When disaster strikes, it takes real courage to turn calamity into opportunity. With Pretzels, Inc., disaster has struck twice in its history.
First, fire destroyed half of the company’s flagship Bluffton, Ind., plant in 1997. Fortunately, it didn’t damage the offices or the ovens, allowing the business — founded by Bill Mann and Bill Huggins in 1979 — to survive and thrive. Then in June 2016, an oven fire burned down its Canonsburg, Pa., plant that produces peanut butter-filled pretzels. Fortunately, no one was hurt in either fire. In both cases, the family-owned business did what good companies do. It took care of its people.
“It’s the philosophy that our owners have,” explained William “Chip” Mann II, who, along with Steve Huggins, serves as co-c.e.o. and worked with their dads in the business for nearly three decades. “People rank first, and they are what make our company work. We value our customers, but it’s our employees that have made our company so successful over the years.”
After the Canonsburg fire, Pretzels, Inc., paid about 35 employees for 90 days and even hired an outplacement service to help retrain those who wanted new jobs, said Steve Huggins, in a report in SNAC World magazine.Additionally, Pretzels, Inc., focused on getting back to business in a hurry. In 1997, it took Pretzels, Inc., six months to repair its Bluffton facility and rebound. Nine months after the 2016 fire, the company started over with a new 45,000-square-foot operation in Plymouth, Ind., where about 60-plus employees currently work on a state-of-the-art production line. When it comes to surviving disasters, it requires not only perseverance, but character as well.