"In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty."
— Proverbs 14:23 (NASB)
"At age six, young Henry started helping his mother tend a small garden behind the family home. At age eight Henry was canvassing the neighborhood with a basket under each arm selling vegetables from the family garden door to door. By age nine he was growing, grinding, bottling and selling his own brand of horseradish sauce. At ten he was given a 3/4-acre garden of his own and had graduated to a wheelbarrow to deliver his vegetables. At twelve he was working 3 1/2 acres of garden using a horse and cart for his three-times-a-week deliveries to grocery stores in Pittsburgh."3
Despite his "green thumb," Henry J. Heinz's immigrant parents, John and Anna, wished for him to become a minister. At 14, they "plucked" the young upstart from the vegetable garden and enrolled him in the Allegheny Seminary. But, like a plant winding its way, he went against their dreams and dropped out. Later, he took bookkeeping classes at Duff's Business College in Pittsburgh, Pa., but his knack for gardening proved a lifelong skill and he continued growing and selling vegetables.
His most popular item was horseradish, a common spice for that day but was arduous to prepare. Using a recipe from his mother, Heinz cleaned the root, grated it, put it in bottles and sold it to housewives.
To win his buyers' trust, he put his produce in see-through bottles. This was in the days before strict Food and Drug Administration packaging laws, when vendors frequently sold items in dark bottles so they could hide cheap fillers. Heinz, however, was committed to biblical honesty and sold only what was on his label. The transparency worked, and consumers readily bought his brand of home-grown honesty, making Heinz a household name synonymous with purity and quality. Heinz soon added sauerkraut, pickles and other "green" items to the lineup. Before long, he was offering more than 60 garden-good products.
Non-bashful with dirt and a trowel, he was equally non-bashful telling people about his crops. He painted his iconic Heinz’s pickle boldly on horseless carriages, sides of buildings, landscapes, and wherever he could.
One day while on the train, he saw an advertisement for 21 kinds of shoes. Fascinated with the concept (this was before multiple listings such as "31 Flavors" were commonplace), Heinz combined his wife's and his favorite numbers, "5" and "7," for the trademark "57." Light years ahead of branding campaigns, Heinz 57 is considered a catchy slogan of slogans, still studied by marketing gurus today.
Over time Heinz's business grew prosperous. Yet he taught thrift, believing in no waste of any kind whether it was material, time, or opportunity. And he couldn't bear the thought of ill-gotten gain. He believed profit should be fairly earned. Even in today's modern world, the Heinz Company website bears the words of its founder: "Deal with the seller justly..."
But it wasn't just buyers and sellers with whom he was concerned; Heinz was also good to his workers. Many factory owners of this era were harsh and commonly offered hazardous, unsanitary conditions to their underpaid workers. Heinz's food production plants, by contrast, provided workers with paternalistic gardens of paradise. They were so clean and so well regulated that he invited the public to tour them. Additionally, he guaranteed respect to all his employees, mandating just treatment and operating his company by the Golden Rule. It has been said, "No employee felt ‘under' him."
In a time when there was very little government regulation, "Heinz furnished employee benefits, pensions, health-care packages, social services, and 'sociological department[s]'1 where he pioneered what would today be considered HR departments. He even promoted women employees up to supervisory roles, arranged for immigrant citizenship tests, provided cooking and sewing classes, hired company doctors and dentists, provided carriage rides, sponsored free concerts and athletic facilities including a swimming pool, and created rooftop gardens for employee relaxation. Because his staff worked primarily with their hands, he kindly hired an on-site manicurist."2
Worker-employee respect stemmed from this garden of benevolence. Before his death, his workers collectively paid for and presented him with a statue in his likeness.
Devoted, Religious Man
Heinz is historically known for his work building up his church's youth work to a national level. Throughout his life, he remained a devout tithe-payer on all his income and a deeply religious man.2
Today the Heinz Company is a $10 billion global company enjoying one and two market-value shares in more than 50 countries, selling 650 million bottles of the trademark Heinz 57 Ketchup yearly, Heinz beans, and many other products, and employing approximately 32,500 people around the world.4 While it is no longer family-run, the Heinz Company still proudly displays these words: "[We] continue to follow the advice of [our] founder: 'To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.'"4, 5
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1 Quentin R. Skrabec. H.J. Heinz: A Biography, McFarland & Company, Inc., North Carolina.
2 ^ a, b, Macken, Shannon. Henry John Heinz. The Pennsylvania Center for the Book. 2006. Web. 30 May 2011.
3 ^ a, b, "Henry J. Heinz." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 May 2011.
4 ^a, b, Discover the World of Heinz. Web. 30 May 2011.
5 "Do A Common Thing Uncommonly Well - HJ Heinz | Modeling the Masters." Famous Entrepreneurs, Small Business, Young, Successful, Women, Toronto Resources. Web. 30 May 2011.