Gerry Shreiber shared his story of how he bought a small company and developed it into a $1 billion a year company, with students, faculty, and staff during a recent Assembly in the chapel.
Shreiber, president, CEO, and founder of J & J Snack Foods, a food and beverage manufacturing and marketing company based in Pennsauken, NJ, said he developed his company through hard work, believing in himself, and having a great staff. He said it is not always easy being successful in business and that it is “important to keep the spirit of a David fighting Goliath all the time, even after you become successful.”
He began working as a machinist intern for Kulicke & Soffa, then ran his own machine shop with several partners, and later started a business making specialty machine parts. He sold the company and used this money to buy a bankrupt soft pretzel company for $72,000 in Pennsauken, NJ, in 1971. He began J&J Snack Foods with eight employees and some very old baking equipment.
He had no experience in the food business and went by his instincts, which have served him well all this time. At that time, soft pretzels were not as popular as they are now. He realized that soft pretzels were the up and coming snack and set out to convince stadiums, movie theaters, and other vendors that soft pretzels would be the next big thing.
He built his company through a series of small acquisitions and today, J&J Snack Foods bakes 2 million pretzels a day, has 3,000 employees, and can boast $1 billion in annual sales.
J&J has made Forbes magazines list of the 200 Best Small Companies seven times and has been profitable every year of its existence, something not very many businesses can say.
Gerry Shreiber never forgot the help he received when working at Kulicke & Soffa all those years ago and has done many charitable acts to help young people get an education. He also has a soft spot in his heart for animals and has generously supported many organizations that help animals. He has many of his own animals on his 113-acre farm in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, including horses, goats, dogs, cats, a pig, and a rabbit.