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#178 Henokiens From Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, January 18, 2023




#178 Blog Post    Wednesday, 17 January 2023


Posted by Denny Hatch


51 Family Businesses Over 200 Years Old!

Planet Earth’s ThirdMost Exclusive Club.


The world’s oldestfamily-owned business is the Hoshi Hotel 
In Ishikawa, Japan. It first opened itsdoors in 717 A.D.

Yep, it’s still in thefamily after 1306 years!  And yep, you can book one of its 450 rooms.Phone: +81 761-65-1112

Click here for complete info on the Hoshi.
Prepare to be blown away—Guaranteed!



In last week’s blogpost we explored the two most exclusive clubs in the world:

#1. The five living ex-Presidents ofthe United States.

#2. The eight Grandmasters of the RoyalPalaces of Europe.



I believe the third most exclusive club in the world is theHenokiens—a little-known association of family-owned businesses with 51 membersin 2023.


The Grim Stats of Today’s Business Startups

in any given year, about 50% of new businesses close withintheir first year. In the next 12 months after that, nearly half of those thatdidn’t close in the beginning are gone for good. After three years, it’s 90%,and after five years, it’s 99%. And we’re talking just survival here – manystartups don’t get huge or make money, but they endure somehow for a decade ormore.—The Business Data List


The Four Outlandish Requirements
For Henokiens’ Membership

1. The company is managed by a descendant of the founder.

2. The family still owns the company or isthe majority shareholder.

3.  It must be in good financial health.

4.  The company has reached a minimum age of 200 years [sic!].


Fifty-one family businesses... all well over 200 years old? And still going strong? Whew! WOW!


I could never have started a family business to last 200 years. I'm sterile. Was an only child. Never had kids.

The Oldest and the Youngest

The oldest Henokienmember is the Hoshi Hotel. The second oldest is Beretta founded in 1526 andstill going strong.


The youngest Henokienis the Bolloré Group with HQ in Puteaux, France. Founded in 1822 it started outin the “thin paper” business (cigarettes and Bible paper). Over the years it hasmorphed into a giant conglomerate whose myriad enterprises include aerospace,health care, cosmetics and perfume, chemicals and energy. The current CEO is 70-year-oldVincent Bolloré, ranked by Bloomberg as the 499th richest person inthe world with reported net worth of $9.7 billion.



The Ten Henokien Countries (and number of members)

Henokiens are found in:

Italy (14)

France (14)

Japan (9)

Germany (4)

Switzerland (3)

The Netherlands (2)

Belgium (2)

Ireland (1)

UK (1)

Austria (1)


Not a Player in theGame: The U.S. of A.

Some American companies that do fit thecriteria have been identified but have not sought admission to this eliteorganization.


An example: on Dec.31, 2002, was Eric Pace's New York Times obituaryof Armand Zildjian, 81, whose family company has been making cymbals inMassachusetts since 1623.


Another example of an American candidate was Freeman’sauction house founded in 1805. Since I have lived in Philly for the past 20years it has been of particular interest to me. The glorious works of art in itsChestnut Street windows are always eye-popping. I always stop to have a look…and dream.



Alas… in 2016 Freeman’s Took
Itself Out of the Running

Freeman’s holds anesteemed place as America's oldest auction house and as one of the country’sfirst family-owned businesses. The company was founded by TristramBampfylde Freeman in 1805 and remained in the hands of the Freeman family forsix generations with landmark sales throughout its storied history. In 2016, controlling interest of the auctionhouse was transferred to an internal management team in support of an ambitiousgrowth strategy and desireto elevate the brand both nationally and internationally blah… blah… blah. —Freeman's website



The Extraordinary Corporate
Cultures Over the Centuries

Throughout the hundreds of years—amidstplagues, wars, depressions and political upheavals—how in the dickens did thesefamilies deal with personnel problems? Imagine a dotty old uncle or horny youngerbrother (a “spare?”) who wanted to cash out and run off with his favoritehooker? What about plain untalented dolts, drunks or gamblers or who despisedthe family business and dreamed of becoming poets?


No More Sour Grapes

Obviously, thesefamily-owned enterprises had to continually modify their business models andmarketing techniques to keep up with the times. Okay, some did not have to makeradical changes over the years. For example, take vintners. Over the centuriesmachinery was invented to extract grape juice from grapes. No longer are theworkers required to stand knee deep in wooden vats and stomp on harvests of grapesin their (ugh!) bare feet.


On the other hand,Viellard Migenon & Cie of France—founded in 1796—started out as ironmongers in the 18th century and morphed into making fishhooks and chains.According to the Henokiens’ Web site: "Today the products manufacturedrange from refracting steel screws for airplane engines, titanium rivets tovanadium fishhooks, cosmetics packaging and specific welding products."


The Rogue Employee Problem

One bad actor acrossthe years can bring a fine old and respected company to its knees. E.g., in1995, the UK’s oldest merchant bank—Barings, founded in 1762—crashed and burned.Rogue derivatives trader Nick Leeson in Singapore executeda series of fraudulent, unauthorized and speculative transactions that resulted in losses £1 billion. Leeson served four years in Singapore’sChangi Prison.


The remarkable Henokienfamilies who launched these companies not only wrestled with creating andmarketing products and services, but also had to be self-taught in the philosophy and rulesof succession. After all, this was long before business management became a popquasi-science promulgated by Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, Edward Deming and McKinsey & Co. whotraveled the world preaching the doctrine and collecting fat consulting fees.No books on the subject existed. Prior to the twentieth I would bet a cookie no books on the subject existed.


Very likely Drucker,Peters and Deming could have learned a lot more from theHenokiens than the Henokiens could learn from them. These families did notsubscribe to Forbes, FastCompany or Family Business. Theydid not watch Fox Business News or CNBC or call each other on the telephone,because no telephones existed until the 20th century.


It is highly unlikelythat any these business families in 10 different countries even knew of each other, let alone got togetherat business conferences at a flashy hotel in Chicago or Cannes to compare notes.


From the Henokiens’Website



Why the Henokiens

In 1981, the idea of creating an association of bicentenary familybusinesses came from the Chairman of Marie Brizard, a descendant of the creatorof the first anisette in 1755. He decided to place it under the aegis of Henokor Enoch) a name from the Bible. Henok (or Enoch), one of the greatestBiblical patriarchs, was the son of Cain and the father of Methuselah. He livedbefore the Great Flood and was 365 years old when he ascended to Heaven withoutexperiencing death. After a year of research, Gerard Glotin, Chairman of MarieBrizard was able, with the help of 164 Chambers of Commerce and 25 embassyattachés, to identify 74 companies. From this, a selection of approximately 30was made. The first meeting took place in 1981 in Bordeaux. Since then,Henokiens meet each year in a different country for their General Meeting. In2015 it was in Italy, 2016 in The Netherlands and in Austria in 2017.


Venice, Italy was the venue of the 2022 Henokiens’ annualMeeting.


Who Are the Henokiens?

Each of the companies has a fascinating history. At times, theseinvolve legendary characters and industrial adventures that could serve as asource of inspiration for literature, television or film, all three media beinggreat amateurs of dynasties. Despite or perhaps because of their illustriousancestors, Henokiens are deeply rooted in the economic realities of the presentand they manage their companies with talent, navigating between modernism andtradition, between know-how transmitted from the past and innovation ordiversification. Henokiens are unwilling to rest on their laurels and areconstantly striving to achieve more than previous generations. The developmentof their firms has been continuous. However, corporate power is not a criterionin becoming a Henokiens member. Priority is given to solidity. This explainswhy companies of different sizes can be found among Henokiens members who mayboast world-renowned figures or names less well-known by the general public.


To Find Everything Important About the
51 Companies That Make up the Henokiens:

1.   Click on https://www.henokiens.com

2.   Find this square at right on thewebsite and click on it.

3. Click on the individual company's name for the Web page.


IMHO Two Parts of this Henokiens’ Website Are
Essential Reading for Serious Business Mavens

1.  Case Studies and Reports about the members.

2.  51 Questions to Prepare the Handing Down of aFamily Company.


My Failed Dream …
The Henokiens are notwell-known. Type “Henokiens” into an Amazon search of its 32.8 million book titles and here’s what comes up:


Showing results from All Departments
No results for Henokiens in Books


Americans Don't Give Two Hoots for Henokiens

Visit the Henokiens’ Press Roomand you’ll discover 102 articles about the organization over the past dozenyears. They are all in French, Italian, Austrian and German. Not one of thestories is in the English language.

About the Henokiens’ Amazing Website(s)

Very Worth Studying and Stealing SmartFrom

My first job in direct marketing was in 1961. This was pre-ZipCodes… pre-computerized personalization and pre-data analyses. It was a worldof long, easy-to-read letters always in this courier font (hopefully to fool theeye of the reader into “the willing suspension of disbelief” and imagining thiswas the real thing).


You’d think the 200-years-plus Henokiens’ consortium would wantto somehow make hay out of the elegance of the eras and epochs in which these companiesstarted up.


Uh-uh. If anything, their great age is treated as anafterthought—almost as an “oh-by-the-way.” Check out their websites. Quaintthey ain’t. 


For serious marketers, the fascinating elements are 

these ancientcompanies’ spectacular modern websites!


• Modern design with magnificent color illustrations.

• Easy-to-read headlinesand involving, copy brimming with excitement and enthusiasm.

• I guarantee spending time with this grand cornucopia of websiteswill be well worth the time spent.

• In short, I urge you to dive in and STEAL SMART!


A Book Crying to Be Written

The Henokiens is abook I have desperately wanted to write for years. My problem: a long-establishedcareer as the world’s foremost expert in junk mail (direct marketing), the compulsive needfor a regular paycheck, saving for retirement and a 53-year marriage to a spectacular wife.It would take four years and $ix-to-$even figure$ to pay for (our) world travel,expenses through Europe and Japan and missing our circle of friends.  I don’t have an agent. I hit 87 last August. Itain’t in the cards.


But this is a bookwould be an international best-seller for decades andrequired reading for everyone who is in a family business or thinking aboutstarting one. Guaranteed.


To some author andpublisher out there, I offer the World War II submariners' toast: "Goodhunting."


Takeaways to Consider (This is Fun!)

• Any (legit) organization making a profit over several hundred years on into the present must be doing something right and is worth serious study.

• Another Possible Exclusive Club:Living James Bonds.

• If you recall, last week’sblog post started off with a .25 caliber Beretta pocket pistol. It is manufacturedby the privately held Pietro Beretta Weapons Factory in Italy, the oldestfirearms company in the world, founded in 1526. It was a favorite of Ian Fleming's central character, James Bond.

It occurred to me after that fact that another small club—smallerthan the current living ex-Presidents of the United States—would be living James Bonds. Eight actors belong tothe fraternity of those who have played 007; alas, four have assumed roomtemperature.


Live Bonds:  

            George Lazenby (1939 -   )

                      Timothy Dalton  (1946 -  )

                      Pierce Brosnan  (1953 -  )

                      Daniel Craig.     (1968 -   )


Dead Bonds:   

             Barry Nelson (1917 – 2007)

                  David Niven.   (1910-1983)       

                        Sean Connery (1930–2020)

                         Roger Moore. (1927–2017)


Barry Who as James Bond???… Barry Nelson?  



You are invited to have a look at the very first James Bond Movie (1954).

     A one-hour episode starring Barry Nelson,
     Peter Lorre and Linda Christian on the
     Chrysler's Weekly TV Program, CLIMAX


Barry Nelson as Bond (far left) and Peter Lorre (far right)
At the Climax Casino Royale Baccarat Table.





Word count: 2108



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