Forrest Mars Jr., businessman, philanthropist, visionary and family man, has passed away.
Mars Inc. has announced that Forrest Mars Jr. passed away on July 26, 2016, at the age of 84. Mars Inc. and associates are filled with sadness at his passing.
- A businessman, who together with his brother John and sister Jacqueline, inherited a significant business and grew it into one of the world’s largest and most respected family firms, increasing its sales from $1 billion to $35 billion, and providing 80,000 jobs worldwide for Associates in 78 countries.
- A passionate believer in the benefits of a global economy for everyone, devoting much of his and his brother’s working life to building Mars internationally, expanding its presence first in Europe, Australia and Japan, and then in countries like Russia, China, Mexico and Brazil and in the Middle East.
- A visionary, who codified, together with his brother and sister, a strong set of business values about creating a mutuality of benefits for all stakeholders of Mars Inc., which they inherited from their father, into The Five Principles that guide the business worldwide; a constitution for the company that has made it a positive force in the world.
- A leading philanthropist, locally and internationally, supporting environmental preservation projects, like the American Prairie Reserve, and numerous projects in support of American history, such as the Brinton Museum of Western and American Indian Art in Big Horn, Wyoming, or the Mars Hall of American Business at the American History Museum.
- An explorer, who loved adventuring in his expedition ship in some of the wildest places in the globe, including navigating the North West passage, while also sponsoring and often joining an annual trip for students from Hotchkiss, his old school, to Antarctica.
- An intensely private family man, who leaves his wife, four children, eleven grandchildren, two great grandchildren, numerous other extended family members and a legacy as a man who insisted repeatedly that everyone’s work should be fun and meaningful.
“Forrest was a great inspiration to all of us at Mars Inc.,” said Grant Reid, CEO and office of the president for Mars Inc. “He was instrumental in building our business, while remaining committed to the founding principles of the company. Forrest will be sorely missed, but his contributions and the legacy he leaves behind at Mars will be long-lasting.”
All funeral arrangements are being handled privately.
Forrest Mars Jr. dedicated himself to building Mars Inc. as a principles-led business that creates mutual benefits for all stakeholders.
Mars began his career in 1955 as a certified public accountant, working as an auditor for Price Waterhouse after serving in the U.S. Army for two years. He joined Mars Inc. — then, a business of less than $100 million in revenue — as a financial staff officer for M&M’s Candies in 1959.
Two years later, Mars was appointed general manager of a new confectionery factory to be built in Veghel, Netherlands, beginning a journey that would take the winning portfolio of Mars products to new geographies; expanding Mars’ presence globally. Beginning with five associates, he oversaw construction of what is now one of the largest chocolate factories in the world. He managed the factory until 1966, when he moved with his family to Neuilly-sur-Seine, outside of Paris, to become managing director of Mars France.
During Mars’ four-year tenure in Paris, the company expanded its pet food business through the 1967 acquisition of Unisabi, creating a strong foundation for future growth in France, which continued well into the 21st century with the 2002 acquisition of Royal Canin. Today, across more than 20 sites in France, Mars Inc. provides direct employment for thousands of Associates in Petcare, Chocolate, Food, Drinks, Wrigley and Symbioscience and touches the lives of thousands more in its operating communities.
Mars moved to McLean, Va., in 1970 to assume responsibility for the company’s confectionery operations as group vice president. In McLean, Mars worked alongside his brother, John, also a group vice president, who managed the company’s pet food, vending and money systems operations. Eventually, the two brothers took joint responsibility for all company functions and, in 1975, they became co-presidents of Mars Inc. At that time, the company’s net sales were just over $1 billion. Over the course of their leadership they continued to expand — opening new markets, launching new brands and expanding the extended family of Mars Associates.
In 1983, Mars and his siblings, John and Jacqueline, formalized and published The Five Principles of Mars based on a business objective first expressed by their father, Forrest Mars Sr., in 1947: to create mutual benefits that make a difference for people and the planet through the company’s performance. These Principles — Quality, Mutuality, Responsibility, Efficiency and Freedom — continue to guide Mars Inc., now a $35 billion business with more than 80,000 associates. The Five Principles unite associates across generations, geographies, languages and cultures and guide them in relationships with consumers, customers, business partners, communities and each other.
Following his retirement as an Associate in 1999, Mars continued to provide guidance and counsel to Mars business leaders. He served as a member of the Board of Directors until 2006, working on the Audit and Remuneration Committees, and he remained active in the Mars Foundation.
Mars was involved in a number of philanthropic and educational causes, including the Fay and Hotchkiss Schools, the Williamsburg Foundation and Yale University. He served on the Board of Trustees for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and was the recipient of their highest honor, the Churchill Bell, in recognition for extraordinary civic leadership and national service. Mars was chairman of the Board of The Brinton Museum in Big Horn, Wyo., and made possible the museum’s state-of the-art Forrest E. Mars Jr. Building. In 1999, Mars and his brother established and permanently endowed the Forrest E. Mars Sr. Visiting Professorship in Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale University to honor their father.
In 2006, Mars was made “Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur” a distinction presented to him on behalf of French president Jacques Chirac by Jean David Levitte, ambassador of France to the U.S.
In 2011, Mars Inc.’s commitment to the principle of mutuality led Mars to be awarded The Order of Friendship by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev for his “particularly important contribution into strengthening Russian-American economic, trade and public connections.” The Order is bestowed upon Russian citizens and foreign nationals who contribute “exceptionally fruitful activities in mutual enrichment of cultures of nations and nationalities and in bringing them together, for strengthening the peace and friendly relations between states.”
Born in 1931 in Oak Park, Ill., to Forrest Mars Sr. and his wife, Audrey, Mars is an alumnus of the Hotchkiss and Fay schools, earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Yale University in 1953, and his M.B.A. from the New York University School of Business in 1958. He has served as a trustee on the boards of American University, Hotchkiss School and Fay School, and participated on the Yale Development Board. Mars is survived by his wife, four children, eleven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and many other extended family members.