Born: Bridgeton, N.J.; raised in Atlantic City, N.J.
History: I purchased what was then the J&J Soft Pretzel Co. at a bankruptcy court in September 1971. I literally raised my hand and purchased the company for $72,000. I originally wanted to rename it ‘National Snack Foods,’ but then I realized the initials would have been NSF, which is a familiar abbreviation in business for ‘nonsufficient funds.’ I figured that wouldn’t be the image we’d want to project, so I just said I’d call it J&J Snack Foods with the idea that I’d change it later. Well, more than 36 years later, the name has stuck.
Ticker symbol: JJSF (NASDAQ)
What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?
Provide incentives for your people. I have provided incentives for my people, and that goes way, way back. I have provided incentives for my people since pretty much the first year I was in business. Our team of managers and I decided to make our people shareholders long before we were a public company, so we could share the success.
What traits or skills are essential for a business leader?
Fear of failure. If you have that real fear of failure, you’re not going to fail. Also, having an attitude, enthusiasm and energy, unbridled energy for success and being a cheerleader all of those things, in addition to leadership and dedication are important.
What is your definition of success?
Without consulting Webster’s (dictionary), it would be: To succeed, to win. Victory, not to fail.