Company Profile

Welcome to the Beatrice Archives, where you will find rare documents from different eras of the company.  You can choose from annual reports, company prospectus, owners manuals, advertisements, recipe guides, among other hard to find documents.  Originally founded as Haskell and Bosworth in 1894 by George Everett Haskell and William W. Bosworth, and primarily engaged in the sale of poultry, eggs, produce and butter.  Haskell and Bosworth later incorporated in Lincoln, Nebraska as The Beatrice Creamery Company in 1898.  The company change its name to Beatrice Foods Company in 1946 to reflect the change from primarily dairy foods to grocery products.

From 1898 to about 1983, not many knew who or what Beatrice was, but many of the well known brands that Beatrice had acquired over the decades, people were using without really knowing that Beatrice owned them.  For example, in 1901 Beatrice Creamery Company patented the name Meadow Gold as the trade name for its dairy line in the markets that Beatrice had dairy operations.  Beatrice continued to remain in the dairy business until it saw an opportunity to venture into other areas.  LaChoy Chinese foods was purchased by Beatrice in 1943 which was to become the companies first venture into other foods products.  Other notable products and companies that were to become part of Beatrice are listed on the Beatrice Products Page.  It wasn’t until 1983 that then Beatrice Companies, Inc. CEO James L. Dutt decided that Beatrice needed a unified identity hired Lipson Alport Glass & Associates to design a completely new identity for the new Beatrice.  Beatrice Foods Company, which changed its corporate charter to become Beatrice Companies, Inc. in 1984, to reflect the general purpose of Beatrice of being more than just a food company.  Beatrice was instantly recognized when during the Olympics in 1984 the company debuted the Beatrice commercials that, at the end of each commercial there was a soft female voice that said; “We’re Beatrice”.

But this is not what made Beatrice a success in the business world, but rather the decades old company practice of decentralized management, which was the envy of other companies.  At the 87th annual meeting of Beatrice stockholders on June 5th, 1984, stockholders of record were asked to change the name of the company. “Recognizing this clear departure from the past, we are proposing a new name for the company. At our annual meeting in June, stockholders will be asked to change the name to Beatrice Companies, Inc. from Beatrice Foods Co. This change is appropriate given the company’s evolution and present composition. It reflects Beatrice’s wide range of separate and distinct businesses, many with operations totally unrelated to food processing, yet retains the company’s goodwill and reputation for quality products and services.” Annual Report, February 29, 1984.

In June 1984, Beatrice acquired Esmark, Inc. Esmark.  The Esmark acquisition was part of the company’s strategy to focus Beatrice’s assets in food and consumer products businesses.  Because of Esmark’s national brands, direct sales force, distribution network and research and development capabilities, its acquisition was expected to accelerate the attainment of Beatrice’s marketing goals. Many analysts believe this acquisition, which was pushed by then Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President James L. Dutt, put too much of a debt load on Beatrice, which hurt Beatrice’s credit rating and therefore deflated the value of Beatrice stock valuation.

1985, Beatrice sold their Beatrice Chemical division to Imperial Chemical Industries. Stahl Finish, Paule Chemical, Polyvinyl Chemical Industries, Converters Ink Company, Thoro System Products were the business units that formed Beatrice Chemical.

In 1986, Beatrice became the target of leveraged buyout specialists Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. They ultimately took over the firm for $8.7 billion — at the time the largest leveraged buyout in history, and over the next four years sold it off, division by division.

In December 1986, a group of Company executives, together with Drexel Burnham Lambert bought International Playtex, Inc. in a leveraged buyout and named the newly private organization Playtex Holdings. Playtex included such brands as Max Factor, Playtex Living Gloves, Playtex Products, Almay, Jhirmack, Danskin, and Halston/Orlane.

When KKR came on board, they sold the Beatrice Dairy Products, Inc. subsidiary, which included the brands of Meadow Gold, Hotel Bar Butter, Keller’s Butter Mountain High Yogurt, and Viva Milk Products, to Borden, Inc. in December 1986 for $315,000,000 million.

In 1986, investment firm Wesray Capital Corporation, acquires Avis Rent a Car System for $263 million plus the assumption of debt.

In 1986, Beatrice’s Coca-Cola bottling operations were acquired by Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. for $1 billion.

Beatrice Bottled Water Division, with brands such as Arrowhead Drinking Water, Ozarka Drinking Water, and Great Bear Drinking Water were also sold to Perrier in 1987.

Brands like Samsonite, Culligan, Stiffel Lamps, del mar window coverings, Louver Drape window coverings, Aristokraft kitchen cabinets, Day-Timers, Waterloo Industries tool boxes, Aunt Nellies and Martha White were merged into a new entity called E-II Holdings, which was later purchased by American Brands for 1.14 billion. E-II was created in June, 1987, as an umbrella company for several non-food businesses of Beatrice.

Tropicana Products, Inc. was sold to Seagram for $1.2 billion in 1988.

All of the international operations were folded into a new entity called Beatrice International Holdings in 1987, which was later purchased that year through junk bond financing for $985 million by Reginald Lewis, a corporate attorney, creating TLC Beatrice International.  TLC Beatrice International became the largest business in America run by an African American and the first company to reach a billion dollars in sales, with a black man at its head. TLC Beatrice sold the Canadian operations; Beatrice Foods Canada, Ltd., in 1990 to Onyx and then Beatrice Foods, Inc. later ended up in the hands of Parmalat in 1997.

In 1987, KKR had formed a new entity, with similar intent as E-II Holdings, called Beatrice Company, which was specifically created to include Beatrice Cheese, Inc., Beatrice-Hunt/Wesson, Inc., and Swift-Eckrich, Inc., which were the last remaining food business units of the Beatrice U.S. Food Corp. operations.  In 1990, KKR sold Beatrice Company to CAGSUB, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of ConAgra, Inc.  Most of Beatrice’s brand names still exist, but under various other owners, as trademarks and product lines were sold separately to the highest bidder.

The original Beatrice Companies, Inc. (Beatrice Foods Co. before 1984, and Beatrice Creamery Company before 1946); went dormant in the late 1980’s, but was revived in 2007.  The Beatrice of today goes by its 1984 name of Beatrice Companies, Inc., which was approved by the 1984 stockholder meeting.  You can see Beatrice Companies, Inc. and see what they now do as a company.

Here are some interesting facts about Beatrice Foods that are not widely known, and are almost unheard of in today’s corporate world:

  • When Beatrice would purchase businesses internationally, the company made a policy of allowing the local management of that company to retain 30% ownership.  This would allow for incentive for local management to help grow the business, since they know the local tastes and needs of the consumer of their region.
  • In the 1970’s, Beatrice was well known for how well it took care of the businesses that it operated and the fact that the company allowed each division to have a fair amount of autonomy without much corporate control.  This fact did not escape Culligan Water, whose management was concerned that their company would be taken over by hostile bidders and sought an alternative.  Culligan management actually approached Beatrice management about the possibility of taking Culligan over, knowing that Culligan would be allowed to operate without any harm to the business and with the original management team still in place after the acquisition.

Leadership of Beatrice”

George Everett Haskell – President of Beatrice Creamery Company (founder), from 1894-1919

W. H. Ferguson– President of Beatrice Creamery Company, from 1919-1927
*Clinton. H. Haskell– President of Beatrice Creamery Company, from 1927-1952

William G. Karnes – President of Beatrice Foods Company, from 1952-1976

Wallace N. Rasmussen – President and Chief Executive Officer of Beatrice Foods Company, from 1976-1980

James L. Dutt -, President and Chief Executive Officer of Beatrice Foods Company, from 1980-1985

§William Granger-President and Chief Executive Officer of Beatrice Companies, Inc., from 1985-1986

Donald P. Kelly – Chairman of the Board, CEO and Director of BCI Holdings Corporation, from 1986-1988

¥Fredrick B. Rentschler – Director, President and CEO of Beatrice Company, from 1988-1990

ȹDeWitt P. Hoopes – President, CEO & CTO of Beatrice Companies, Inc., from 2007-present

Beatrice Name Change Through Its History


*1946, Beatrice Creamery Company changed its name to Beatrice Foods Company.

†1984, Beatrice Foods Company changed its name to Beatrice Companies, Inc.

§1986, Beatrice Companies, Inc. is acquired in a leverage buyout (LBO) and taken private.
¥1987, New company formed called Beatrice Company.

ȹ2007, After a hiatus, Beatrice Companies, Inc. is reactivated.

The Beatrice Way

Financial Analysts. This particular piece was by Wallace N. Rasmussen, President and Chief Executive Officer in 1976:

Understanding The “Beatrice Way”

Let’s look at this difference
— Our senior and corporate executives have no special privileges.
— They work as many hours as other management people in the company.
— An open door policy applies at all levels of management. Any employee has the opportunity for direct communication with executive
officers and others on down the line.
— In keeping with the open door policy, we listen to everybody concerned in a situation. We don’t make shoot-from-the-hip decisions. After we have listened and done our research, then we try to make the right decisions and move quickly on them.
— We stress management productivity. We ask how do our managers spend their time? Too much time in needless meetings? Too much time on insignificant projects? Do our people
— individually — have a built-in routine or checking system to assure that we are working on the important tasks?
— We ask: Do we begin the day with a plan, starting with the most difficult and productive work, or do we take on the endless detail of the job and find ourselves with no time left for making any headway on the innovative work or work we subconsciously view as “extra”? Often, it’s this extra work that has the true rewards in value to Beatrice and, consequently, in the individual’s satisfaction in a job well done.
— We ask our people to watch company expend- itures as they do their own.
— We never accept anything as gospel, but continually re-examine assumptions since everything changes.
— We avoid “pie in the sky” or over-elaborate planning. We develop plans for sales, earnings and cash needs for one year, two years, three years — yes, even five years out. We keep plans simple and on target with the real job, and avoid planning for appearance’s
— The phrase “think big, think small” applies to all functional areas of work at Beatrice. “Think big” means that all management people must have broad overall plans and objectives. But they should not set themselves up as super executives who consider detail too mundane to follow. “Think small” means keeping a balance between detail and broader management aspects without becoming detail-oriented.

Decentralization, a word common to many corporations, is more than a word at Beatrice.
It’s 14 divisions, 54 groups and 400 profit centers.
It’s management productivity — or the work ethic.
It’s aggressiveness in pursuing profits.
It’s giving away enough of your job to subordinates to enable them to share in the “fun” of work.
It’s maintaining a climate that encourages people to work to their fullest capacity without undue interference and it’s continually guarding against inroads that threaten this keystone of Beatrice’s success.
Decentralization is permitting the profit center manager to be the “president” of his “company.” Of allowing him to make all operating decisions other than how the profits will be spent. He develops his own successor. He decides what products to produce, how they should be merchandised, how they should be marketed and how they should be priced. The result is that we have 400 managers who are equipped through operating experience to “run” a company rather than just carry out directives from a higher authority. Finally, the most critical and characteristic attribute of the Beatrice Way:

Maintain an atmosphere that allows — in fact, encourages — individuals to commit themselves to job responsibility.

Two words we use constantly.
First, balance. Maintain balance in your own life, your job, your product mix and the people in your organization.

Second, responsibility. At Beatrice, everyone has the responsibility to do his own job. This climate is not an accident.

Top management continually evaluates how its Actions and those of the corporate office affect the company. Each of us makes critical self-evaluations of how our actions or lack of actions affect the attitudes of the people on our teams.

A critical area of responsibility shared by each Beatrice manager is the bottom line — profit. In being responsible for keeping the balance between people and expenditures, he watches cash flow to insure his operation justifies capital expenditures. He also takes responsibility for improved dollar sales and dollar units of productivity per employee.

Social responsibility in the communities in which we operate is a long-term Beatrice tradition. Managers and other employees are urged to help build stronger and better communities. We must, if we are to survive in business, take on more social responsibilities — not to the detriment of the company, but in order to perpetuate the communities in which Beatrice markets its products.

We must face up to the responsibility for our free market system. We must increase our efforts to convince people that American business is critical to the nation’s growth.

My intention has been to try to outline what I see as the “secrets” of Beatrice. Call it what you want:
A Beatrice tradition or philosophy, or just good management. It’s something special, something we don’t want to lose and something I hope each and every one of our management people strives to pass on and fights to prevent losing.

It’s the Beatrice difference.