With the sequestration in full effect and no sign of any deals anytime soon, companies are finding ways to cut costs in order to make the hefty profits pre-recession by outsourcing, automating, and downsizing, but one company refuses to do so. The story of Avedis Zildjian Company sounds like something of a myth especially since in its 390 year history of cymgal manufacturing has never laid off a worker at least in recent history. Instead of laying off employees, the company retrains them for a new position when their jobs are automated plus offers incentive pay for increase productivity. The CEO Craigie Zildjian told NBC about the relationship with workers explaining, “It comes down to trust doesn’t it? You take care of us, and we take care of you.” Being the oldest family owned business in the U.S., the Zildjian company made cymbals in Turkey during the Ottoman Empire, then in Massachusetts during the Great Depression and can trace their history to Avedis Zildjian who was an Armenina alchemist whose secret formula for metals created cymbals with such an entrancing sound that he was invited to live with the sultan in the palace according to AOL jobs. Today, the facotry in Norwell, Mass., is run by 14th generation embers of the family and the Zildjian cymbals have been used by everyone from 19th century composer Richard Wagner to big band drummer Gene Krupa and Ringo Starr. The company currently controls 65 percent of the cymbal market with Craigie Zildjian as CEO and her sister Debbie Zildjian as vice president of Human Resources. The company’s commitment to retraining employees for new jobs is in stark contrast to employers who have cut back on training for decades which increased during the recession leaving only 1 in 5 workers with new skills from employer provided training in the past five years, according to a recent survey. For the past fifteen years, the company has offered 125 employees incentive pay for greater productivity and accuracy which has lead to only two months in 15 years where employees haven’t received a bonus according to Debbie Zildjian. This explains why so many employees are lifers who have been with the company for decades. Zildjian has been inviting music legends to test out their products and help them innovate for decades and to this day they send good tidings and birthday wishes to their artists on their twitter account which almost has 50,000 followers. The company has evolved with time as Craigie and Debbie Zildjian are the first women to run the company. The company’s success may also be due to the special rules for family management which requires as BBC reports that no family member can report to another, everyone must have job experience, college degrees are required, and no spouses allowed.
In 1945, Harald Quandt, 23, a German Luftwaffe officer captured by the Allies received a farewell letter from his mother Magda Goebbels, the wife of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. The letter was to inform him that weeks earlier his mother and her husband along with their six children has committed suicide by cyanide capsule in Adolf Hitler’s bunker in Berlin. In 1947 Quandt was released and seven years later, he and his half brother Herbert inherited their father’s, Guenther Quandt, industrial empire that made Mauser firearms and anti-aircraft missiles for Hitler. Among the assets acquired by the brothers the most valuable were the stake in car manufacturer Daimler AG and then BMW a few years later. The brothers have long since passed away, but the family legacy still endures. Herbert’s widow, Johanna Quandt, 86, and their children Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt, have remained in the public eye as BMW’s dominant shareholders. The billionaire daughters of Harald Quandt — Katarina Geller-Herr, 61, Gabriele Quandt, 60, Anette-Angelika May-Thies, 58, and 50-year-old Colleen-Bettina Rosenblat-Mo — have kept a lower profile. The four sister inherited $760 million after their mother died in 1978. The rise of the Quandt family fortunes is paralleled to Germany and Hitler’s Third Reich in the 20th century. Quandt and Magda married in 1921 then divorced in 1929 when two years later she married Joseph Goebbels who served as head of propaganda for the growing Nazi Party. When the Nazis took power in 1933 Adolf Hitler appointed him the propaganda minister in fact Hitler was his best man at his wedding. Guenther Quandt became a member of the party that same year and became the key supplier for the German war effort. In 1937, he earned the title of Wehrwirtschaftsfuehrer, the name given to members of an elite group of businessmen who were deemed beneficial to the production of war materials for the Third Reich. From 1940 to 1945, the Quandt factories were staffed with more than 50,000 forced civilian laborers, prisoners of war and concentration camp workers. After the war, Guenther Quandt served in an internment camp in Mossburg an der Isar for more than year before being judged as a “Mitlaeufer” meaning that he was not formally involved in the regime’s crimes in 1948 with no repercussions to follow. After the report was published in 2011, cousins Gabriele and Stefan Quandt acknowledge their family’s ties and involvement with the Third Reich in an interview with Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper. Sad reality is the family will have to live with what they have done and what their name represents to the German people. They made their riches from violence, corruption and greed.