I’m accustomed to crying when I read a book, but it’s usually fiction that elicits that kind of response. This book, written by an associate professor of Marketing and a journalist for the Lowell Sun, is about business. Not exactly tug-at-your-heartstrings material, but cry, I did. The story resonated with me because I am a loyal Market Basket customer who was genuinely moved by the saga that played at here in New England not long ago.
I have kept a journal since my wedding in 1994, a book where I summarize the previous year in terms of travel, entertainment, parties hosted and attended, and notable events for that year to name a few. In my “Year in Review 2014” entry, I devoted a whole page to Market Basket. It follows:
“On June 23, 2014, Arthur T. DeMoulas, CEO; Joseph Rockwell, VP; and William Marsden, Director of Operations were fired by the Board of Directors. The CEO position was filled by former Radio Shack executive James Gooch and Felicia Thornton, formerly of supermarket company Albertsons. Six high level managers resigned in response and 300 employees rallied outside MB’s Chelsea store. Employees asked their customers to boycott until Artie T. was reinstated. Yada, yada, yada. On August 27 the shareholders reached a deal to sell their remaining 50.5% shares of the company to Arthur T. DeMoulas for 1.5 billion dollars.
Through the 2014 year, MB gave a 4% discount to customers on all purchases. I didn’t keep very good records, but we saved $104.87, and probably a lot more. During the months when we were boycotting Market Basket, it was really hard to find a good place to shop. When the deal was finally reached, I went to my go-to Market Basket store in Danvers. There were employees standing outside the entrance applauding the return and support of their customers. What a story!”
The DeMoulas family feud goes way back to the ’90’s, but in a nutshell, the two factions were led by the sons of Telemachus (Mike) and George DeMoulas, who bought the business from their founder father, Telemachus. Arthur T.’s father was Mike, Arthur S.’s father was George, who died suddenly in 1971. George’s side of the family sued the other side claiming that their business interests were not well-represented by Mike. The courts found for George’s side and awarded them controlling interest in the corporation.
What the final dispute was about was drastically different business models. Arthur S. had received a business degree and subscribed to the theory that the responsibility of business is to increase profits for the shareholders. Arthur T. believes that the corporation has a moral obligation to serve the community, and promotes the values of loyalty, courage and kindness for multiple stakeholders, including employees, vendors and customers.
While we were living all of this through social media, I kept thinking what a great movie this would make. I think I had decided that Christian Bale should play Artie T. and maybe Brad Pitt Arthur S.
When Artie T. addressed his employees the next day after having reached an agreement to purchase the 50.5 share from Artie S.’s side, he said:
“You have demonstrated to the world that it is a person’s moral obligation and social responsibility to protect a culture that provides an honorable and dignified place in which to work.”
What’s more beautiful than the culture of Market Basket where the values of loyalty, kindness, family, ingenuity, and hard work are cornerstones of the corporation.
This was a tough one. The recipe I’ve chosen is for ham salad sandwiches, because when I shop with my husband, we are usually hungry and split a package of finger roll sandwiches from the prepared foods section of the store. We usually get the chicken or ham salad. For $1.99 a package, it’s a delicious and economical snack.
Ham Salad Sandwich
12 oz. cooked ham, chopped, (ham steak works well)
3 T dill pickle relish or sweet pickle relish
2 T brown mustard
6 T Mayo, or more as needed
3 T minced onion
Process the ham in a food processor until finely chopped but not
pasty about 6 or 7 pulses. Place the finely chopped ham in a large bowl
Add the mayonnaise, onions, relish, and mustard to the processed ham.
Mix well and, if the mixture is too dry, add more mayonnaise. Refrigerate
until serving time.
Spread on your bread of choice, top with a Romaine leaf, cover with
second slice of bread. Yum.