Which country is home to the world’s oldest continuously-operating business?
To be in business for a long time, follow the law of supply and demand: choose an industry that’s going to last.
Kongo Gumi is in the business of building Buddhist temples, and has been doing so for 14 centuries. Although it is no longer family-owned, the company has managed to sustain operations in Japan since 578 CE.
Headquartered in Osaka, the company was founded by a Korean immigrant who was commissioned to build a temple by Prince Shōtoku (574 - 622 CE). The prince wished to promote Buddhism in Japan. The engineer went on to found and promote his own company, Kongo Gumi, which spent the next several centuries constructing countless temples.
In 2006, Kongo Gumi was acquired by construction conglomerate Takamatsu following a downturn in the overall Japanese economy. Although it’s no longer family-operated, the business is still in operation as a subsidiary, designing and constructing temples and shrines, as well as repairing cultural heritage buildings. The Takamatsu Construction Group website proclaims that “Kongo-Gumi boasts more than 1,400 years of corporate history working exclusively on temples and shrines architecture.”