James “Jerry” Hagedorn
Class of 2019
Jerry Hagedorn’s love of math is what led him to the candy industry.
The youngest of seven children, he was born on April 29, 1959 to Thomas and Katherine. His father passed away when he was two, leaving his mother to raise him and his six siblings.
Inspired by a CPA office on his paper route when he was 12, Jerry would take bookkeeping classes in high school and major in accounting in college. After graduating from Baldwin Wallace College in 1981, Jerry landed a position at Price Waterhouse Cooper. He would eventually be assigned to the Chicago office, where candymaker Brach’s Confections became one of his clients.
In 1992, he was brought on as Director of Financial Planning at Brach’s and thus began his love affair with the confectionery industry.
His passion spilled over into his trips to the grocery store with his family, according to his kids, who recall Jerry heading for the candy aisle to straighten the hanging and laydown bags, make sure the seasonal candy looked good and fluff up product in the bulk candy bins.
When he joined Barry Callebaut Americas in 2006 as Chief Financial Officer, the company had one plant in Canada, four in the U.S. and one in Brazil, six total. Today, the company boasts two plants in Canada, nine in the U.S., three in Mexico, three in Brazil and one in Chile — along with establishing regional headquarters in Chicago.
One of Jerry’s greatest legacies is resolving the industry’s California Prop 65 issue, something that not only affected Barry Callebaut, but everyone in the industry.
He spent two and a half years and $2 million fighting on behalf of the industry and although there’s still work to be done, his determination brought an end to almost 20 years of threatened and actual Prop 65 lawsuits. For his efforts, Jerry received the 2018 NCA’s Distinguished Service Award.
An advocate for the next generation of confectionery leaders, Jerry serves as a mentor to many within Barry Callebaut and outside of the organization, in addition to being a champion of NCA’s Young Professionals Network.
Jerry and his college sweetheart, Jeanmarie, have two children, John and Katie, and a young grandson, Ruben. Outside of the industry, he enjoys fishing, going to the beach and a good red wine.
“Jerry is an outspoken voice for our industry, and this is underpinned by his purpose-driven and values led character. He has fought tirelessly to support our interest,” says Todd Tillemans, The Hershey Co.’s U.S. president.