From Holsteins to Hogs
When Doug Hershey graduated from Penn State with a degree in Dairy Science, a career with cows seemed the logical path. A native of Lancaster, PA, and grandson of a dairy farmer, Hershey’s first job was with the Pennsylvania Holstein Association. “I solicited new members, promoted the association and created ads to help members promote their cattle to farmers.”
During the four years he worked at the association, Hershey started dating Jill Dorminy (they later married). Through Jill’s church, Hershey met a man named Donny Beaver.
About that time, Beaver and Ben Stapelfeld (current chairman of New Pig) bought an industrial cleaning company. Recalls Hershey, “They would clean manufacturing facilities. One job was to put down an absorbent granular material to soak up all the spilt machinery oils. They got this idea for a 4-foot sock to encase the absorbent material and make it less messy.” The “Pig” was born.
Hershey was hired to sell the product to distributors, but he admits that initially, he didn’t have much success. The company’s solution: direct marketing. “We sent samples to Fortune 500 companies—anyone in plant maintenance, the plant engineers. We came up with the name ‘Pig’ and just started inventing catchy marketing slogans around it like ‘We have more Pigs in the barn, and here’s seven to try,’” Hershey recounts. “Nobody forgot the name. It took on a life of its own.”
A member of New Pig’s management since its founding in 1985, today Hershey manages New Pig’s direct business unit. He was appointed executive vice president in 1989.
Pigalogs, Pig Pans and Hot Hogs
While out selling, Hershey quickly learned that his product was more expensive than the alternative, the loose clay granules. “So we had to sell the product on its benefits,” he recalls. The initial management team, which included Hershey, worked with freelancers to create the first catalog, “really a 16-page brochure, to describe the benefits. It allowed people to see the product in use; they’d say, ‘Son of a gun, this looks like my plant.’”