Mars is one of the largest privately owned companies controlled by Mars, Incorporated, primarily owned and managed by the Mars family. Thus, making the Mars family among the wealthiest families in the world.
Foundation and Early Growth
Mars was founded in 1911 by Franklin Clarence Mars. The company initially focused on confectionery products and gradually expanded its offerings.
Move to Chicago and Success During the Great Depression
In 1928, Mars moved its operations to a new suburban factory in Chicago, which is still operational today.
Despite the challenges of the Great Depression, Mars experienced significant growth, driven by the launch of popular products like the Snickers bar in 1930 and the Mars bar in the United Kingdom in 1932.
Diversification and Expansion
Mars diversified its interests under the leadership of Forrest Mars Sr.
The company expanded into pet food and consumer food, with Washington D.C. becoming the new headquarters.
Forrest Mars Sr. introduced iconic products like peanut M&M’s and expanded the company’s food business.
New Headquarters in McLean, Virginia
In 1984, Mars relocated its headquarters to a custom-built facility in McLean, Virginia.
The company continued to expand its portfolio with the introduction of Dolmio pasta products and the acquisition of Dove Bar International.
Rivalry with Hershey and Product Launch Challenges
Mars faced intense competition from Hershey’s in the American candy market in the 1990s.
Consolidation and Family Ownership
After the death of Forrest Mars Sr. in 1999, there was speculation about the sale of the company.
However, Mars remained family-owned and underwent a period of consolidation, merging divisions and agencies.
Acquisition of Wrigley and Expansion
In 2008, Mars announced the acquisition of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in a $23 billion all-cash deal.
The merger formed the Mars Wrigley Confectionary subsidiary. Mars continued to expand its portfolio with acquisitions such as Kind North America and Trü Frü.
Mars remains a privately held company owned by members of the Mars family.
It operates manufacturing facilities in multiple countries and has a diverse portfolio of pet food, confectionery, and food products.