Overall Review

In finishing this book, I learned a lot about different leadership styles, what works and what doesn’t and how much goes into the chocolate world.  Hershey and Mars had their fair share of problems, pandemics, and successes.  I feel the largest take away from this book was first leadership and secondly innovation.

I personally was amazed with how Hershey started a whole community with his employees.  He not only employed them, but also had housing, churches, grocery stores, schools, and entertainment in a community for them all.  While this is great to show your employees how valued they are and to keep them long term, was this good?  To me they became very dependent on him and did not realize how the real world worked outside of their community. Once he passed away, no one knew how to make a decision and other people outside of the company began moving in and everything was changing.  The junior college closed, churches suffered because the ones left behind were no longer giving the money to support them.   While I feel his intentions were good for his community, was it really the best for them?  It reminds me more of a parent child relationship than employer/employee relationship. 

                This brings me to talking about the exit plan again.  It is just important.  Business have closed because there was no plan.  Families can be torn apart because they all have their own ideas about what needs to be done.  Have it written out in black and white so there is no question in case you die before you retire.  Just like having a will for your family, you need one for your business.

                Finally, during the earlier years of Hershey and Mars, they fought droughts, too much rain, and shortage of sugar, pest, and so many other pandemics.  In reading about all of that, it reminded me of where I live and the hurricanes we face yearly.  We have had a couple 100-year floods in a two-year period.  They devastated crops, lost cattle, hogs and thousands of turkey’s just miles from my house.  Then, 2020, we have a pandemic.  My point is, even though it has been 50-60 years since their sugar issues, problems do not go away.  You have to plan, think outside of the box, and be ready for whatever lies ahead.  No one saw pandemic coming that would shut down the world for over a year.  Yes, we can kind of plan for hurricanes because we know they come in Eastern North Carolina, but you also have to try to plan for the worst.  I feel that this pandemic opened everyone’s eyes that you can be a booming business one day and be shut down the next at no fault of your own.  Surround yourself with smart, innovative people and keep pushing forward.

Marketing, training, and an exit plan

There was so much going on in the world of Hershey in these chapters. Hershey did no advertising until the 1970’s and by the 1990’s, they were spending $200 million a year in marketing.  Bill Dearden took over sales for Hershey and in 1976, became CEO.  When he brought on two key players, they made him realize how important marketing was and what it was.  Now he was unable to walk into a grocery store without noticing Mars products at checkout, not theirs.  This was in the Hershey grocery stores.  This also led to training of their sales team.  All they were doing was bringing product to the stores, not looking at the shelves to see if they needed more one week, just brought product. They began a marketing plan, how to put it in play, and how to do it better.  Marketing is so important and goes hand in hand with your employees training.  Everyone needs to understand the goals and how you are going to get there.  If it is valentine’s season, plan for it, bring more candy, do not let the shelves get empty, which is what they were doing.  Keep up with technology.  Make sure your team has what they need to succeed and do their job effectively and efficiently.  It can be a daunting task changing the direction of your business like Hershey did, but they proved that it is worth it.  Fear can cause many people to not push forward and miss out on so much. 

                Another aspect that really got me in these chapters was an exit plan.  Do you have one for your business?  We are not going to live forever.  Reese’s was doing pretty well and the owner died leaving his sons to fight over who would be in charge of the company and of course, they all had different ideas about that.  Hershey ended up purchasing them to save the company. Having an exit plan to me is like having a Will for your family.  Make sure you take care of business even when you are gone. In one of the previous classes that was one of our assignments, what is your exit plan?  I had never really thought about it, but quickly realized its importance.  A good leader will pass on the torch and it should be smooth and effortless.  This should be so well planned that the company is not disrupted more than it should be.  Will there be bumps, of course, but planning the best you can is by far the best plan you can have. 

                These chapters showed that planning and great leadership is important.   Look towards the future and stay ahead of the course.  Being an entrepreneur means juggling every ball in the court and having the right people in place to help you do just that even once you are gone. 

How are you going to treat your employees

Over these next few chapters, we see Forrest Mars take finally get control of the company years after his father’s death.  He completely changed the company starting with stopping the buying of the hard shell for the M&M from Hershey. He was extremely rash, but knew what he wanted and how he wanted it done.  He expected perfection.  Forrest would go to a store to purchase a piece of candy and make sure it was perfect; if it was not he made sure, it was addressed right away.  Even calling someone at 3:00am and making them go to the factory to address the problem, if the employee did  not like it, he told them he would find someone who would go out at 3:00 am and work. 

                What I would like to talk about is how you treat your employees.  I will tell you, after reading these few chapters; I could not have worked for Mr. Mars.  He was tough and many employees did not respect him.  Many stayed working in the Mars Company because he paid well, even though he would and did slash salaries if the numbers were bad. 

                Is this the type of leader you want to be.  For me that is a hard no.  I want people to respect me just as I respect them.  I worked in Pennsylvania for about six months many-many moons ago.  After being there, I had employees tell me how much they appreciated me because they had never had anyone come in and treat them with respect.  I was blown away.  I cannot imagine treating people as if they were beneath me.  Without employees, your business will not function well. 

                Now granted, Mr. Mars was successful, but at what cost.  He seemed to be out for only the dollar, not to live.  I think as future entrepreneurs, we need to ask ourselves, how we want our business to run.  It can be a fine line, do not let the employees walk all over you, but respect them.  I have found that if you work with your employees, not just become the dictator, you will have a team that will work hard for you and take care of your business.

A happy workplace

Over the next few chapters we learn a lot about how Hershey grew his business, worked to obtain loyalty from his employees, and gave back.  To sum up some of the most important parts, Hershey wanted his employees to feel valued and apart of the company.  He went on to create his own town the housed, employed, taught, and entertained everyone.  All of his employees lived in the town.  He created schools for the employees children, gave to all three churches, created museums, and made sure they all had great benefits including insurance in case they got sick. He also encouraged them to buy houses instead of renting. 

                This created trust and even ownership in the company.  He had employees that ran the same wrapping machine for 30 years.  They would come in, check out all the parts, oil it down, and make sure it was working properly before the start of their shift.  Putting into your employees as he did can add so much value. People felt appreciated and safe.

Giving back was very important to Hershey and I feel it paid out very well for him.  He was one that didn’t like to deal with the day to day, but to create, he was a dreamer.  One thing about entrepreneurs is they are always thinking and looking ahead.  This was important when he saw a sugar shortage coming.  Instead of stressing out, he bought 1500 acres of sugarcane.  Now he has a supply.  It is so important to be vigilant and look ahead.  We have discussed over the past few classes about surrounding yourself with people that fill in where you lack.  You wear every hat in your company and that can be exhausting.  Hershey proved that passing responsibilities off and making your employees feel valued is important.  He was able to do the part of the business that he enjoyed while trusting the ones he hired to carry on with the business.  His employees worked hard for him because they respected him as a leader.                 

I have said in the past that having a leader you respect is even more important than one realizes.  I have worked for a boss that was not a leader.  The whole team fell apart and left.  The business has struggled and new employees are in and out monthly.  I now work for a boss that is a fearless leader.  She is one of the hardest working individuals I know.  It makes a difference in productivity.  You work harder for someone you respect

Archenemies, allies, or both?

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.

Overcoming Roadblocks

The emperors of chocolate Inside the secret word of Hershey and Mars

Hershey and Mars have been in competition since 1911. They both want to be the number one market in the US.   Hershey even accusing Mars of selling plastic, not chocolate.  That is pretty harsh and did not take long for Mars get a hold of the rumor.  These rumors came from Mars selling non melting candy.  While the feud and completion took up a lot of the first three chapters, I would like to focus on how Mars faced a huge roadblock and succeeded.

Mars products faced a taunting time after expanding their business in the Persian Golf.  Saddam Hussein decided to attack Kuwait.  All of the Mars executives were in a frenzy trying to figure out how to keep their products in circulation.  They came together and thought outside of the box.  After a few days of working together, they came up with a marketing plan.  The quickly went to all of their distributors, encouraging them that the bars would sell quickly, they would not have money tied up in inventory, and they would have the companies support during the crisis.  Once orders began coming in, they then focused on the military supplying not on US troops but also Britain troops. They developed a bar that had 600 calories in it for the troops while also able to with stand 120 heat and water.  All of these qualifications had to meet standards.  “Mars was the only company to operate an air-conditioned distribution warehouse and control an enormous fleet of refrigerated supply trucks, a noon to the troops who were being scattered throughout the 400,000 square mile of Saudi Desert” (Brenner, pg8).  Mars completely stepped outside of the box and not only found way to deliver their candy, came up with a way to have candy that will not melt in the desert, but they also helped the troops out during the process.  

                Though not exactly the same, we have faced many challenges this past year. COVID has affected my job making me think outside the box.  I am the Development Coordinator at Lenoir Community College which means I do all the fundraising/events to raise money for scholarships.  We have had to cancel many events, therefor losing a lot of money.  We did not have an alumni program, so that is something I have started and am continually building, started marketing plan for the foundation and do more direct contact with donors.  As a team, we are turning a hard situation into opportunities.  Another example is our thank you notes that all of our scholarship recipients have to write.  Normally we take group pictures and put them in the paper.  This past year we took individual pictures of the recipients, sent their picture with the thank you and this left us with faces for marketing.  It was a win-win for everyone. 

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