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Frank Mars Talks to Business Students at Elizabethtown College

Mar 7th, 2010 | By | Category: Features, Front Page, Uncategorized

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Everyone recognizes Mars Corporation for its confectionery creations. From M&M’s to Snickers to Milky Way candy bars, we see Mars products everyday at checkout counters and grocery stores. But according to Frank E. Mars, the fourth generation family-owned business does more than just make chocolate. It is the one of the largest pet care companies in the world and is pioneering advances in health products that utilize–what else–cocoa.

Frank Mars came to Elizabethtown College on Friday, February 12th. He gave a presentation titled Generation to Generation: The Life of a Company. He began the presentation with the five principles that guide the company. As a family-owned and operated business, he said, everyone in the company is accountable to these standards and values.

“The key to ethics is,” Mars said,” ‘What did you know, when did you know, and what did you do about it.’ ”

After his discussion on business ethics, Mr. Mars spoke on the organizational history of the company. The firm began with his great-grandfather Frank C. Mars. In the 1970s, the company transitioned from a single owner to “Sibling Partnership” and has since continued to be owned and operated by multiple family members. The nature of the Mars Corporation’s ownership allows the company to use dividends that would normally be given to stockholders to re-invest in itself. It also allows for greater flexibility of leadership, as family members and other management professionals change roles relatively frequently.

Mr. Mars himself is President of Symbioscience, a division of Mars Corporation that researches the health benefits of cocoa, sustainability of the company’s natural resources, and veterinary technology. As a way to encourage audience participation, Mr. Mars gave out samples of some of the products of Symbioscience to those who asked questions. These included small boxes of Cirku, a flavored beverage mix similar to Crystal Light that utilizes flavanols from cocoa to boost heart, brain, and eye health. Single pouches and bottles of water were given to the entire audience to sample. Mr. Mars also gave away one small box of a veterinary product called the Wisdom Panel. The unreleased product is a salivary swab that consumers can use to determine the ancestry of mixed breed dogs.

As the audience sipped on bottles of the dietary fruit drink, Mr. Mars continued his lecture on the topic of the international business. He spoke about currency fluctuations and the quickly changing prices of commodities, factors that can have a large impact on a company’s profits. He emphasized the negative role subsidies and tariffs have in international business and the harmful effect they have on the efficiency of transporting goods from countries of production to countries of consumption.

Mr. Mars took several minutes after his presentation to answer further questions. The audience used this opportunity to ask him where they could get more Cirku. Laughing, he informed them that both Cirku and the Wisdom Panel are currently only sold online, but the company is looking to introduce the product in retail stores soon. It won’t be long before they are just as ubiquitous as Mars candy bars.

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