Billy Henry’s confectionery roots go back to the mid-eighties, 1985 to be specific. That’s when Nabisco Brands and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. merged, forming RJR Nabisco. As a result, Henry moved from Del Monte to the Planters LifeSavers division. During the next 16 years, he had the pleasure of leading sales and consumer marketing groups responsible for iconic candy and snacks brands such asLifeSavers, GummiSavers, Ice Breakers and Planters.
Henry’s last ten years, however, were spent “in less tasty consumer product categories.” Thus, Henry was “very excited” to get the call from Lucky Country’s ownership in January with the opportunity to jump back into the candy industry as its chief executive officer.
Lincolnton, N.C.-based Lucky Country offers a full line of Aussie-style soft licorice products.
“Our Lucky Country products are known for their soft texture and bold flavor profile and they deliver more flavor in every bite compared to standard hard licorice,” he says. A full line of Lucky Country licorice products are sold through major retailers.
“My team and I get to develop, manufacture, market and sell CANDY,” Henry says. “I have the greatest job in the world! We are working on a number of exciting new product initiatives at Lucky Country and will debut a fresh new look on all packaging later this year. I have been able to bring a more consumer-focused approach to the business and am excited to be working with such a smart, passionate team. Great things are on the horizon! “
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
I started out wanting to be an architect. I enjoyed the creative aspects of architecture. In the business world, I have been able to leverage these creative instincts on the brand-building side.
Name one of your favorite movies.
My all-time favorite is A Beautiful Mind. More recently, I enjoyed watching Water for Elephants and The Ides of March.
Describe your perfect dream vacation.
Going anywhere with my wife, daughter and two sons. We want to take a family vacation to Italy sometime in the next couple of years. Do some sight-seeing, beach time and, of course, good food and wine!
What book are you currently reading?
I am a bit of a politics junkie. Biographies of U.S. presidents intrigue me because you get to see an inside perspective on important decisions that have been made regarding our country. I also read business topics. Currently I’m reading Good Boss, Bad Boss by Robert Sutton.
Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
Famous fisherman Bill Dance to catch the fish and famous chef Emeril Lagasse to cook ‘em up.
What is your pet peeve?
Negative, pessimistic people.
I’d give anything to meet:
My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The best piece of advice I’ve received:
A past colleague at Nabisco used to say “It is what it is,” when one of his direct reports would come to him with some bad news. He wouldn’t dwell on the problem, but instead would shift focus to finding the solution. I found this to be a very simple but extremely insightful piece of advice. Good news always travels fast. But I tell my team that I want bad news to travel even faster so we can shift our focus to the solution.
What excites you most about your job?
The people. This industry has really great people.