Eric Johnson

Babson Professor Stephen Spinelli, Case Director

Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship

© Babson College, 2005.


This case is about the journey of an African American entrepreneur, Eric Johnson. Eric comes from an interesting lineage of black entrepreneurship, dating back to S.B. Fuller in 1935 and his father George Johnson in 1954. Eric finds a pathway to entrepreneurship through education (Babson College and the Univ. of Chicago) and work experience. It appears Eric is quite intentional about his career. However, it is not without surprises as Eric achieves management control and success at the (now public) company his father founded and abruptly resigns. Paying close attention to Eric’s actions in his turn around role at Johnson Products we begin to see an emerging business philosophy and consequential management core competencies. Eric employs this philosophy in the acquisition and growth of Baldwin Ice Cream Company and later in a much bigger deal acquiring Richardson Foods. The case does not provide much detail regarding the numbers of either deal so the case provides a series of exercises at the end of the case to force students to think about the economic details associated with an acquisition.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, African American entrepreneurship, acquisition, business models, market segmentation


There is a 59 minute DVD available for this case. Please place orders through ecch.

Teaching Notes

An 8-page teaching note, written by Stephen Spinelli, is available for this case. The teaching package includes strategies for case presentation, key concepts, solutions to the assignment questions in the case, and suggestions for the most effective ways to work this case into a course.