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Hard Choices - Business Week Magazine Article Review

Essay by   •  August 13, 2011  •  Article Review  •  731 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,449 Views

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Hard Choices

The Business Week Magazine has an article called "Hard Choices" written by Ronald M. Shaich. This editorial tells the story of how Ronald M. Shaich, Panera's CEO, gets to own one of the largest and most recognizable food chains in the United States. Additionally, it gives tips of how to be a successful business person and how to confront adversities when you encounter hard situations as an entrepreneur.

As we already know, Panera is one of the most booming companies in the industry nowadays. However, how did Panera start? Who had this idea? Ronald M. Shaich bet almost everything he had in the late 1990s to achieve what, he believed at that time, was going to be the best for him and for his company.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Shaich inaugurated a cookie store very known by its French baked goods. This store was later on combined with Au Bon Pain, a company that was encountering at that time business problems since it was in debt. After the merger of these two stores, Shaich owned 60 percent of the whole company (Au Bon Pain). In 1993, Au Bon Pain was widely spread around the United States with around 250 locations. In that same year, Ronald also takes the decision of buying St. Louis Bread, "a chain of caf├ęs that made and served artisan bread". It was believed that St. Louis Bread had a lot more future perspectives than Au Bon Pain, since many people were actually looking for bread and local food. Ultimately, this last acquisition acquired the name of Panera Bread.

"I make my best decisions when I am on vacation", said Ronald M. Shaich. According to him, you are not worried about all the stuff that usually gets throw at you as a CEO when you are on vacation, so your mind is relaxed and ready to overcome anything. That is why, in the 1998 Christmas, he took one of the most important decisions in his life: Panera had to own Au Bon Pain, since this one was very weak. Ronald got bombarded with questions from the board. Everyone was afraid at that time since they had to sell everything and really focus on Panera. Also, it was a tough decision since Au Bon Pain was Ronald's first son, but besides that, he knew he had to do it in order for Panera to be a national brand.

After eighteen months of trying to figure out what would be the best, Shaich finally close the deal and got about 73 million dollars for Au Bon Pain and invested that amount in Panera. As it was expected, it was not all accomplishments from the beginning. They had to face a lot of difficulties after the closing and also experienced a decrease in revenues. "It took a while to evolve the concept", said Ronald. As of today, Panera is a company known around the world with 1,500 localities and new innovative ideas knocking the door.

Ronald M. Shaich's general point in this article is that in order to be a successful business person, you cannot be afraid

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