Milton had a long path to the top of his industry. He dropped out of school in the 4th grade and took an apprenticeship with a printer, only to be fired. At age 14 he became an apprentice to a candy-maker in Lancaster, PA. After studying the business for 4 years, Milton moved to Philadelphia and started his first of three unsuccessful candy companies in Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York.
Following his Philadelphia venture Milton traveled to Denver, Colorado, and other places working for confectioners including caramel makers. Looking for business opportunities in New Orleans and Chicago, he landed in New York, opening his next candy making business. It only lasted three years.
Not about to give up, Milton moved back to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and began the Lancaster Caramel Company. His unique caramel recipe, which he had come across during his earlier travels, was a huge success. After several years of great success, Milton, who was always looking ahead, believed that chocolate products had a much greater future than caramel. He sold the Lancaster Caramel Company for $1 million in 1900 (approximately $25 million in today’s currency) and started a new company using his last name. The Hershey Company, which brought milk chocolate — previously a Swiss delicacy — to the masses.
Not only did Milton Hershey persevere to overcome failure and accomplish his goals, but he also managed to do it close to home. Hershey created hundreds of jobs for Pennsylvanians. He also used his money to build houses, churches, and schools, cementing his status as a legend in the Keystone State. To read of all the good deeds and philanthropy he did is truly humbling and inspiring at the same time. It has been recorded of Milton Hershey that he put the quality of his product and the well-being of his employees ahead of profits.
Perseverance and commitment to achievement can belong to anyone. Unfortunately, it is easier to give up or not get back up when knocked down. And many stay down. Entrepreneurs like Milton Hershey should be an inspiration to each of us. God has given you gifts and talents to use in fulfilling a God-given purpose. You may never make $1 million in caramel candy sales, or amass the world’s largest chocolate empire. But you can make a difference in your own little corner of the world. I know, because God created you this way.
Persevere, get back up, and take off running again toward your goals and your God-given purpose.
George Yates is a Church Health Strategist assisting churches, pastors, organizations, and individuals to effectively fulfill their life purpose.