Friday, August 6, 2010

Hussey Seating Celebrates 175 Years in Business

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
The Hussey Seating Company celebrated its 175 years as a family-owned business last week at its headquarters here.
A series of events were held to mark the milestone, including tours of the facility, remarks by Hussey family members including CEO Tim Hussey and a keynote address by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on the green at the corporate headquarters, and, off site, a lobster dinner and fireworks.
Hussey, the maker of seating for many facilities including high schools and professional sports organizations, is reported to be the 49th oldest family owned business in the country and the oldest in Maine, Hussey said.
It was founded by William Hussey, a Quaker, in 1835 and has evolved over the years from the maker of unique plows to help farmers deal with Maine’s rocky soil, through the makers and installer of fire escapes to one of the world’s leaders in arena seating.
Among the places they have provided seating for is Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, home of the New England Patriots, Hadlock Field in Portland, home of the Portland Sea Dogs, a AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., the new home of the Detroit Lions of the NFL.
Senator Collins, a fitting speaker for such a celebration, noted that for years she thought her family’s business, S.W. Collins in Caribou, was the oldest in the state but Hussey Co. was nine years old when the Collins business was established.
She put the span the business has been in existence in perspective: “Many heroes of the American Revolution still lived and many heroes of the Civil War had yet to be born.”
At that time, she continued, much of the state of Maine was unexplored and the invention of the lobster trap was still 16 years away.
Nearly 50 Hussey family members were in attendance along with more than 200 currently and retired employees and their families, some suppliers and friends.
“This is indeed a rare event,” Tim Hussey said. “The odds of making it this long are small.”
Hussey said family businesses are not uncommon. He said approximately 80 percent of businesses are family owned. But the longevity of Hussey is uncommon indeed.
“Less than 30 percent of family businesses make it to the second generation,” he said, and only between 3 to 5 percent make it to the third generation. Hussey is in its sixth generation.
“Basically we better not screw it up,” he said. “We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. We have a great sense of family in this business.”
He thanked the company employees, past and present, for their help in helping sustain the business through good years and bad. “You’re also family,” he said.
The company has been a leader. Hussey said it was the first in Maine to offer profit sharing to its employees and was the first smokeless business in the state as well.
In conclusion, Sen. Collins said Hussey Seating “is an industry leader around the world. Hussey stands tall when people need a place to sit.”
Photo caption: 6th and 7th generation Hussey family members followed by guests lead a procession at Hussey Seating’s 175th Anniversary celebration on Friday, July 31st. (Courtesy photo)