This post is part of our Big Company, Small Town series, featuring large companies and the small towns in which they are headquartered.
The town of Orrville sits on the northern edge of the Ohio Amish area, and has that same bucolic feel. A friendly town that once was no more than a railroad stop for the agriculture, and a bedroom community for the heavy industries, of Wooster and Massillon, it is now best known as the jam capital of America, the home of the big (and growing) J.M. Smucker Company (NYSE: SJM).
Smucker has more than just its office in Orrville. For over 100 years, it has made jam in its factory right in the center of town. Of the 8,500 Orrville residents, 1,100 currently work for Smucker. It also operates the Simply Smucker's store in town, where visitors can view 350 varieties of Smucker's products, some available for taste-testing.
Since its fortunes and Orrville's are intertwined, it's fortunate for the community that Smucker appears on Fortune magazine's annual list of the top 100 companies to work for year after year, even finishing number one in 2004. The company is also known for its local charitable contributions. This year, for example, Smucker and its employees provided almost half of all funds raised by the United Way of Orrville.
Over the past decade, Smucker has been spreading its jammy goodness over other products through an aggressive acquisition program, and now owns brands such as Crisco, Pillsbury, R.W. Knudsen Family, and, most recently, Folgers. While its stock performance hasn't excited shareholders over the past decade, the company seems well diversified and solidly positioned to weather market turbulence.
Caveat: My niece Emily works at the Orrville plant each summer, so I may not be completely objective in my appreciation of this community-friendly company. Or I could have been swayed by the tanker-full of Smucker's Strawberry Jam I've eaten in my lifetime.
But no. The truth is, I can't imagine a company that gives and gets more back from the community more than J.M. Smucker. Every small town should be so lucky.
Be sure to check out more Big Company, Small Town posts.