.

What is oldest living thing on earth? ›

Methuselah, a bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California, stands at the ripe old age of about 5,000, making it the oldest known non-cloned living organism on Earth.

What is the oldest family owned business in America? ›

Zildjian family

What is the oldest food company? ›

1. Baker's Chocolate, 1764. In 1764, two men by the name of John Hannon and Dr.

How many companies are over 200 years old? ›

Statistics. According to a report published by the Bank of Korea in 2008 that looked at 41 countries, there were 5,586 companies older than 200 years. Of these, 3,146 (56%) are in Japan, 837 (15%) in Germany, 222 (4%) in the Netherlands, and 196 (3%) in France.

What was the 1st company? ›

First in an ignoble line was the East India Company, set up by British merchant adventurers and granted the Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I in 1600. Partners combined their personal stock, turning it into company stock to create the world's first commercial corporation.

What is the oldest logo? ›

British tea company Twinings has the oldest logo that has been in continuous use with no alterations made to the logo's design. It was created for the tea company more than two centuries ago, in 1787.

What is the oldest known building? ›

Dating back to 3600 BC and 700 BC, the Megalithic Temples of Malta are considered to be the oldest free-standing structures on earth. The temples were built during three phases of cultural revolution – Ġgantija (3600-3200BC), Saflieni (3300-3000BC) and Tarxien (3150BC-2500BC).

Are there any companies that are 1000 years old? ›

However, there are many other companies around the world that have been running for over 1000 years.
10 Oldest Companies in the World
  • Marinelli Bell Foundry. ...
  • Shumiya Shinbutsuguten. ...
  • Chateau de Goulaine. ...
  • Nakamura Shaji. ...
  • Royal Mint. ...
  • Tanaka Iga (田中伊雅仏具店) ...
  • Monnaie de Paris.

What is the oldest general store in the United States? ›

Gray's General Store is a general store located at 4 Main Street in Adamsville, Rhode Island. Founded in 1788, it operated for almost 225 years and was reputed to be the oldest continually operating general store in the United States.

What is the oldest restaurant in the world? ›

Casa Botín, founded in 1725, is the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records and a benchmark of Madrid's best traditional cuisine.

How many companies are over 100 years old? ›

Apparently, says Mayer, there are only around 1,000 companies that have survived more than 100 years in the US. That is less than half a percent of all the businesses in the US.

What company no longer exists? ›

Defunct, in a business context, refers to the condition of a company, whether publicly traded or private, that has gone bankrupt and has ceased to exist. Typically, "defunct" refers to something that is no longer existing, functioning, or in use.

What stock has grown the most in the last 10 years? ›

Best Performing S&P 500 Stocks in the Last 10 Years
  • Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA)
  • Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)
  • T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ:TMUS)
  • UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH)
  • Lam Research Corporation (NASDAQ:LRCX)
  • ServiceNow, Inc. (NYSE:NOW)
Jan 20, 2023

Which is the best company of all time? ›

The Top 100 Companies of the World: Competition From China
#1AppleUnited States
#2Saudi AramcoSaudi Arabia
#3MicrosoftUnited States
#4AmazonUnited States
6 more rows
Jul 19, 2021

Can a company last forever? ›

Because a corporation is a legal entity separate from its owners, it continues to exist even when owners die or leave the business.

What is the average life span of the average US company? ›

In 2020, the average lifespan of a company on Standard and Poor's 500 Index was just over 21 years, compared with 32 years in 1965.
CharacteristicAverage company lifespan in years (7-year-rolling average)
12 more rows
Aug 27, 2021

How many companies survive 20 years? ›

Or to put it another way, there seems to be an 80/20 rule at play here: 80% of businesses survive their first year, 20% don't. 20% of businesses sustain themselves for over 20 years, 80% do not (they are closed or sold before then).

What is the oldest thing on Earth made by humans? ›

Roughly two million years old, this tool, known as the Kanjera stone, was part of a new Stone Age technology that helped make better-fed, smarter hominins.

What is the longest living dog? ›

Bobi, at the age of 30 years and 268 days, has been crowned the world's oldest living dog -- and the oldest dog to ever live -- by Guinness World Records (GWR).

What is the oldest language in the world? ›

The oldest living language, still in use to date, might be Tamil. This fact is widely debated across linguistic communities. Tamil is proposed to be first attested somewhere between 5320 BC and 8th century CE. The Dravidian language has speakers in Southern India and Sri Lanka.

What is the largest family owned company? ›

2023 Family Business Index
1Wal-Mart Inc.Walton
2Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.Buffett
3Cargill, Inc.Cargill-MacMillan
23 more rows

Which is the oldest business families? ›

The oldest company in India is the Wadia Group whose origins are traceable to 1736, with its subsidiary The Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited, established in 1863, being the oldest publicly traded company in India.

What is the oldest company registered at companies House? ›

Established in 1844 by the Companies Act of the same year, the first company through the door at 13 Serjeant's Inn, Chancery Lane, London (with their correctly completed paperwork and £5 filing fee), was company number 1: National Savings Bank Association Ltd.

What was the first true big business in the US? ›

Railroads were the first "big businesses" in the United States.

What is the oldest US stock market? ›

Stock exchanges have a long history in the United States. In 1790, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, originally named the Board of Brokers of Philadelphia, was founded. Two years later saw another big competitor—the New York Stock Exchange.

What was America's first big business? ›

Slave plantations, not railroads, were in fact America's first “big business.” Moreover, as Seth Rockman has shown, the slave-dominated economy of the South also constituted an important market for goods produced by a wide variety of Northern manufacturers and artisans.

What is the longest running business in America? ›

The oldest company in the U.S. that is still running is Shirley Plantation in Charles City, VA. The lands of the plantation were first settled in 1613 by Sir Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr. To this day, it is the oldest family-owned business in the United States as well as the oldest active plantation in Virginia.

What is America's biggest business? ›

List of the largest companies
1WalmartGeneral merchandisers
2AmazonRetail and Cloud Computing
3AppleElectronics industry
4CVS HealthHealthcare
62 more rows

What is the biggest business ever? ›

1WalmartUnited States
2AmazonUnited States
3State GridChina
48 more rows

What is the oldest company in the Dow 30? ›

As of August 31, 2020, the components of the DJIA have changed 57 times since its beginning on May 26, 1896. General Electric had the longest continuous presence on the index, beginning in the original index in 1896 and ending in 2018.

What is the biggest and oldest stock market in the United States? ›

Philadelphia Stock Exchange (PHLX), now known as Nasdaq PHLX, is the first stock exchange established in the United States and the oldest stock exchange in the nation.

What is the oldest company on the Fortune 500? ›

Bank of New York Mellon

Another feather in Alexander Hamilton's tricorn cap: The founding father to whom we owe the Federalist papers, the U.S. Coast Guard and Broadway's hottest musical also started the oldest company on the Fortune 500—Bank of New York Mellon (No.

When did slavery start in the world? ›

Evidence of slavery predates written records; the practice has existed in many cultures. and can be traced back 11,000 years ago due to the conditions created by the invention of agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution. Economic surpluses and high population densities were conditions that made mass slavery viable.

Who is the first owner of America? ›

Native Americans, or the indigenous peoples of the Americas, are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America and their descendants.

Were slaves worth more than railroads? ›

The economic value of the 4 million slaves in 1860 was, on average, $1,000 per person, or about $4 billion total. That was more than all the banks, railroads and factories in the U.S. were worth at the time.

What is the oldest family owned business? ›

America's oldest family businesses
RankYear FoundedCompany
1.1623Avedis Zildjian Co.
2.1635-38?Tuttle Farm
3.1638Shirley Plantation
4.1642Barker Farm
63 more rows

Can you buy an old company? ›

Key Takeaways. Shelf companies are companies that have never conducted businesses and are available for purchase. Previously, purchasing a shelf company was a savvy business move as it saved people more time having a pre-registered company. Additionally, it was far more cost-effective than setting up a new company.

What was the first company? ›

First in an ignoble line was the East India Company, set up by British merchant adventurers and granted the Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I in 1600. Partners combined their personal stock, turning it into company stock to create the world's first commercial corporation.


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