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.

The John Stevens Shop

oldest american company john stevens
  • Type of business: Stone carving
  • Year founded: 1705

John Stevens put up his shingle in Newport, R.I. in 1705, seven years after emigrating from England and 71 years before the United States of America was formed. He sold everything from rum and molasses back then, but the store's bread and butter was stone carving, specifically gravestones.

In 1927, the Stevens family sold the business to John Howard Benson, who was enamored by the colonial gravestone designs it used to create.

Nick Benson, a trained calligrapher, stone carver and John Benson's grandson, runs the business today. The company still engraves headstones, but it also does the carving on memorials like the FDR Four Freedoms Park.

He says the business has survived for two reasons: He's not concerned about making big bucks and he cares deeply about his work.

"We don't care about the money as much as we care about the product," he says. "I'm inspired by the legacy I've received."

  @CNNMoney - Last updated December 13 2013 07:25 AM ET
Join the Conversation
More Small Business
hammonds candies

America's largest -- and oldest -- candy cane maker churns out 7 million canes every year, each rolled, shaped and cut by hand.

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.