A Tale Of Two Arthurs

Some of you may have heard the story about the New England super market chain called Market Basket. It was started at the beginning of the last century as a 600 square foot grocery store in Lowell Massachusetts by a Greek Immigrant by the name of Demoulas. Later as he started to age and the chain started to grow he turned it over to his two sons Telemachus and George who continued to grow and expand the business. The two brothers worked very well together creating a very successful business. They offered the best values around for their customers. During hard times like during the depression they extended credit to their customers. They always treated their associates as if they were family, making a point to know all of them and stepping in to help when they needed something. They always did their best to buy from local farmers and vendors and they always treated them fairly making sure there were enough profits for all of them. The customers always came first and the money followed and soon they had over 70 stores throughout New England. The sons grew older and became more successful. The married nice women and each had four children. But tragedy struck when George died of a heart attack at the age of 51.
Telemachus kept the company growing always making sure that George’s family was taken care off. He made sure that they had a good strong income and that George’s kids had everything they needed. The interesting thing is that Telemachus’ son Arthur T. DeMoulas was all about the business. He wanted to learn everything about the business from the ground up. But his cousins on the other hand wanted nothing to do with the business. They were always happy to take their share of the earnings and buy cars and houses and start little boutique businesses, travel and for the most part live the good life of the idle rich. Arthur S. DeMoulas the oldest of George’s children was on the board of the company and soon took the other side of the family to court on the basis that they should be giving the share- holders more of the profits rather than turning them pack into the business. And from there a true battle resulted. It was cousin against cousin, Arthur T. vs, Arthur S.
Arthur S. wanted less money paid out to the employees, fewer benefits and higher profits; in short he wanted more money for the shareholders of which there was only his family and Arthur T.’s. In the end want he really wanted to do was sell the business to a global chain for Billions, that’s right it was now worth Billions of dollars. Arthur T. who was the actual working family member and the CEO did not want to sell the business. He wanted to keep it going, and growing into other states as well. He was always looking out for his customers.
At that time Market Basket provided the very best value in groceries with prices well below its’ two main competitors Shaw’s and Hannaford both of whom were owned by global conglomerates.
Well, Arthur S. whose family through a long and extended court battle now owned 50.5% of the company eventually won out and Arthur T. was fired as the CEO of the Market Basket chain.
And now the interesting part. The part that I want all of you to read and then think about. First Arthur T.’s former associates rebelled and walked off the job. They went on strike demanding that they get their CEO back. Remember that these were grocery store workers, people who lived pretty much paycheck to paycheck, but that did not matter they found ways to help each other out during the hard times; then another thing interesting happened, most of the vendors went on strike as well. They refused to sell any more of their products to Market Basket and soon the stores were almost empty…and then a third thing happened. The customers got into the act and they started boycotting Market Basket. They went to other competing stores, in fact many of them joined in to help the workers during the strike, as by the way did the vendors. And not only did the customers boycott Arthur S.’s Market Basket they took the sales slips from the other stores they were buying from and taped them to the doors of their local Market Basket stores to let them know exactly how much money they were losing.
Do you get that? Man, is that a story or what? In the end Arthur S. caved and sold his share of the company to Arthur T. who was welcomed back by cheering workers.
It makes you realize just how well loved Arthur T. actually was. In the end all those people were willing to risk their livelihood to keep his vision alive. They could have just shrugged their shoulders and kept working. They were grocery workers after all what did it matter to them whether they worked for a locally owned chain or an internationally owned chain? But it did matter. It mattered so much that they put everything on the line for their CEO.
Kind of makes you think doesn’t it. Would your associates do this for you? Would your vendors do this for you? Would your customers do this for you? Think about that for a minute…nay for more than a minute. What kind of vision do you have for your company? How do your associates, vendors and customers view you? Would they follow through hell to save your company and your job? If you can’t honestly say they would then it’s time for a rethink your whole approach to business don’t you think? It’s only common sense.






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