Think about the place you work right now. Maybe it’s a small business, a large company—maybe it’s yours and you own it.

Now, think about your same establishment and the product or service you sell…and what it could look like in 100 years.
Kind of mind boggling isn’t it?

Hopefully, by the year 2116, the commute will be much better because cars will be flying, you will be able to teleport to your next sales call and robots will be handling any workplace printer problems.

But in all seriousness, it’s not a lucky setup that enables a business to stay afloat for more than a century. So much changes, and not always in a good “flying car” kind of way—sometimes the economy tanks, bad management takes control or technology causes society’s expectations or demands to do a U-turn. Owners have to adapt with these challenges and find a way to stay relevant and thriving through the decades.

In this issue, we set out to hear the success stories of four, long-time local businesses—two founded in 1890, another in 1891 and the fourth in 1897. (To put those dates into perspective to flying cars, the first gasoline-powered car wasn’t sold in the U.S. until 1896.) Starting on page 30, take a step back in time with John Stewart Walker Realty, N.B. Handy, L. Oppleman and Schewels. Read about their histories and hear what each owner believes helped his business stand the test of time.

Go back 100 years, and women didn’t have much of a place in the workplace.

Boy, have things changed. On page 24, hear from Lynchburg’s new city manager, Bonnie Svrcek, the city’s first female in the role. And our columnists tackle some issues about women in business. On page 18, what every employer should know about a woman’s maternity leave.

And if my multiple mentions about flying cars have you daydreaming about the future of transportation, on pages 47-50, check out our in-depth look at a few big projects going on in Central Virginia right now. No flying cars in the forecast just yet—but regional business leaders are really excited about the progress on the Odd Fellows Road interchange and related-improvements and a proposal to bring a free bus to Downtown Lynchburg’s business district. We also checked in on the push to bring an Amtrak stop to Bedford and the impact it could have on the town’s economy.
I’m very fortunate my commute to work is simply a few steps from the bedroom to my desk (or, let’s be honest, the couch sometimes). I’m also blessed to be a female in a leadership role and will be taking some maternity leave, myself, sometime in August.

For the next issue of Lynchburg Business, I will be taking care of a new “work at home” project.

And after writing this letter I can’t help but wonder—will my baby girl get a chance to drive a flying car one day?

Shelley Basinger, Managing Editor