Business: Bye-Bye Twinkies, by Rishi Deva

When to call it quits in business and embrace change 

Every successful business owner knows that adaptability is part of having a thriving company. Trends come and go. Consumer tastes change. Companies must adapt their products to meet changing needs and demands. Just as the planetary changes we are experiencing are a call for us to adapt, businesses, which are also alive and organic in nature, must adapt to meet inevitable change. In short, businesses must either adapt, or know when to call it quits.

On November 16, 2012, Hostess Brands, the manufactures of Wonder Bread, Twinkie, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs sent out a press release letting the world know that it was officially going out of business due to labour strife and unprofitability.

As this business announces its end, the natural foods industry continues to grow. Caren Baginsky, journalist for the Natural Business Journal, shares good news in January 2012 for the natural food market in the US, despite hard economic times:

“Growth of the natural and organic food market has slowed considerably during the economic recession. Sales grew just 5 percent in 2009 and 8 percent in 2010 versus the approximate 15 percent growth experienced from 2005 to 2007. However, this sector is still growing much faster than the $630 billion total U.S. food market which grew less than 1 percent in 2010.

Conventional retailers are getting smart about natural and organic, and were responsible for 54 percent of organic food sales in 2010, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey. But natural retailers are still holding strong, bringing in 39 percent of total organic food sales.”

Perhaps, if Hostess created a wheatgrass-filled, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free Twinkie, maybe, their factory doors would not have shut this week. However, the thought of that kind of product may have been a hard sell for their corporate members and their consumers, and a stretch of their established brand.

Other than a reflection of changing consumer demand, the strike that ultimately caused Hostess to close reveals another business ending and call for new beginnings. It is an old school paradigm for management and labour to be in separate camps. In the 30’s, when Hostess was founded, it was the norm. However, it is a model that no longer works today.

In order to adapt to change, which happens so quickly in today’s market, a company must work as an efficient, cooperative team. In other words, all those who are part of a company must be on the same page. Each job is as important as the next. If everyone is a stakeholder, with a shared vision, where the inside of the company prides itself on win-win, productivity flows. A strike only happens when there is an unhappy and unequal distribution of labour and reward, that is, when there is a misalignment in the company mission and the people working for it.

I have not eaten a Twinkie in years, but road trips in my teens were defined by them. I remember putting their sparkly wrappers in the back of my car window, just so that the sun’s rays would naturally toast them to perfection. But that was then. Like most people my age, I am more focused now on the benefits of eating healthy. These days I might have gone for the wheatgrass-filled, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free organic version. But perhaps, as with all endings, it is best to let things that no longer seem to work go, and focus instead on embracing new beginnings.

Rishi Deva (Rishi Gerald) is the CEO of Kupid’s Play Records. He describes Kupid’s Play like this: “Kupid’s Play is the Sound of the I Am Revolution. As an international record label devoted to raising global consciousness we bring awakened artists to the commercial mainstream. Our vision extends beyond a traditional record label. We know impossibilities are not real and build non-traditional revenue models by embracing new technologies in the current economic landscape. We know music is everywhere. Kupid’s Play actively seeks out creative opportunities to get its artists’ music to their fans in new ways ensuring that the Sound of the I Am Revolution is heard.” With two decades of experience in the music industry, Rishi has been nominated for numerous marketing awards and earned a Gold Record in the music industry for management.