I read INC's article on Henri's Food Products with great interest. Although I have worked for Henri's for seven years, I was not involved in the legal action with Kraft, so I found many of the behind-the-scenes nuances very interesting.
However, it seemed to me that Henri's was pictured as lethargic during this period.As the person with primary responsibility for engineering and manufacturing, I can assure you that this was an extremely active time. We developed and brought to market a wide range of both new products and new packaging concepts. We completely redesigned our 8- and 16-ounce retail packages. This made it necessary to install the Fuji neck-banding machine, which, by the way, performed beautifully from start-up to the present time. The connotation of your article is that we had trouble with the Fuji machine. Such was not the case.
The author replies: Mr. Swanson's list is a splendid addendum to Mr. Krueger's. I would draw special attention to two of his rules.
One, although "corporate suicide" is a legitimate worry, it must be balanced against the demoralizing effects of easy capitulation, which can be another form of untimely death on the corporate battlefield.
Two, it helps if your attorney's and your company's mutual interests go beyond retainer payments. William E. Glassner Jr., Henri's main counsel, was well qualified to direct the litigation and handsomely paid for his efforts; being a company director, however, he also had more than an academic interest in the suit's outcome. While not always a labor of love, his fight on Henri's behalf was an act of passion and tenacity. In this case, anyway, passion and tenacity beat some long and highly unfavorable odds.
"Lethargic" is not how I would describe my characterization of Henri's during the time of the lawsuit; perhaps the better term would be "distracted." There is no doubt in my mind that Henri's was and is a resourceful, innovative manufacturing company; such innovation surely did not cease during the long period of litigation. Still, I heard from many others connected to Henri's that the cost of fighting Kraft, fiscal and otherwise, had a retarding effect on many areas of the operation. That was my larger point. Indeed, mention of the Fuji machine was there merely to illustrate that flair for getting things done. At the time, Mr. Bayless told me that his team had, in fact, experienced some difficulties with then machine and had modified it accordingly -- a resourceful act if ever there was one.
Joseph P. Kahn