With a willing friend, the boys and I toured Herr's Foods, Inc. in Nottingham, PA today. Among other snack foods, Herr's makes potato chips. We are looking at "processes" this fall--how products get from concept to you. (For some cool videos on the subject, see http://manufacturing.stanford.edu/hetm.html). I expected an educational tour of the factory to explain the manufacturing process and maybe get a sample of their product at the end. We got both. In fact, I was really impressed with how they use all the by-products of potato making, including selling starch to a paper factory, feeding scraps to local Angus cattle, and heating the building/factory with the heat from the cooling potato chips!
Most of all, I was pleasantly surprised by the human story that was clearly the undercurrent of this thriving business. Jim and Mim Herr (isn't that great? rhyming names!) founded the company 1946 with a few kettles, a potato slicer and peeler, and a delivery truck. Now it is a company led by all of their 5 children, with 1400 employees, 500 sales routes and many, many snack products. The Herrs have spent their lifetime building on good business practices, overcoming obstacles (such as a devastating factory fire in 1951) and being faithful to live by common sense and wisdom. At the end of the tour, a free little booklet of a paraphrase of the book of Proverbs from Jim Herr is available. In the front cover he states that he has tried to live according to these Biblical principles, in dependence on the Holy Spirit and the grace of Christ.
I got way more than asked for on this field trip. These are the days that make homeschooling especially sweet. Although I would not want my name to rhyme with my husband's (if you know us, you would understand!), I hope, like the Herrs, we can build on a sure foundation and bless others with our lives. I hope my sons are inspired by the kind of perseverance, skill, and business practice we saw today.
I think I'll eat more potato chips.