Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Handshake Deal

I love the idea of people doing deals on a handshake. I’ve built one manufacturing plant solely upon a handshake, although usually we have to get the lawyers involved to make sure that we have everything covered. But, if I had my druthers, I’d prefer to be able to do everything on the old fashioned handshake.

At the SARL Conference I sat next to Mark Dunn with the J. R. Simplot Company from Boise, ID. The company’s founder, J. R. Simplot, 99 years of age, still goes to the office on a regular basis. He started the company in 1923 at the age of 14 near the small farming community of Declo, ID (population 338). Today it is one of the largest privately-owned food and agribusiness companies in the world with annual sales of over $3 billion and one of the world’s largest frozen-potato processors, annually producing over 3 billion pounds of french fries and other potato products worldwide.

One of their biggest sales occurred in 1966 when Ray Kroc (McDonald’s founder) and J. R. Simplot shook hands on Simplot supplying the chain with more uniform, year-around frozen french fries. That handshake between the two titans stands to this day. Mark Dunn told me, “We still don’t have a written contract with McDonalds. We’re still working just on that handshake of 40 years ago.”

Don’t you wish that we could all do that?

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