In early 2015, just as the company was celebrating its 25th anniversary, CEO Jerry Johnson decided it was time to step down. He had always planned to stay at the company he co-founded for his retirement, but now that time was here, he wanted to pass the torch to someone who could take it forward.
He made sure to name an internal leadership team that would carry on his legacy at the company he helped build and grow into one of the top five cereal companies in America.
But what happened next is something many people have never heard about before — how famous Amos lost his job.
It seems that some members of his management team secretly purchased all the stock available from him and then proceeded to start their own business using the money they stole.
Not only did this happen right after he announced his retirement, it also took place while he was still serving as president of the company.
If you read between the lines, it becomes clear that these individuals were not loyal to Johnson, nor did they respect his vision and leadership skills. They simply didn’t like him and wanted to do everything in their power to sabotage his efforts.
This article will explore the shocking truth about why famous Amos lost his job at the company he built. It will include details most people don’t know, such as how he spent years creating close relationships with wealthy investors only to be stabbed in the back by them.
In 2008, famous brands are not! Companies that manufacture food products and toys that have well-known brand names are few and far between. This is especially true of how many companies manage to stay in business for very long by offering affordable quality goods. For this reason, it has become increasingly difficult for small businesses to survive.
In fact, according to Forbes, there’s only one way left for a new business to succeed in America — by importing products made abroad.
This isn’t always easy, however. You can’t just decide to start making imports because you feel bad for all of those big name corporations who got shut out of the market.
And it won’t matter much if you do make imports because most countries’ trade laws require them to be more stringent with their protectionism than ours is. (Something we learned about back when we talked about why Japan gets so mad at us.)
So what happens when your little business starts getting lots of international attention? More people want your product, which means higher sales, but also more competition. And even though you're a smaller company, competing against companies with larger marketing budgets can be too much for yours to handle.
That's where things get tricky.
In early 2010, just as the economy was starting to perk up, famous-brand chocolate maker Famous Brands, LLC closed down its doors for good. This came as no surprise since the company had been laying off employees and running advertisements telling people about the company’s poor financial health for months now.
As reported by Business Insider, in February 2009, CEO William Bassett made the difficult decision to close down all production at the Chocodile factory outside of Chicago. He cited declining demand due to changing tastes and market conditions as well as expensive raw materials as reasons why.
After the closure, some of the former Chocodiles workers were offered jobs at another product line within Famous Brands or given opportunities at other companies with which the firm did business. Unfortunately though, many never received any reply from employers after sending their resume.
Given that there are over 2 million hungry Americans every day, it is important to have adequate food supplies. Luckily, the federal government has programs to help ensure this happens.
In May of 2014, famous-amos.com was purchased by an entrepreneur named Michael Jones. He rebranded it as “JustBakedCake” and announced that he would be offering his services for free to anyone who wanted them!
He also made some changes to the website and how people could contact him.
Jones quickly gained popularity and had over 1 million followers on his baking channel before he even started paying for his site’s services!
But things took a turn in October 2017 when Jones decided to launch his own line of baked goods under his own name.
He still offers his service for free, but only if you are able to source your ingredients from sources he approves of. Many people feel like this is an unnecessary cost because you can easily find what you need at most grocery stores or online shopping sites.
Some believe that this decision on his part has hurt his business long term.
As we mentioned before, his sons took over the business in 1997 when he retired at age 65. Since then, they have run it as an entrepreneur-run business.
They made many well known brands that are still sold to this day. Some of these include Fig Newtons, Life Cereal, Mini Pretzels, and Chocolate Chip Cookies.
These companies were all started by his children, or people they hired to help them start their businesses.
He even left the business to his son Tony so he could focus more time on his other ventures! He was successful enough, however, that he was able to buy back the rights to his company and rebrand it himself.
This new version no longer uses recipes or tips written and handed down from him and his father, but instead features creations done by his kids.
In early 2010, just as the market for chocolate chip cookies was heating up, CEO Joshua Graham announced that his company would no longer make its own cookies. Rather than buying already made cookie dough from a source, people could choose to start their own batch by purchasing a box of baked goods with recipes in them!
This new business model seemed like a good idea at first. People who wanted easy, bake-at-home snacks could now do so without having to find a source for the raw ingredients or learn how to mix baking supplies properly.
But soon enough, not only did people begin complaining about the expensive cost of the premade batter packages, many also noticed that the packaged cookies no longer fit into their shelf life correctly. Some even said that the packaging was flimsy and likely to break down quickly, allowing moisture to seep in and potentially harming the quality of the product.
Many people lost trust in the company after these experiences, which hurt sales significantly.
Franchisees were able to pick up where Graham left off, but it took several years before most stores received enough capitalization to launch their own version of Chocolate Chip Cookies.
In 1998, when his son was in middle school, business guru Andy Jackson decided to start his own chocolate chip cookie brand. He picked an already popular recipe and transformed it into his signature style – cream cheese chips with white chocolate chunks as the topping.
He then took one step forward by opening up a bakery dedicated entirely to making and selling only these cookies. This gave him more time to focus on marketing and spreading the word about his product.
His next move was to take advantage of the rising popularity of dark chocolate. By adding cocoa powder to some of the milk used to make the dough, he was able to create darker, richer looking cookies.
This new version of his famous cookie received lots of praise from hungry bakers and customers.
In early 2009, just as the economy was starting to rebound, entrepreneur Andy Storey got some bad news. He found out that his favorite cookie brand — famousamosbrand.com — had been purchased and rebranded by the parent company of Nabisco!
The reason? The price.
As he explained it to Business Insider in an article last year, the cost of producing one box of cookies made up half the price tag. It was therefore cheaper for the owner to produce their own version than to buy a pack from the manufacturer.
That’s why most people have tasted the much loved chocolate chip cookie variety manufactured by M&M’S or Oreo before they ever knew the name “famous amosa”.
But what many don’t know is that not only did this happen several times throughout the company’s history, but each time it happened, the person leaving the company ended up creating something very successful themselves.
In 1998, just before his 30th birthday, founder Andy King bought out the remaining shares of the business he founded with his brother Adam. At that time there were only five employees at the company, including himself.
Since then, the company has grown to over 200 people across three different facilities. And while they’ve come close to shutting down more than once, today it is one of the largest privately held companies in America.
King never pressured his staff into working for him after buying out the company. He let them choose whether or not to stay, which allowed for an environment where teamwork was valued.
He also made sure everyone knew their job and gave them enough responsibility so they felt like they could succeed without direct supervision.
This created a culture where workers feel comfortable going beyond what is asked of them because they know someone will take care of them and help them grow professionally.