Mead Johnson & Company was established in 1905 by Edward Mead Johnson, Sr., a successful New Jersey businessman who wanted to create products that helped people live healthier lives.
E. Mead was well-qualified to embark on this new venture, having been one of the founding brothers of the surgical-bandage company Johnson & Johnson.
In 1895, while still in business with his brothers, E. Mead acted on his growing interest in nutritional products and formed The American Ferment Company to manufacture a product designed to aid digestion. Two years later, he parted from his brothers to focus on this venture, re-establishing it as Mead Johnson & Company in 1905.
By friends and family alike, E. Mead was regarded as a man of vision. Where others saw only facts, E. Mead saw ideas and possibilities—and he invested himself in making them happen. He persevered, too, even during times of adversity and economic downturn. When World War I cut off the supply of his most important product ingredient, he moved his company hundreds of miles away from New Jersey to Evansville, Indiana. There, nestled among the cornfields of the Midwest, he rebuilt his business—almost from the ground up—struggling arduously for several years to overcome the challenges of starting over.
E. Mead's success and customer-understanding were rooted not only in his insights as a businessman but also in his experiences as a father. The life-threatening feeding difficulties experienced by his oldest son, Ted, inspired E. Mead to develop Dextri-Maltose®, a specialty carbohydrate product that became the company's first major success.
Ted grew up to play important sales and marketing roles in the company's future. E. Mead's son Lambert and grandson D. Mead carried his work even further. Lambert became the company's longest-serving president, leading the business from 1934 until 1955. D. Mead, Ted's son, succeeded Lambert, serving as president until 1968.
After Edward Mead Johnson, Sr. retired as president, he spent his remaining years doing the things he loved best: golfing, deep-sea fishing, and spending time with his friends and family. On March 13, 1934, at the age of 81, he died suddenly of a heart attack while dining with his wife and their guests.
The company's 1934 annual report remembered E. Mead:
Pioneer, Leader, Friend: You will continue to live with us in spirit and guide our earnest efforts to carry on your work. We, the directors of the institution you founded and enduringly built, loyally pledge ourselves to uphold the high ideals you inspired in our minds and hearts.
In addition to leadership in nutrition, E. Mead's legacy includes great generosity to his adopted community of Evansville. Just one example was the purchase and donation of a building to an organization that fed sick babies. E. Mead fully equipped the facility and donated infant feeding products, stipulating that the arrangement be kept secret until his death.
For that act of kindness and many others, E. Mead was honored in 1928 with the local Rotary Club's annual award for community service.
His contribution to Evansville and his role as a visionary business leader were recognized even more recently, in 2007, by the Evansville Business Journal. More than 60 years after his death, Edward Mead Johnson, Sr. was inducted as a laureate and local icon of commerce and industry into the journal's Business Hall of Fame.
With Mead Johnson Nutrition now in its second century of leadership in nutrition, the company remains committed to the values and ideals established at its beginning.
E. Mead's legacy endures.