What You Can Learn About Bankruptcy from Milton Hershey

Imagine a world without the chocolate bars you grew up eating as a kid and perhaps still indulge in today. Is it too dark of a world to imagine? Perhaps that’s why Milton Hershey moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at the ripe age of fourteen to take on an apprenticeship with a confectioner to learn the art of candy making. 

As you may have already guessed, Milton Hershey was a huge success in the candy-making business after two failed businesses. The first time he opened a company was in 1876, right in Philadelphia, but the company was short-lived. The second company failure had a few years of success in Denver before closing in 1886. Both of these failed businesses resulted in bankruptcy. 

Milton’s Success 

After leaving Denver and returning to Lancaster, Milton borrowed money from the bank to open Lancaster Caramel Company. By 1890, with over 1,300 workers and two factories, his third company was a huge success. 

After his first two failed attempts to start a candy company, this initial success led to his third, far more significant, successful company. Taking a chance, he sold the Lancaster Caramel Company for one million dollars.

It was this million-dollar investment that allowed Milton Hershey to open the Hershey Chocolate Company. By 1905, he had the largest chocolate manufacturing company in the world. 

The Answers to His Success 

So much happened in Milton Hershey’s life, from his apprenticeship at the age fourteen to his prosperous chocolate company at the turn of the 20th century, that can account for his great success. 

  • Being trained by Joseph Royer, to understand candy recipes for his candy-making skills. 
  • His persistence, after two bankrupted candy companies, to keep working towards his goals. 
  • When his Lancaster Caramel Company gained popularity, he also had a particular Britain who loved his caramel candies and brought them back to England to thank for his thriving business. 
  • And overall, Hershey indeed had to be grateful for the two bankruptcies he filed for his two initial, failed businesses. 

A Lesson Learned 

It might sound crazy when you first think about it. When bankruptcy comes to the mind, most people don’t think it’s something to be grateful for, but it’s a marker that the person has failed; it’s the last resort to a broken, crumbling company. 

However, if Milton Hershey had not been able to file bankruptcy for his two failures, he would have spent his entire life paying off his debt. Without the existence of relief like bankruptcies, Hershey would have never found the path to his success. 

While you may not see yourself opening any million-dollar candy companies any time soon, Hershey’s story teaches a lesson in bankruptcy. Though it is not something to be thrilled about, bankruptcy is an answer to a problem, not the end of life. There is life, and even a prosperous, successful one, after a bankruptcy. 

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