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Nicholas Carey
04-18-2007, 02:18 PM
From Business Week (http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/apr2007/sb20070416_589621.htm?campaign_id=rss_topEmailedSt ories), the world's oldest business is closing its doors after a 1,428-year run :eek: -- that's right, the firm was founded in the year 578 CE, and had been in the hands of the same family since its founding :eek: :eek:

I assume the scion that drove the family business into the ground after nearly a millenia and a half will be Honoring (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seppuku) The Ancestors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jigai) ?:p


The End of a 1,400-Year-Old Business
What entrepreneurs starting family businesses can learn from the demise of Japanese temple builder Kongo Gumi

by James Olan Hutcheson

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.

How do you make a family business last for 14 centuries? Kongo Gumi's case suggests that it's a good idea to operate in a stable industry. Few industries could be less flighty than Buddhist temple construction. The belief system has survived for thousands of years and has many millions of adherents. With this firm foundation, Kongo had survived some tumultuous times, notably the 19th century Meiji restoration when it lost government subsidies and began building commercial buildings for the first time. But temple construction had until recently been a reliable mainstay, contributing 80% of Kongo Gumi's $67.6 million in 2004 revenues.

[Full Article (http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/apr2007/sb20070416_589621.htm?campaign_id=rss_topEmailedSt ories)]

John of Phoenix
04-18-2007, 03:29 PM
I'd always heard that the world's oldest business was....somewhat different than building Buddhist temples. Too bad though.

Michael s/v Sannyasin
04-18-2007, 03:37 PM
maybe Tokyo or Kyoto are overdue for a major fire?

JimD
04-18-2007, 03:38 PM
Yes, it is a shame in a way. But with everyone buying their temples from Walmart now they just couldn't compete in a free market place.

Doug Wood
04-18-2007, 03:39 PM
I'd always heard that the world's oldest business was....somewhat different than building Buddhist temples.

...which will never go out of business.

Uncle Duke
04-18-2007, 03:40 PM
I'd always heard that the world's oldest business was....somewhat different than building Buddhist temples.
The one you're thinking of is actually second oldest.
Begging is the oldest - that second one had to start someplace....

JimD
04-18-2007, 03:44 PM
Now c'mon folks. This thread is about the world's oldest continuously operating family business. Now I dunno if there's a family brothel that's been in continous operation for 1400 years, but if there is - they must be pretty good at it by now.;)

brad9798
04-18-2007, 07:23 PM
I used to own a brothel ... but I got screwed ... it's gone now!

Don't tell me- did WalMart open in that town ... that MUST be the reason!

Seriously though, I did read that today ... amazing, really.

Roger Cumming
04-18-2007, 11:30 PM
It's the world's oldest profession, not business.

Osborne Russell
04-19-2007, 11:29 AM
It's the world's oldest profession, not business.

"Businessman with a heart of gold" just won't seem to take root in the folklore.

Osborne Russell
04-19-2007, 11:33 AM
Two factors were primarily responsible. First, during the 1980s bubble economy in Japan, the company borrowed heavily to invest in real estate. After the bubble burst in the 1992-93 recession, the assets secured by Kongo Gumi's debt shrank in value. Second, social changes in Japan brought about declining contributions to temples. As a result, demand for Kongo Gumi's temple-building services dropped sharply beginning in 1998.


The fatal lure of something for nothing.