By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer
J.M. Smucker Co., the jam and jelly maker that employs about 200 in Cincinnati, was named the best company to work for in an annual Fortune magazine survey.
Richard Smucker, president and co-CEO with his brother Timothy, said: "We're honored and surprised, but it's not something we sought. We just try to run our business day-to-day.''
Smucker, based in tiny Orrville, south of Cleveland, is the first manufacturer to top the 7-year-old list.
But the 107-year-old company, which acquired Procter & Gamble's Jif and Crisco a year ago, is no stranger to the list. It has been among the top 25 since the list was first put together and moved up from eighth last year.
Fortune's list of 100 best companies to work for - in the magazine's Jan. 12th issue - is compiled by the Great Place to Work Institute through a combination of random employee interviews from just over 300 companies submitting an employee-opinion survey.
Smucker, which acquired part of the P&G Ivorydale complex in St. Bernard as part of the Jif and Crisco acquisition in mid-2002, eschews trendy employee perks in favor of treating employees by the Golden Rule, officials say.
The play-well-with-others approach, as precious as it comes across to an outsider, has clearly won over employees, Fortune says.
"At first, I was skeptical," director of operations Brian Kinsey, who spent 10 years at P&G, told the magazine. "But this family feel is for real."
"It's a philosophy which dates back to our great-grandfather who started the company,'' said Richard. "People are searching for fundamentals.''
With the Jif and Crisco acquisition, Smucker almost doubled its revenues to $1.3 billion.
Richard Smucker admits that maintaining the company's do-unto-others philosophy is more difficult as the company gets bigger.
But he said the P&G acquisition, Smucker's largest, was the easiest integration it has ever undertaken.
"P&G is a great company with similar values,'' he said.
P&G was the only other Cincinnati company on the Fortune list, coming in at 81st, down from 46th last year.
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