Archive: If at First You Don't Succeed ...
BY Mike Hofman
Before his 57 Varieties propelled him to entrepreneurial glory, H.J. Heinz was in a financial pickle.
H.J. Heinz is best known for amassing a fortune of 57 Varieties, but, in fact, the king of condiments was all but washed up at the tender age of 31. In November 1875 he wrote that he was $2,000 in debt and had "not a penny to meet it with." Soon after, Heinz's company was bankrupt and a newspaper tartly dubbed him and his partners a "Trio in a Pickle." The failure must have galled Heinz given that, except for cash flow, his company was booming. The cucumber harvest of '75 had been a bumper crop, and sales were growing apace. Indeed, the reason Heinz couldn't pay his bills was that he had expanded capacity without first lining up enough financing. After the company imploded, Heinz ended up personally liable for at least $20,000. Undaunted, he launched a second food company the very next year. Adding a ketchup product line -- and careful cash management -- made the difference this time, propelling Heinz to entrepreneurial glory.