Abstract: Religion and Managerial Decision Making: How the Oldest Company in the United States Survived for over 300 Years through the Implementation of Quaker Principles in Its Mission

Kelly Kilcrease


In 1702, Joseph Rhoads established a tanning company in Marple Township, Pennsylvania, that would go through eight generations of family members and is still in operation today. The company, J. E. Rhoads & Sons, eventually transformed into a manufacturer of conveyor belts. How has such a small, relatively unknown company not only survived for over three hundred years but actually thrived? Through the examination of the original corporate records, the corporate mission was found to be the cornerstone of the firm's longevity. Based on Quaker doctrine, this mission greatly influenced J. E. Rhoads & Sons when making decisions regarding organizational structure, employees, competition, and customers.. However, their mission also created challenges for the firm, as they lost income because of their refusal to sell to any business that was a part of the alcohol, tobacco, or defense industries.