H.J. Heinz: From Bankrupt to Mogul
1) Before becoming successful Heinz went bankrupt. This is how it happened: In 1875 there was a banking crisis in the US. Heinz had already begun a company that sold horseradish. In order to pay for his vegetable shipments Heinz had taken out several bank loans to finance his expansion. But when the crisis hit, the money ran dry and it left Heinz several thousand dollars in debt. Most of the farmers who supplied Heinz with the produce vowed never to do business with him again. So grim were the circumstances that he didn't even have the money to purchase Christmas gifts for his children. Despite this, Heinz was determined that if he would ever become successful he would pay back all of his debts to the farmers who supplied his vegetables. After 5 years of grueling self sacrifice he was able to pay back all of his debts. Besides restoring the trust of his suppliers he was able to lay down the ethical foundation of his second company, F & J Heinz which became the maker of the world famous Ketchup that still bears his name. Many lesser men would have just relocated to begin somewhere else, but not Heinz. Heinz saw business as a way of improving the lives of everyone from the supplier, to the factory worker, to the carriage driver. Heinz held himself to the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you."
|Heinz advertisement during World War II. Photo Credit Heinz Company|
Heinz is an appropriate role model for today's age. He stands as a testament to the ingenuity and decency of the American spirit. In this age skeptical cynicism it is refreshing to see that someone can be successful and decent at the same time.
I almost forgot - Here's a little conversation piece for your next awkward family gathering:
Do you know how the "57" in the "Heinz 57" name came about? As Henry Heinz was traveling back from a sales pitch in Europe, he asked himself "I wonder how many products my company actually sells?" He counted 57 different items. Then he realized the number was higher, but since he thought the digits 5 & 7 looked good together - he stuck with that number and it was a stroke of advertising genius.