Honoring positive influencesWritten by Michael Drew Shaw | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Can you name the five wealthiest people in the world? Or the last three Heisman trophy winners? Or two Nobel Prize winners? Even though they’re the best in their fields, few of us remember the headliners of yesterday.
Now, name a teacher who had a positive influence when you were in school, or a friend who helped you through a difficult time. An important part of an entrepreneur’s spirit is a willingness to help others, even in small ways that, at the time don’t seem like much.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Anita Roddick, the founder of a global cosmetics business called The Body Shop, Limited. “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.”
And speaking of small things, almost a hundred years ago an Ohio family business was started that made candy for dummies. Actually, they made lollipops called, well you know…
The Spangler Candy Company now identifies itself as The Dum Dums Company, the nation’s second largest candy cane, lollipop and circus peanut manufacturer, and the 18th largest confectionery manufacturer in the U.S. With an accounting and finance background, the company’s CEO developed strategic review and evaluation programs that kept the family business on the grow. As they say, good things often come in small packages.
So what do small packages have to do with farm animals? Nothing. I’m just looking for a transition into this next true story about an entrepreneur named Beaver who made it big with pigs and bunnies, but I can’t think of one. I’m seeing 85 and partly cloudy out my window and I just can’t seem to concentrate today. The Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran keeps running through my head. Perhaps I need something cold.
Anyway, in 1984, Donald Beaver filled his wife’s panty hose with cat litter. Really. This is true. The snake-like device was wrapped around a leaky factory machine to act as a diaper. Mr. Beaver named it the “Pig” absorbent sock. From that prototype came the New Pig line of environmental spill cleanup products.
Mr. Beaver won Business Week’s best new industrial product of the year award for another cleaning device, an electrostatic dust cloth called the Dust Bunny. Like Casey Stengel used to say, if you don’t believe me, you can look it up!
One of the things I like best about summer is cooking up my family-famous “Uncle Mike’s Baked Beans”. One of my ingredients is just the right amount of tomato soup which I also use in my autumn recipe for “Uncle Mike’s Sloppy Joes”. I actually tried to start a frozen sloppy joe food company once and … well, that’s another story for another time.
I use canned tomato soup. Cans have been around for a long time. Now made of lightweight aluminum, the original tin can was born around 200 years ago, exactly when nobody seems to know for sure.
In 1869, a Philadelphia produce agent who was convinced there was a bright future for canned foods bought into a Camden cannery and started packing little tins with mincemeat. By 1898 the entrepreneur from Philly had bought out his partner, developed a new product line and introduced the now familiar red and white label inspired by Cornell’s football uniforms.
He believed it then and they’re still saying it today, Joseph “Campbell’s soup is good food.”
By the way, knowing just how much tomato soup to use is my trade secret. I’m willing to sell for the right price.
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E-mail Michael Drew Shaw at email@example.com.