For four of his teenage years, from 1872 to 1876, Milton Hershey served as an apprentice to a Lancaster, PA candy maker. After his apprenticeship, Hershey decided to start his own candy business. Armed with an in-depth knowledge of the business, he worked on building his business for six years. Unfortunately, despite his hard work, the business failed.
Undeterred, Hershey moved to Denver, CO and found a job with a candy maker who taught him how to make caramels. A year later, he returned to the East Coast and launched a second candy business, focusing on caramels, in New York City. This business also failed.
Despite two failures in the candy business and on the brink of bankruptcy, Hershey was convinced he would eventually succeed. As such, he returned to Lancaster, PA and started another caramel business. This business was successful. But rather than continuing with caramels, Hershey become interested in chocolates and dedicated himself to learning about and inventing ways to manufacture chocolate. As a result, he sold his caramel company and launched Hershey Chocolate Company. Just over a century after launching the company, Hershey’s firm (now called The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY)) generates annual revenues in excess of $4 billion.
Milton S. Hershey was raised in rural central Pennsylvania and lacked a formal education. Despite this, and despite failing twice at the same business, Hershey maintained entrepreneurial passion, drive and perseverance. As history has shown, these factors were enough to transform Hershey from a failure to one of the great entrepreneurs in history.