Connect for Life

The Loan: A Birdseye Story

The Loan: A Birdseye Story

Stories sell! The better you are at telling stories, the more successful you will be in your career and in life. I use stories to inspire and motivate because I believe in my core that everyone can learn the Connect for Life methodologies. If one person turns over a new leaf because they heard one of my stories, then I have succeeded. I’d like to share a story of my grandfather’s journey in entrepreneurship. He was the introvert’s introvert, so I know a little bit about living with introverts who become entrepreneurs. Never let your personality type limit your success in life.


My father’s father, Harold J. Humphrey, graduated from Cornell University in 1917, and was a food chemist for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) until he went to work for Snider Packing Company in 1926. Soon thereafter, he was offered the chance to become the president of the National Canning Association. At the time, Snider was experimenting with a new frozen food process and, despite having eight manufacturing facilities around greater New York that were engaged in canning, Harold Humphrey felt he would be put in a compromising position to take the offer, so he declined. Snider’s expertise was canning tomatoes and peas and making catsup and chili sauce.


The migration to frozen foods happened slowly. In 1929, Birds Eye was purchased by Postum Company and Goldman Sachs for $22 million and the new company was named General Foods. One of Clarence Birdseye’s inventions was the Birdseye multiplate freezer, which Snider eventually licensed from General Foods. What General Foods soon learned was that the packaging process was difficult and important. Snider had created a better way of processing frozen vegetables so that they kept their taste and structure and by the early 1930’s, Snider was using the Birdseye technology at their plant in Albion, New York. My grandfather thought that it was a pretty good idea and if Snider continued production, eventually General Foods might acquire them. At least that was the thinking. 


My father recalls conversations around the breakfast table about “the loan.” In the first major investments of my grandfather’s life, he took everything their household could spare, plus all the money the bank would lend them, and they invested in stock for the Snider Packing Corporation. Like many entrepreneurial stories, history looks at the results of these decisions, not the difficult preliminary conversations around the breakfast table announcing to your family your plans to bet it all on an opportunity. It was not only a bold and gutsy decision, but also took perseverance to wait more than 10 years to see if it would work. It did work, and my grandfather is chronicled in history for playing a key role in the frozen food revolution. He retired in 1959 and became a consultant for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In 1962 he developed a global nutrition plan for children. To be a part of that food revolution was exhilarating, difficult, uncertain, and very rewarding for my grandfather. His was a life well-lived.


As you chase your dream, you will have to come face to face with your own shortcomings, fears, and demons. It will require you to overcome many things and make sacrifices along the way. Many entrepreneurs mortgage their homes, put all their life savings into their dream or raise money from banks and third parties. For most knowledge workers, the trip to the leadership of a company is more than just being competent at their skill. Whether an attorney, consultant, or other services provider, the road to success comes through developing net new business. Our program provides the foundation of connecting, networking, and selling so if you are on an entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial journey, Connect for Life is a roadmap for your success.

Blog Discussion With John

Leave a Reply