by Fred3/6/13

The Greatest Company in America

It’s the oldest privately-owned company in the United States. They have been making products since 1623. That’s not a typo – since 1623. 390 years! And they dominate the market, owning more than 50 percent of the world market share for their products.

Who are they? They are Zildjian, a family-owned business based in Norwell, MA. They make the finest cymbals in the world – used by orchestras, bands and rock stars all over. The business has stayed in the family for 15 generations. Here’s a little bit about them, from their website:

Avedis Zildjian I (the first) was an Armenian alchemist in the city of Constantinople in the early seventeenth century. While attempting to create gold by combining base metals, he discovered an alloy of copper, tin, and traces of silver with unique sound qualities. In 1618, Avedis used his secret alloy to create cymbals of spectacular clarity and power. The sound of the instruments was so extraordinary that the Sultan invited Avedis to live at court (Topkapi Palace) to make cymbals for the Sultan’s elite Janissary Bands. As Avedis’ reputation grew, the Sultan gave him the name “Zildjian” in Armenian (Zilciyan in Turkish), a word meaning “son of cymbal maker.”

In 1623, Avedis was granted permission to leave the palace in order to start his own business in a suburb of Constantinople named Psamatia. That same business is now nearly four centuries old and has been passed down to Zildjian heirs for fifteen generations. Relocating to America in 1929, Avedis III moved the Zildjian factory to Quincy, MA and then to its current location in Norwell, MA for Zildjian’s 350th Anniversary. The business passed to Avedis’ son, Armand in 1977 and then to Armand’s daughter, Craigie, in 1999. Currently, Craigie and her sister Debbie continue the family tradition in what is recognized as the oldest family-owned business in America.

There has never been a layoff. If a job on the production line is automated by a machine, the employee who use to perform that job is retrained for another job at equivalent pay. And they have never outsourced a job overseas. Never. They believe that quality is more than just a slogan.

“The notion of sending your quality, outsourcing your quality halfway around the world,” CEO, Craigie Zlidjian says, “is unthinkable.”

This is a company that really understands its brand. Their model has outlasted empires, survived depressions and recessions and has stayed true to itself. They don’t do things the easy way. They do things the right way. And that is why they are the greatest company in America.

Learn more about Zildjian here.

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