Here’s an actual feel good story with a happy ending: the story of the Market Basket supermarket chain.
For those of you who don’t remember or don’t know, this was the local New England supermarket chain where the family that owned it got into a war over how the chain was to be run. The war was between two cousins, both of them named Arthur DeMoulas — one being Arthur T. DeMoulas (or the good Arthur) and the other being Arthur S. Demoulas (the bad Arthur) — and who both had factions on the board supporting one or the other.
The good Arthur had been running the chain for ages, and had amassed an enormous amount of loyalty from his managers and employees. The bad Arthur, on the other hand, had a legitimate claim that the good Arthur’s father had defrauded his side of the family out of a share of the company, and that litigation was successful. The bad Arthur eventually won control of the Board and fired the good Arthur as what appeared to be a prelude for unloading the company.
And then something happened which was unprecedented in American labor law: the company’s managers and employee’s went on strike.
None of them were members of a union.
None of them were striking for their own wages and benefits.
Managers and employees were all working on the same side.
They put it all on the line for the company President. Because they loved him that much.
The concerted action was so powerful that the bad Arthur and his partisans eventually caved and sold the store to the good Arthur.
Needless to say, this should be a required course at Harvard and most other business schools, a course on what Arthur T. DeMoulas did for his employees that made him so beloved.
And now, one year later, we can report that Market Basket is thriving once again under the leadership of the good Arthur.
Who knew? Fairy tales actually can have happy endings.