CHEW ON THIS
The Wrigley Company
Wrigleys may be headquartered in the States but for the people of Kenya it’s their local factory where they get their gum.
William Wrigley Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1862, at the height of the Civil War. His father, William, Sr., was a soap manufacturer, and as a little boy, young William carried a basket through the streets of Philadelphia, selling Wrigley’s Scouring Soap. When he became a teenager, William took a full-time job as a soap salesman for his father. He had a talent for salesmanship, and he drove a horse and wagon from town to town, trying to convince stores to stock Wrigley’s soap. William Wrigley Jr. struck out on his own in the spring of 1891 when he was 29 years old. He left Philadelphia for Chicago with just $32 in his pocket and a dream of running his own business. He also had boundless energy and a gift for seeing things from his customers’ point of view. At the start of his new business in Chicago, William sold his father’s Scouring Soap. As an extra incentive to merchants to stock the soap on their shelves, he offered “premiums” - free gifts, such as cans of baking powder. Trouble was, baking powder turned out to be more popular than soap! Rather than give up, William switched to the baking powder business. One day in 1892, William got the idea of offering two free packages of chewing gum with each can of baking powder. The offer was a big success. Once again the premium - chewing gum - seemed to be more popular than the product it was designed to promote. A year later, in 1893, William Wrigley Jr. introduced a new gum he called Juicy Fruit. And so began the world’s most popular and successful chewing gum business!
The company currently sells its products in more than 180 countries and maintains 14 factories in various countries, including the United States, Mexico, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, New Zealand, the Philippines, France, Taiwan, China, India, Poland, Russia and Kenya. Kenya is where we’re focussing on with Wrigley’s East Africa and they have a motto “Create simple pleasures to brighten everyone’s day” and as they form part of the Mars Corporation they have the strength and the focus to achieve this with spectacular results. Kenya manufacture Wrigley’s gum exclusively for the majority of Africa. There is a Wrigley’s SA but they do not have a production facility, while in Kenya they have been making gum for 30 years. The plant was commissioned and constructed by the Mars Corporation for this fundamental purpose and they report to the Middle East within the Mars Group. Employee training As part of the Mars Corporation, they leverage a lot of their training strategies and employee development plans from them. There is a mandate that all employees in the company are given the best opportunities for training, career development and personal growth. This focus, instead of being filtered through the staff
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The Wrigley Company
to the clients is instead enhanced and, in every way, this is responsible for establishing the quality of all the Wrigley products. Sourcing their pool of employees from local areas and training them up in house is important to boost the Kenyan economy and to increase the pool of trained, skilled labour available for other industries based in East Africa. Quality The product offering of Wrigley’s is famous and irrevocably linked to a certain taste and texture which we have all come to expect. In turn, the taste and textile of the chewing gum rely entirely on the quality of the raw materials sourced. To keep this at the highest possible standard Wrigley’s EA are guided by and committed to the Mars way of production in terms of sourcing. Suppliers need the best credentials and have to be quality accredited to reach the standards set by Mars. “In June 1974, a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio installed the first bar code scanning equipment. The first product to be scanned using a UPC bar code was a 10 pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum. This pack of gum is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.” In some countries, xylitol is used to sweeten gum, instead of aspartame. By avoiding sugar, the chance of tooth decay is lowered, since the sugar otherwise used may turn into acid after chewing the gum. A further health benefit is that in chewing gum it may help to remove food residues. Xylitol based products are allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make the medical claim that they do not promote dental cavities.
Primarily exporters, Wrigley’s EA is dependent on the economy just the same as any other manufacturer and exporter. With exporters though, when one country’s economy slumps, another one’s ramps up, and through diversification and industry awareness they are able to play the numbers sufficiently. Currently, the global recession, which was causing Europe and Britain grief two years ago, has finally found its way through to Africa, but by concentrating on the day-to-day push of the business they’re sure to rise out at the top. Relationship building In building relationships it is doubly important not to let people down at the last moment, and management of the expectations of clients, suppliers and service providers - all of which run on deadlines - needs to be diligently looked after. When a deadline is set it must be met or else this can have a knock-on effect that can damage reputations. Wrigley’s manages this with a remarkable conviction understanding that in any business time is certainly money. While people go to the store for milk and bread they don’t necessarily go to the store to pick up chewing gum. Chewing gum is a fun product and it is promoted by being an impulse purchase at the end of the shopping trip. Wrigley’s spend millions on ensuring that the product, from placement, marketing and packaging is as powerful and undeniable as possible. In conclusion, Wrigley’s is the world’s most popular and successful chewing gum business for good reason. They are moving through the decades getting stronger and stronger and with their stratergies for continual grow I see no reason that this will ever change.
The Wrigley Company www.wrigley.com +254 20 395 2000 by Don Campbell