by Tim Palisano, President, Lincoln Companies

Last year, our family’s company enjoyed its 100th anniversary of being in business. We celebrated with a big open house event, reflecting and reveling in how far the Palisano family has come since John Palisano and his six sons founded the Lincoln Storage & Carting Company of Buffalo, Inc. in a Niagara Street horse stable with one horse and one wagon. Today, the Lincoln Family of Businesses includes seven unique but integrated companies in the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Tampa markets.

A 100th anniversary is certainly exciting, and as my brothers – Joe and Bill – and I considered what our family has accomplished in a century of doing business in Western New York, it was a powerful sentiment, certainly. A lot of things have to go right, and many challenges have to be overcome, to last in business for that long. What do they say? The average lifespan of a business is seven years?

What amazes us every day is that we’ve reached 100 years of business headquartered in a city that has experienced such extreme economic times. We have seen the highs and the lows – the boom in the early 20th century through the difficult times in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and the recent revival. And we’ve done it in a business that is directly linked to the strength of the economy. Growth or decline in distribution and warehousing are often seen as markers for economic activity – so a company like ours has had to be nimble and responsive to take advantage of the good times, and persevere through the bad.

But something interesting happens when you take in the magnitude of what a century in business means. You wake up the morning following the big anniversary celebration, and an immediate question comes to mind: “What about the next 100 years?” What can we do now, today, and for the immediate future to enhance the legacy that our family has built? It truly is an intimidating question, but one we feel prepared to answer.

We’ve learned that plans for sustainability and succession play a critical role in the longevity of a family business. My brothers and I have always taken this to heart, integrating ourselves into all areas of the business. We’re also grooming the next generation for leadership, as my nephew Zack and cousin Rich now play integral roles in the company, and Bill’s and my sons, Josh and Samuel, are spending their summer home from college this year learning the ropes.

The other principle at the core of 100 years of business is that we can never allow ourselves to stagnate. That’s how businesses die. In that spirit, this year – our 101st – the Lincoln Family of Businesses kicked off the next century by opening Biosan Disposal, utilizing our extensive experience in helping people move things to help companies securely transport and dispose of medical waste.

Of course, the most critical driving force for success in the next century will be building upon what got us to 100 years in the first place, which is our focus on providing excellent service. Of course, everyone says that – but few can point to service that has provided a foundation of sustainability for now over a century. We think back to that cart and horse that John Palisano purchased, and how his simple idea of helping people move things has blossomed into what Lincoln Companies are today. We think that’s something to be proud of – and hope that our great-great grandchildren are writing a piece like this a hundred years from now.