Episode Summary: Howdy and Howard Holmes

Started in 1887 in Chelsea, Michigan, just outside of Ann Arbor, Chelsea Milling was pretty run-of-the-mill until the wife of the second generation, Mabel Holmes, figured out how to create a baking mix, called Jiffy Mixes, “so simple, even a man can do it!”Fourth generation CEO Howdy Holmes won two state hockey titles for Ann Arbor High before starting his own Indy Car team, becoming rookie of the year at the 1979 Indy 500.

In 1987 Holmes returned to transform the family business. Today, JIFFY is the market share leader in retail prepared baking mixes. The company never advertises, and rarely relies on outside help, creating a completely vertical company from making the boxes to trucking them around the country. Howdy’s son Howard is now the company Vice-President and COO.

We talk to both of them about the unique challenges of running a five-generation family business. Some takeaways: Don’t run your family with your head or your business with your heart, or you soon won’t have either. Thinking long-term will beat short-term every time. And hire for character over credentials.

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