Hawkins Cheezies: Totally Exponential

Abundance Organizational culture Purpose


Key Point: Undoubtedly, my favorite snack is Hawkins Cheezies. No other orange substitute will do. I totally resonate with the following comment by another dedicated customer: “For some reason, a bag of Cheezies (the real, Hawkins kind – they’re Canadian, did you know)? With some kind of big red wine has become my idea of heaven on a Friday night” – @dinnerwithjulie.

Janis Thiessen‘s recent book, Snacks: A Canadian Food History, explores the history of snacks and dedicates a whole chapter to Hawkins Cheezies: “I was not a Cheezie lover until I toured the company and learned about their history. I saw how they operate and actually will now consume the product from time to time out of affection for their work process. Hawkins uses all of the original equipment in a plant within a small-town in Ontario, so you get every size and shape of Cheezie imaginable. It’s a very tiny operation. They don’t work Friday afternoon or weekends. Their evening shifts are only cleaning shifts and they do not advertise because they would have to increase production. There are other options out there, but the difference with the Cheezie is that the process of making them is not computerized.”

Hawkins Cheezies Mission Statement:

We believe that people, our managers, our permanent staff, our temporaries and our students represent the brick and mortar of our company. It is through people producing the finest quality product available, we will continue to forge our future. We will always recognize that our customers are the vital key to our future. We are obligated to our customers to deliver the finest and we have promised to do so in full measure.”

The “history” on their modest website details more, saying “W.T. Hawkins Ltd., a 66-year-old staple in rural Ontario, Canada, is currently led by president Kent Hawkins – grandson of the founder. After W.T. Hawkins passed away in 1961, his son, W.W. (Web) Hawkins assumed control and guided the company for nearly 30 years… Continuing with the basics of family values, fresh ingredients and hands-on management, the Hawkins legend has flourished. Dedicated to quality and service, Hawkins Cheezies® receives loyal support from its customers and continues to perfect its manufacturing success… We have created a family tradition that extends beyond bloodlines. It is a family that has strong ties to the community and one that encourages giving where one can.”

I write constantly about how we have to be transformative and change or someone will eat us for a snack. So I wanted to highlight a company that has and continues to flourish while resisting significant change. As mentioned above, Hawkins Cheezies still uses their original equipment and is so dedicated to traditional family values and fresh ingredients that it refuses to compromise for the sake of growth. It is totally possible to be relevant for the future and very traditional. In the end, the customer has to really value what you produce, employees have to be loyal to your product, customers and purpose, while the company provides an environment where people want to stay and fully contribute. That recipe will transcend exponential technology.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Would your customers take a joy filled selfie consuming your product or service? Cheezies customers do and send them to the company (even though the company has never campaigned for them). How might you make that happen in your organization?
  2. Basics count first! Fancy technology is a means, not an end. Digitizing a dumb business model or poor offering just expedites making more crap. If you want a great culture and loyal customers, make sure your basics are super solid first. (Ideally, in one way or another, it pairs favorably with red wine).

Hawkins Cheezies in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: I never buy Cheetos or Cheez-Its, but Hawkins Cheezies are good enough for one to suspect they might be sprinkled with crack cocaine due to their seeming propensity to possess addictive properties. They are notably great. Thankfully, it’s just a tried and true formula backed by time, values, customer loyalty and solid company culture. The same can be said for other companies like In-N-Out and more that haven’t wavered from their original successful recipes.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis