5 of the oldest businesses in America

Small businesses often don't last longer than five years, but these companies have been around -- and thrived -- for centuries. Here are their secrets for long-term success.

Bachman Funeral Home

oldest ameica company bachman funeral 2
  • Type of business: Funeral Parlor
  • Year founded: 1769

Johannes Bachman's story is the classic immigrant tale. His family was persecuted for their beliefs, left Europe for America, opened a local business and became a pillar of the community. Where Bachman differs is that the business he started in 1769 still exists today.

Today, the Stasburg, Pa.-based firm is a traditional funeral home, but like any long-lasting business, it's had to adapt with the times.

It started as a carpentry shop, where Johannes was the area's go-to builder. He made furniture, cabinets and, most importantly, coffins.

In 1885, factories started mass-producing furniture, which forced the business to focus solely on coffins. That took a hit when larger manufactures made coffins on the cheap. In the 1910s, the family gave up coffin making altogether and started a funeral home.

The firm has been successful because it's identified the industry's changing trends, said John Bachman, the current owner. It helps that Johannes' ancestors are driven by the same thing the founder was motivated by hundreds of years ago: community.

"There's a certain amount of pride in this job," said Bachman. "It's about feeling respected, appreciated and about helping people around you."

- Last updated July 30 2014 04:55 PM ET
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