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Buckeye Built: The JM Smucker Company jams out in Orrville for 122 years straight

Posted: 12:18 PM, Oct 25, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-28 10:44:04-04
Buckeye Built Smucker's

ORRVILLE, Ohio — From Cleveland to Columbus and Toledo to Cincinnati, Ohio is packed with companies who call the Buckeye State home.

As part of the News 5 Cleveland Buckeye Built series, reporter Meg Shaw went behind the scenes of a business who's been based in Northeast Ohio for 122 years: The JM Smucker's Company.

History

The JM Smucker Company was founded in 1897 by Jerome Smucker in Orrville, Ohio. Smucker began selling homemade cider and apple butter out of a horse-drawn carriage.

Buckeye Built: The JM Smucker's Company

By 1921, JM Smucker Company was incorporated and two years later it began to produce additional jams and jellies besides apple butter.

Fast forward to 1935. Smucker's products were in high demand across the Midwest.

By the time the 1960s rolled around, the company was public.

In 2004, Fortune magazine added Smucker's to its list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, calling it one of the fastest growing companies.

Throughout the years, the company made many acquisitions and partnerships adding products and brands to their portfolio.

Orrville Headquarters

Since the company's inception, Smucker's has been based in Orrville. The small community is located about 50 miles south of Cleveland.

"We're really proud of our corporate campus"

In 2011, the company moved into its new headquarters within the town. At the time, they employed about 1,500 people. But the company continued to grow with new acquisitions and partnerships. That led to another expansion in 2013.

During that year, more offices were added to the campus, located on Strawberry Lane, plus a fitness center and daycare center for employees. "We're really proud of our corporate campus," Jill Penrorse, senior vice president of human resources and corporate communications, said.

Penrose said when they expanded they wanted to create a warm and welcoming environment for their employees.

So they decided to add a fitness center, equipped with a walking track basketball court, studios for spinning and yoga classes, plus an on-campus childcare facility.

Meg tours the Smucker's campus in Orrville

"Allows our many of our employees to travel to and from work with their children," Penrose said. "They visit them over lunch with our ways we try to integrate children into the campus. If you go to our orchard cafeteria lunch, you'll often hear kids laughing, and people."

All in the Family

The J.M. Smucker's Company has always been family led.

"The family sets a huge part of our culture"

From the founder, Jerome Monroe Smucker, to today's CEO Mark Smucker.

“Having a family member in the Smucker leaders are integral to who we are as a company, and who we've always been. They set the tone," Penrose said. "Their authenticity, their humility, their genuineness is real and it's very much who we are as a company. So the history that they have and what they bring to the organization is at the heart of who we are as a company."

Mark Smucker is the company's fifth-generation CEO. He took over in 2016 for his uncle, Richard Smucker.

Mark is the great-grandson of Jerome Smucker.

"The family sets a huge part of our culture," Penrose said.

Culture

Penrose said culture and values are very important to the company.

"Since the beginning, we have had a set of values which we refer to as our basic beliefs around quality people, ethics, growth and independence. And while we have grown and become a huge organization with a diversified portfolio, those values are the things throughout our history that we try to hold on to today," she said.

That's why they've tried to focus on their employees as a whole.

Just last month the company doubled down on their focus by upping employee benefits for the some 7,000 people who work for them nationwide.

Starting January 1, 2020:

  • New parents can take up to 12 fully-paid weeks away from work following birth, adoption or foster placement.
  • Vacation will increase from two to three weeks for employees with less than five years of tenure.
  • Pet bereavement leave introduced for the loss of a pet.

"We preserve the things that are really important to us. But we remain flexible and open minded to meet those changing needs," Penrose said.

Remaining Relevant

For 122 years, the JM Sumcker's Company has had to work to remain relevant to consumers. As the years go by, this task has become a bit more diffucult for the Fortune 500 company.

"There's lots of brands and lots of products. So our greatest challenge is to make sure we're really in touch with not only the what the consumer wants, but anticipating their needs before they've maybe even articulated what they are," Penrose said.

The company's senior vice president of corporate strategy, Amy Held, said today's consumer is much different than in year's past.

“I do think that consumers today are really looking for a level of authenticity, and a company that they can trust the company behind the product, the company behind the brands," Held said.

Held said advancements in technology have made consumers more educated and informed.

"So making sure that we're one step ahead with data and insights and analytics, that helps us predict and understand what's really on the hearts and souls of our consumers. Today, it is a challenge. But that's why that's why we come into work every day," she said.

For more information about Smucker's products and the company, click here .

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