John M. Smith
Class of 2003
John was born December 11, 1963, in Lebanon, PA, and attended Eastern Lebanon High School. He married Beth A. Keener on September 20, 1986, and became co-owner and president of his family’s business, retailer and distributor Smith’s Candies & Co. Inc., the same year. He cites these events as the most memorable highlights of his career. Beth and John have three daughters, Jaclyn, Erika and Mackenzie.
John says the secret of his success has been “continued family involvement and support,” referring to the fact Smith’s is a third generation candy company that has been family-owned and -operated since its founding in 1951.
Reflecting on the candy business over the course of his career, John says: “The personal aspect has changed. There is more done with telemarketing rather than the buyer-to-salesman relationship. The smaller manufacturers have struggled to keep up with the larger corporations.”
His family has had the biggest influence on his career, specifically his grandparents who founded Smith’s by selling candy bars from a wagon, and his parents “whose hard work and faith have enabled us to be successful,” John says.
John is active at Friedens Lutheran Church and has been a soccer coach for six years. As a deputy fire chief of Keystone Hook & Ladder Co. #1, John received the Lebanon County Fireman’s Association Valor Award, and was also presented with the association’s Fireman of the Year award in 1994.
In recognition of his service following the World Trade Center disaster on September 11, 2001, he received a certificate of congressional record. He has also been honored by the Salvation Army and received “Service Above Self” recognition from the Myerstown-Elco Rotary.