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(1 of 2) Trade secrets of oldest family firm in US

Via: BBC

Nearly 400 years ago, in 1623, Avedis Zildjian founded a cymbal-manufacturing company in Istanbul.

Now run by 14th generation family member Craigie Zildjian, along with her sister Debbie, the company has outlasted empires, survived a move overseas to the US, and thrived during the economic turmoil of the Great Depression and two World Wars.

Today, the company controls 65% of the world’s cymbal market, and took in more than $50m in revenues last year.

But for the Zildjians, it’s more than just a business.

Walking through the halls of the Zildjian factory in Norwell, Massachusetts, is like getting a front row seat to music history.

The hallways are lined with photos of famous drummers such as Ringo Starr and Roy Haynes. Jazz drummer Buddy Rich’s drum kit is preserved in full.

Drummers of all stripes often arrive to test the Zildjians’ latest cymbals – there’s even a special pressurised room that can re-create the acoustics of concert venues around the country.

Yet musicians are a fickle bunch, and the music industry is constantly in flux.

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So what are the Zildjians’ secrets to staying in business for nearly four centuries?

Every Zildjian who wants to work in the family business must get a college degree, preferably in business. They also must intern while in high school or college, to get a taste of the company’s standards.

But come graduation, don’t expect a job with the company right away, say Craigie and Debbie.

Another rule requires family members to work elsewhere to get experience outside the company.

Even once they join the company, as Debbie’s daughter Cady recently did, strict rules ensure that a family member never reports to another. This, says Craigie, is simply just best practice – family business or not.

Beyond that, though, there are a few quirky rules that the sisters have instituted.

“One of the things we’ve always done is we have never had spouses involved in the business,” says Debbie Zildjian.

She jokingly adds another rule: “We’ve always encouraged our daughters not to get involved with musicians, especially drummers.”

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June 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment