Saturday Spotlight: Shining Light Company – J.M. Smucker

Our Shining Light Company this month features a company that is very familiar to most Americans.  For more than a century, Smucker’s (NYSE: SJM) has been helping to make family meals more memorable. It all started in 1897 when Jerome Monroe Smucker pressed cider from the fruit of trees that had been planted by Johnny Appleseed in the early nineteenth century. Later, he prepared apple butter and sold it from the back of a horse-drawn wagon. Each crock bore a hand-signed seal as his personal guarantee of quality.  The J. M. Smucker Company has been headquartered in Orrville, Ohio, since its founding.  They were incorporated in 1921 and today have $8 billion in yearly sales and more than 7,000 employees. Through a series of acquisitions, the company’s brands have grown to today include: Folgers, Jif, Dunkin’ Donuts, Crisco, Pillsbury, R.W. Knudsen Family, Hungry Jack, Café Bustelo, Martha White, truRoots, Sahale Snacks, Robin Hood, and Bick’s.  Smuckers entered the pet food business in 2015 with acquisitions of the Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, Kibbles ‘n Bits, Natural Balance, and 9Lives brands. 

In the early 1980s, as Smucker’s was growing, the late Paul Smucker, former Chairman, wrote that the company needed to ensure that they retain their most deeply cherished goals of mutual respect of employees and an atmosphere that makes people proud to work there by encouraging everyone to put the following things into their everyday life:  Recognition for a job well done, listening with your full attention, looking for the good in others, and a sense of humor.  He believed that by keeping these few thoughts in mind every day, a bridge of understanding will be created that will nourish the working atmosphere and mutual respect for each other.  It’s no surprise that since 1998, the company has appeared on FORTUNE Magazine’s annual listing of the “100 Best Companies to Work For in the United States.”

Mark Smucker was recently named the CEO of Smucker. Like most members of his family, he started working at the company’s main Orrville plant when he was 16. He also had to, per the family’s self-imposed rules, try something else first, and get a master’s degree.  Mark attributes his and the company’s continued success to the great team of experienced employees who are “second to none.” They will help him continue to build, he said.  “The company was built by thousands of families. Not one family. … We’re stewards of the company. Job one will likely be for the company to stick to its knitting — keeping its values of “the golden rule and common sense.”

The company has a strong commitment to preserve their culture where all employees feel they make a difference.  Success is defined by more than financial performance.  Smuckers believes that how they do things is as important as what they do.Their “purpose” and why they do business is summed up by their conviction that being together with the ones we love is vital to a healthy, happy fulfilling life.  Nurturing bonds through memorable meals and shared moments brings people and their pets closer together. The stronger families are today, the stronger society will be tomorrow.  In their own words, “Life tastes better together.” By focusing their business around this belief of the power of family togetherness and convenient, delicious, and good for you products, they help support the Mealtime Movement and all its benefits.  Enjoying conversations over food helps form connections, one bite at a time.

The same strong ethical values on which Smucker’s was founded provide the standards by which they conduct their business and themselves. These values include honesty, respect, trust, responsibility, and fairness.  They accept nothing less, regardless of the circumstances. Therefore, maintaining the highest standard of ethics with their consumers, customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and shareholders. J.MSmucker is committed to providing an environment of open, honest communications. Ethical conduct is vital to ensure successful, sustained business relationships. The Company maintains a Voice Line to provide consumers, employees, business partners, suppliers, communities, customers and shareholders the ability to have their voice heard when they have an ethical concern.

Respect for the environment and a strong commitment to actively supporting the communities they serve have been defining attributes of the Company for nearly 120 years.  Smucker’s invests in sustainable agriculture projects, not only to help them maintain a reliable supply of raw ingredients, but also to support the farmers who produce them and the environment in which they are grown.  Their 2020 sustainability targets include diverting 95% of waste from landfill to alternative use, reducing water usage by 15% and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10%.

For this company, the values that are taught in the Bible guide their daily business decisions and conduct. They believe your personal ethics determine your business ethics. And ethics plays a very key role at Smucker. It’s one of their basic beliefs. These Basic Beliefs regarding Quality, People, Ethics, Growth, and Independence have served as a strong foundation throughout their history.  The J.M. Smucker Company was formed by a dedicated, honest, forward-looking businessman who made a quality product, sold it at a fair price, and followed sound policies, and because of this the Company has prospered. There are endless reasons why we have named J.M Smucker our Shining Light Company, but simply put, this is a company doing the right things and doing things right!



DISCLOSURE: Shining Light Companies are exemplary companies who live out the Golden Rule in their business practices, demonstrate strong servant leadership and create compelling value through the products and services they offer. This is intended for general information purposes concerning only the values, corporate culture and business practices of the companies being spotlighted. It DOES NOT incorporate any analysis of the companies’ investment merit based on intrinsic value, fundamental analysis, etc. This must not be construed as investment advice or a buy/sell recommendation. These companies may or may not be included in our LightPoint Portfolios at any given time.