Dream warriorsWritten by Michael Drew Shaw | | email@example.com
One of our most talked-about features on Limelight America radio is “The Dream Warriors”, inspiring mini-biographies about America’s business pioneers. Here’s a few stories from a recent show.
Spaniard Don Bicardi landed in Cuba in 1830. He was fourteen when he went to work at a wine shop. For years, he spent his spare time in the back room experimenting with different rum-making techniques. When he was fifty years old he was ready to take a chance.
With $3000 that he’d saved over 36 years, he purchased a small distillery which was destined to become the world’s largest rum company. Finally on a roll, Don Bicardi’s fortunes soared when a part-time bartender added lime juice to Bicardi’s rum and began serving the new drink to customers in a tiny Cuban hamlet called, Daiquiri. The moral to this story is that it’s never too late to take a chance on a good idea.
It all started in 1952 in a small laboratory on the campus of Purdue University. A corn farmer, who taught agriculture on the side, had developed a hybrid yellow corn that popped open more widely and more efficiently, thus eliminating almost all of the “old maids” – as his grandfather called those un-popped seeds at the bottom of the bowl.
The new corn was considered too expense by the established popcorn companies who turned him down, so the Brazil, Indiana entrepreneur, unwilling to give up, started selling direct to retail grocers. By 1976 Orville Redenbacher’s gourmet corn was well on its way to becoming America’s best selling popcorn.
James Dole graduated from Harvard and moved to Hawaii in 1899, intending to make his fortune raising pineapples. The young Ivy Leaguer got nothing but patronizing smiles from island farmers who had been trying to export the tropical fruit for years, but it spoiled too quickly to withstand the journey to markets on the mainland.
Dole had an idea, but the farmers remained skeptical. Over the next three years, Dole and a small group of locals built a factory by hand. It was a cannery. Dole’s answer to the spoilage problem was shipping the fruit in cans rather than in its fresh form. Pineapple grew to be Hawaii’s second largest industry, second only to tourism.
Limelight America can be heard on Fox Sports Radio 1230 WCWA, Wednesday, Thursday; Friday 5-6 pm and online at www.limelightamerica.com.
E-mail Michael Drew Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org.