Saturday Spotlight: Shining Light Company – McCormick & Co.

This week’s Shining Light Company is a familiar sight in the spice aisle of supermarkets around the world and will likely be an ingredient in your family Christmas celebration. McCormick & Company (Ticker:MKC) is not only a leader in their industry but a shining example of Servant Leadership in corporate America. Founded in Baltimore, MD in 1889 with a cellar serving as “headquarters,” Willoughby M. McCormick and his three young workers sold their flavors and extracts door to door. Seven years later, he purchased the F.G. Spice Company of Philadelphia and entered the spice industry. 125 years later, through several acquisitions and joint ventures, McCormick is now a Fortune 1000 company with 10,000 employees worldwide and their products sold in over 100 countries. In addition to the McCormick name itself, familiar brands in North America include Lawry’s®, Old Bay®, Simply Asia®, Thai Kitchen®, and Zatarain’s®.

While there are many ways that McCormick & Company gives back to the community and seeks to be good stewards of the environment, what primarily drew our attention to this Shining Light Company is their heritage of taking care of their employees and including them in the management of the company. In 1904, the Great Baltimore Fire destroyed all of the young company’s material assets and records. Willoughby wrote a letter to his mother in Virginia detailing the devastation and his job possibilities in New York City, but his commitment to his employees inspired him to rebuild and the new building was up and running within 10 months. In 1932, Charles “CP” McCormick took over the company after his uncle Willoughby died at the age of 69. That same year, he called the first meeting of his new Junior Board, which later became the “Multiple Management Boards,” an innovative concept to address specific business components like sales and manufacturing. These interdisciplinary boards were, and still are, composed of team members from many levels and various departments within the company. Management wanted to seek ideas from a wide range of employees because of, as one executive commented, “our belief in the untapped potential of people.” During the first five years, the boards made over 2,100 suggestions to the corporate Board of Directors with only six being rejected. This revolutionary philosophy later became the basis for the “open door” leadership style embraced by many companies today.

This commitment to their employees was also seen in 1933 in the middle of the Great Depression when wages were raised, hours were cut, and profit sharing began. CP McCormick started the tradition of giving out turkeys on Thanksgiving and changed the name of the Human Resources department to Human Relations.  Fast forward to today and it is no wonder that McCormick has been named as one of Baltimore’s Best Places to Work in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

The second aspect that is worthy of recognition is McCormick’s commitment to quality and innovation. One of their Five Pillars of Success is “Taste You Trust.” This not only involves the quality and consistency of their flavors, but also their influence as leaders in global sourcing to set world-class standards for local growing practices for the spices, herbs, and other crops that make up their products. This historic dedication to purity can be traced all the way back to 1910 when Willoughby McCormick helped found the Flavor Extract Manufacturers Association. Another of those Pillars is “Inspiring Healthy Choices.” They are always searching for new ways to give people healthy eating choices and do so through funding research on the potential health benefits of herbs and spices, and also by developing reduced-sodium and gluten-free products.

As you can see, McCormick & Company truly has not only what they call a “Passion for Flavor” but a passion for people and doing business according to the Golden Rule. You can learn more about their history and values here: For that we are honored to name them our Christmas week Shining Light Company!



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.