Mars, Incorporated - History

History

Mars was founded by Frank C. Mars and is a company that is known for the confectionery items that it creates, such as Milky Way, M&M's, Twix, Skittles, Snickers, and the Mars bar. They also produce non-confectionery snacks (including Combos) and other foods (including Uncle Ben's and pasta sauce brand Dolmio) as well as pet foods (such as Whiskas and Pedigree brands).

Orbit gum is among the most popular brands, managed by the Mars subsidiary brand Wrigley. During World War II, Wrigley was selling their eponymous gum only to soldiers, while Orbit was the gum made available to the public. Though abandoned shortly after the war, about 60 years later Orbit made a comeback in America during the gum craze.

Frank C. Mars, whose mother taught him to hand dip candy, sold candy by age 19. The Mars Candy Factory he started in 1911 with Ethel V. Mars, his second wife, in Tacoma, Washington, ultimately failed but it had already become a large employer, producing and selling fresh candy wholesale. By 1920, Frank Mars had returned to his home state, Minnesota, where the company was founded that year as Mar-O-Bar Co. in Minneapolis and later incorporated there as Mars, Incorporated. Forrest Mars, son of Frank Mars and his first wife who was also named Ethel, was inspired by a popular type of milkshake in 1923, to introduce the Milky Way bar, advertised as a "chocolate Malted Milk in a candy bar", and became the best-selling candy bar. In 1929, Frank moved the company to Chicago, Illinois and started full production in a plant which still exists today. In 1932, Forrest started Mars Limited in the United Kingdom, and launched the Mars bar.

Mars is still a family owned business, belonging to the Mars family. The company is famous for its secrecy. A 1993 Washington Post Magazine article was a rare raising of the veil, as the reporter was able to see the "M"s being applied to the M&M's, something that "no out-sider had ever before been invited to observe." In 1999, for example, the company did not acknowledge that Forrest Mars, Sr., had died or that he had worked for the company.

The company published its Principles in Action communication in September 2011. This communication outlines the history of Mars, its legacy as a business committed to its Five Principles and the company’s goal of putting its Principles into action to make a difference to people and the planet through performance. Encompassing themes of Health and Nutrition, Supply Chain, Operations, Products and Working at Mars, the Principles in Action communication outlines Mars Incorporated’s targets, progress, and ongoing challenges. It also describes its businesses – including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks and Symbioscience.

Mars, Incorporated has developed a reputation across its leading markets to be excellent training grounds for managers. In the United Kingdom for instance, many CEOs of large companies learned their trade at Mars, Inc., including former Mars executives Allan Leighton and Justin King, the former appointed CEO of the supermarket chain Asda and then the British postal service Royal Mail, with the latter presently the CEO of the retailer J Sainsbury plc. Recently, the company caught on to that and re-branded their employer brand to "Mars — The Ultimate Business School".

Moving into the fourth generation of family ownership, the company recently passed from family leadership into non-family leadership; however, the business is still owned by the family. The global CEO of Mars, Inc. is Paul Michaels. Michaels is part of a new group of non-family management that has taken over since the retirement of John and Forrest Mars, Jr.. The family now oversees the business as a council or board of directors.

In the United States the company has manufacturing facilities in Hackettstown, New Jersey; Albany, Georgia; Burr Ridge, Chicago and Mattoon, Illinois; Cleveland, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania; Greenville, Mississippi; Greenville and Waco, Texas; Henderson and Reno, Nevada; Vernon, California; Ft.Smith, Arkansas; Joplin, Missouri; Miami, Oklahoma; and Galena, Kansas. Their Canadian facilities are located in Bolton and Newmarket, Ontario.

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