Fourteen Generations and Counting

by Jim Mathis

It has been said that tradition is what we did last weekend and the future is what we are going to do next weekend. It is not only young people that seem to lack a sense of history, but big corporations as well. With the emphasis on short term profits rather than long-term growth, old venerable brands like Oldsmobile and Plymouth are quietly swept away by the marketing plan of the month.

That it why it is so encouraging to see businesses that are still operating with their original purpose, being successful after what must seem like an eternity to others. This is particularly true in musical instrument manufacturing. Fender is celebrating their sixtieth anniversary of making electric guitars and amplifiers. Though the company has had several owners, the basic designs have not changed.

Gibson Guitars was established in 1894 by Orville Gibson and is stronger than ever. The same is true of Steinway Pianos established in 1853 and Martin Guitars from 1833. These old established manufacturers are some of the oldest companies in the United States and continue to demand the highest respect from their customers and peers by insisting on the highest quality over fads and marketing ploys. There is a lot to be said for staying close to your purpose and plugging away year after year, through good times and bad.

But for sheer longevity, none of these can compete with the granddaddy of all musical instrument companies, Avedis Zildjian. Zildjian was founded in 1623 in Constantinople. Avedis was trying to make gold when he came up with something far more interesting. His mixture of copper, tin, and silver produced a unique sound when struck. He was given the family name “Zildjian” which is Armenian for “cymbal maker” by the Sultan. The secret formula for the metal used in Zildjian cymbals has been passed down through fourteen generations of the Zildjian family – fourteen generations. Craigie Zildjian is the current CEO.

The company moved to Quincy, Mass. in 1929 at the beginning of the jazz age. As Avedis Zildjian III developed strong relationships with Gene Krupa and other jazz and pop drummers, Zildjian was able to have a huge influence on the use of percussion in modern music. Zildjian made it a practice to listen to musicians and find out what their needs were and invent the tools they needed to create the sound they wanted. After 383 years in business, Zildjian is still the world’s leading cymbal and drum stick manufacturer.

Christians are called to persevere, have patience, and work heartily and consistently. In an age when many of us have trouble keeping up with the current name of the company we work for, it is nice to know that some names have been around for hundreds of years, making a consistent product year after year.

As individuals we need to see our giftedness, know our skills, understand our calling, and stay focused, working consistently to carry out our God-given purpose in life. God does not ask us to be all things to all people, but to know who we are, and to stay focused on the task.

Jim Mathis
Bob Kaat-Wohlert
Theresa Kaat- Wohlert
Wes Burrows
Charles David Smart

Articles by Jim Mathis
I Corinthians 13
Here's the Low Down
Let's Start a Band
Fourteen Generations
The Steel Guitar