December 6, 2016

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The History Factory

The History Factory

It’s no secret that businesses and corporations are always looking forward. The next big product, the next big innovation, the next quarterly report. And yet, many businesses have histories as rich and fascinating as anything you’d find in a history book. But is there any money to be made in preserving your company’s legacy?

There is if you’re Bruce Weindruch. Weindruch actually makes his money helping other companies preserve and document their history. Sounds like a history buff’s dream job, right? So how did he come by such a profession? Find out by listening to our brand new, Why Didn’t I Think of That? story on The History Factory.

Play

Why would companies pay The History Factory to document their history? Here’s how Weindruch explained it in an interview with The Wall Street Transcript:

The value to a client is pretty straightforward. I mean they have a resource that they already own. It’suniquely theirs. It differentiates them from anyone. It’s called their history. We immediately add value by providing something that they don’t have to go out and buy. The unique value proposition on the archival side is that their history is safe and sound, it’s accessible, and we can show them lots of ways to use it. From the interpretive side, the value proposition is based upon the notion that there is nothing more powerful in persuading people than history. We like to say there is nothing more compelling than truth.

On the interpretive side, there’s another part of value proposition. We are creative, we do it well, we do it a lot fasterand a lot cheaper than a company can do it themselves. That’s the classic outsource model.

And, to my untrained eye, it seems like a lot of companies are starting to take stock of their historical assets. Look at Pepsi. Their Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback lines use their original recipes and branding, refashioning their brand history as new products.

But what’s in it for Weindruch? Well that’s simple. He loves history. Here on the Why Didn’t I Think of That? Blog, we’ve talked about the axiom, Pursue Your Passion. And, as Bob and Greg point out in the story, that’s exactly what Bruce Weindruch has done with the History Factory.

So often, we limit ourselves when thinking about the interests, skills, and personality traits that can make us an asset to others. “I’m good at blogging,” or, “I’m good with accounting.” There are some skills that we just take for granted as more beneficial than others. But what about “I love history?” Wendruch was lucky enough to see a way his passion could become a unique business, and he made it happen.

Now, the History Factory is helping companies preserve their rich heritage, and making a killing doing it. History buff or not, if this story inspires you, it might be time to take out a sheet of paper and make a long list of your skills, interests, and passions. Don’t worry about whether they could be lucrative or not.  Worry about what you love the most. Do you love learning the latin names of bugs? Write it down. Love burning piles of money? Write it down. When you’ve finished your list, take the time to put them in order– from your favorite things to your least favorite.

Now look at the top three traits, hobbies, and passions. Are you incorporating any of those three things into your daily life, into your career? You may be surprised by how many traits and passions you’re already using at your business or job. Or you may realize that these are areas of your personality that aren’t quite getting the workout they deserve.

What’s the point? Well, money’s great, but it’s passion and interests that keep us going.  Bruce Weindruch was living his passion even before he started the History Factory, when he was working as a tour guide for the National Portrait Gallery. Then, with a little bit of luck, foresight, and confidence, he turned that passion into a strong, unique, and profitable business.

The History Factory is still going strong after more than thirty years. Below is a video from 2009 in which Bruce Weindruch gives a tour of The History Factory’s offices and archives. An interesting look into the world of freelance business historians.


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  • http://www.historyfactory.com Corporate Historian

    I used to work at The History Factory. It was a really cool experience. There’s definitely no other company like it. They definitely found a niche and have done surprisingly well with company history books, archiving services, and corporate histories.

  • JC

    What does the History Factory do when they come across materials that most CEOs don’t want to see the light of day, like IBMs innovative computers that helped the Nazis? Does the History Factory suppress that information? Just the name History “Factory” makes me wonder – what are they manuFACTuring?

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