When Howdy S. Holmes was growing up, it was always assumed that he would take over leadership of the family business. Howdy, however, had different dreams; dreams of becoming a racecar driver. Howdy’s decision to leave college and pursue this dream was not popular with his father, who wanted Howdy to succeed him as CEO at Chelsea Milling Company, manufacturers of the popular Jiffy Mix products.
Despite the strained family relations, Holmes told the audience at the April 19 Economic Club forum
that chasing his dream was the right thing to do at that time in his life, and helped shape him for the business success he enjoyed once he returned to the family business.
“Everybody should have a dream and pursue it,” said Holmes. “If you don’t have a dream, you should have one and chase it.”
Once he completed his extremely successful racing career, Holmes returned to Chelsea Milling Co and discovered the enormous challenges after having been gone for 20 years. He found a company that needed to transition from the mom- and-pop business model to a more sophisticated, professional management style. Over time,
Chelsea Milling Co. grew and prospered. Today, the company has 350 employees and a 67 percent share of the market in retail baking mixes. The company’s stable corn muffins capture 91 percent of the retail market. Chelsea Milling produces 1.6 million boxes of product per day.
Howdy Holmes says the rewards of running the business are far greater than racing, which he said was all about himself. Holmes says business success is all about serving others. He did, however, learn many valuable lessons from the racing career that continue to benefit him today.
“It’s not about what you accomplish,” said Holmes. “It’s about what you overcome.”