Smucker's Executive Richard Smucker Delivers CEO100 Lecture

Feb 6, 2018

by Southern News
Richard Smucker, executive chairman of the J.M. Smucker Company, one of America’s most familiar and respected brands, delivered the annual CEO 100 Lecture hosted by the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise at Florida Southern College in February. The event was attended by a large gathering of students, faculty, and community leaders.

Mr. Smucker spoke about the history of the company, which was begun by his great-grandfather, a Mennonite farmer, 120 years ago. He said the company has maintained a positive culture through the years that includes thanking employees for a job well done, looking for the good in others, and having a sense of humor. Smucker said the company has succeeded in part because it has maintained awareness and focus on its mission.
“It all gets down to the Golden Rule and common sense,” he said. “Our purpose is helping to bring families together to share memorable meals and moments. It’s our way of making the world a better place.”

Mr. Smucker began his career at J.M. Smucker in 1972, and is the fourth generation of his family to lead the company. He has served in a variety of roles, including co-chief executive officer from 1998 to 2011, and chief executive officer from 2011 to 2016.

Mr. Smucker described the company’s strategy of targeted mergers and acquisitions over the past 15 years that propelled Smucker’s from a $600 million company in 2002 to an $8 billion company in 2017. The company now has more than 100 brands in consumer foods, pet foods, and coffee. The Smucker’s brand accounts for about 15 percent of the company’s revenue, with Folger’s Coffee accounting for almost a third of corporate revenue, he said.

Dr. James W. Fenton, Jr., dean of the Barnett School, said it is rare to see a company that has maintained such a coherent family management structure and philosophy.

“I thought it was interesting that they have had success in developing and executing a long-run strategy that has an emphasis on customers, products, and employees, rather than a short-run focus on stockholder return,” he said.

Mr. Smucker was invited to deliver the lecture by Dr. Ed Crenshaw, Chairman of the Board of Publix Super Markets, Inc., a longtime friend of Mr. Smucker’s and a member of the FSC Board of Trustees. Mr. Smucker complimented Publix as a company that is “built on the same values” as his own was.

Prior to his lecture, Mr. Smucker met with students of the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise, and at the beginning of his address, he commented on the encounter.
“I was most impressed with the students. They’re bright and talented, and asked penetrating questions,” he said.

At the conclusion of the CEO 100 program, Mr. Smucker was presented with an honorary doctor of business degree from the College. In the proclamation accompanying the presentation, President Anne Kerr commended Mr. Smucker for maintaining his company’s success and its wholesome image, calling him “an exemplar of professional ethics.”