Family Affair: Rise of the Mittelstand

Avedis Zildjian Company

Joby Sessions | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Name: Avedis Zildjian Company
Founded: 1623
Location: Norwell, U.S.
Employees: 107

Zildjian traces its roots all the way back to 1618, when Avedis, an Armenian alchemist based in Constantinople – modern day Istanbul – discovered an alloy of copper, tin and silver that enabled him to manufacture cymbals with exceptional sound quality.

The unique sound of Avedis' cymbals drew the interest of the Ottoman Empire's Sultan Osman II, who invited him to live at court and gave him the family name 'Zildjian', Armenian for 'cymbal smith'. Zildjian was allowed to leave court in 1623 and set up his own business.

Today, nearly 400 years and 15 generations later, the business – which employs 107 people and has an annual revenue of $48 million – is based in Norwell, Massachusetts. Craigie Zildjian is CEO, while her sister Debbie Zildjian is VP, Human Resources.

The quality of Zildjian's cymbals has made them the choice of some of the world's best drummers, including Ginger Baker and Dave Grohl (pictured), as well as composers such as Wagner.