Gerry Shreiber, president, CEO, and founder of J&J Snack Foods, a food and beverage manufacturing and marketing company in Pennsauken, N.J., will deliver the keynote address at Williamson College of the Trades’ Commencement at 2 p.m., Friday, June 3, on the school’s grounds. At the ceremony, the Class of 1W6 will receive associate in specialized technology degrees or craftsman diplomas.
J&J Snack Foods is known for such products as Super Pretzel, Icee, and Luigi’s Italian Ice and Shreiber’s business success is a true rags to riches story. He came from little means and no college education and became successful through hard work.
At a young age, Shreiber began working with his father, who was a produce merchant. At 18, he became a machine shop apprentice at Kulicke & Soffa.
By his mid 20s he had saved up enough money to run 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, New Jersey, in 1971. He began J&J Snack Foods with eight employees and some 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, but he realized 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, the company bakes 2 million pretzels a day, has 3,000 employees, boasts $1 billion in annual sales, has made Forbes magazine’s list of the 200 Best Small Companies seven times, and has been profitable every year of its existence.
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.