Who knew one of the M’s on the M&M candy stood for Murrie of Hershey’s R. Bruce Murrie.  Murrie was Forest Mars’s partner in the M&M business.  Hershey says that if it were not for their relationship, M&M’s would not exist.  It was common back then to help your competitors, oh where we may all be today if we could live by that.  By 1932, Mars was number two in the industry, behind Hershey.  They were good friends even working together when Frank needed help early on.  “It was a different era,” says Richard Murrie.  Everyone was friendly, respected each other and helped each other.  Mars even buying his coating form Hershey.  Hershey did not look at Mars as competition, but as their best customer helping them reach over 8.4 million pounds a month in coating sales. 

            Over the next few chapters, we see how Forrest Mars found by mistake his father Frank Mars when Frank bailed him out of jail.  We go on to see that Forrest was not content with the income that he and his father were making and wanted to expand their company abroad (which I would be happy with), so he goes out on his own and creates his own company.  Not too long later, his father died and he merged the two companies together. Forrest was a true entrepreneur.  He wanted to create and let others manage. 

            What stuck out to me through these chapters were two things.  One, they failed many times, but kept on going and kept on working to the goals they had.  Second, was how Mars and Hershey were rivals, but worked together.  Not everyone can be perfect at everything.  I for instance have so many ideas in my head, but putting it on paper is a whole other ballgame.  I am working on a marketing plan for my department right now.  I am working with a coworker who can write well.  We sit there, I spill it all out, and she can write up exactly what I am trying to say.   In order to be successful, sometimes we need to put pride aside and realize that other people are better at certain things than we are and vice versa.  Even Forrest Mars knew he did not want any part of managing; he just wanted to create because he loved the tense feeling of trying to get a new business or product off the ground.  It is good to find a counterpart that can compensate for what one lacks. 

Brenner, Joel G, 1999. The emperors of chocolate.  Inside the secret world of Hershey and Mars.

8 Comments

  1. I think I am invested at this point to see how the saga continues between Mars and Hershey!

    You brought up several good points. One being we all have our strengths and weaknesses. As entrepreneurs, we strive for perfection, however, we need to know when to ask for assistance. The other aspect is working with your “rivals”. During our interviews with the Subject Matter Expert, he discussed how he has direct competition with another business but they then turned the competition into a collaboration which allowed for a great product to be created.

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    1. Katie,
      You are right, we need to know when to ask for help, but with that comes looking at yourself and becoming real with yourself. There is also nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, you never know what can come out of it.

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  2. Katherine,

    Great post, and I love where you took the thought process. It would be nice to go back to competitors helping one another out and not biting each other’s heads off. What good does all the money in the world do you if you don’t have friends or family to share it with?

    Leaning on other people’s strengths is critical to getting by in life. Sometimes it is easy to think we have it all figured out, and then along comes someone who does it better than us. As you said, combining two people’s strengths will always produce a higher quality product than sticking it out alone.

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  3. Katherine,
    Another interesting post! How crazy is it that Hershey and Mars worked together even though they were competitors? It is interesting that collaboration is encouraged and discouraged depending on what field you are in. Veterinary Medicine is a field where you share knowledge and techniques freely. Doctors are constantly reaching out to each other to gather opinions and collaborate. However, in the tech industry everything is trademarked and secretively developed. I have enjoyed being a part of the crafting network because there is a lot of communication and sharing between members. I don’t like cutthroat competition and backstabbing and I don’t think I would enjoy that type of business environment either. I find that I enjoy my work if I can share it with others who enjoy it as well.
    -Bri

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  4. Hi Katherine,

    Oh what a world it would be if competitors worked together?! I feel like the possibilities would be endless! You brought up some great takeaways. We often try to carry the world on our shoulders when it comes to nurturing our business. We need to be surrounded by people who strengths counteract with our weaknesses to help our business flourish. Pride is something that can hold “the best of the best” back from their highest potential. This book seems very interesting and sounds like a good read.

    Alicia

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  5. Hey Katherine, this truly shows how the landscape within the entrepreneurial world has evolved from the 1900’s. I appreciate how you shared this story and pointed out the tenacity both Forrest Mars and his father Frank had even when they failed. I could just imagine all of the hardship the family must’ve endured and maybe there were some “lively” discussions within the family. I think this story shows just how competition can push individuals to obtaining success they wouldn’t have had. I liken this story to some great sports rivalries such as Magic vs Bird, Ali vs Foreman, Yankees Vs Red Sox, etc. I also see that Mars benefited greatly from this “competition” as it may have forced new consumers to try both brands, which reminds me of the recent Chick-Fil-A vs Popeyes chicken challenge. Both companies sales benefited from the publicity associated with challenge and i suppose made millions the process. Great post.

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  6. Kate,
    Reading through your piece, I picked up two important qualities. Not giving up and the ability to work other people even if they are your competitors. Sometimes it not easy to continue a task or project after so many failed attempts. Character matters here. And to be able to continue trying until you are successful defines your character. This character is linked or connected with a vision and sense of conviction. It is only when you have a vision and believe in your project, that is when the character of not giving is born. And sometimes the success of the project means crossing over the aisle to work with even your rival or competitor.

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  7. Katherine,
    I believe knowing when to ask for help is an insightful and beneficial takeaway for all. Two minds are always better than one. Traditionally I believe as a society we have judged people based on quantitative factors such as a student with the highest grades and test scores is seen as the most likely to succeed or a sales representative who always meets his quota and follows instruction to the “T” is the most favorable candidate for a promotion. This false perception of what warrants success has led us to learn to work independently in a race against one another. Luckily, I believe we are in a transition to interconnectedness due to increased technology allowing and encouraging more people to interact and work together. I hope this increase in communication and information sharing lessens the stigma that asking for help is a sign of weakness. If anything, the inability to asking for help is a weakness in itself.

    Great review,
    Courtney

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