Industry Insider: John Brooks, Jr., Adams & Brooks, Inc.

Washington — Born into the business, John Brooks, Jr. is a third-generation candymaker who was named president of Adams & Brooks in June 2021. He learned the business working in every department in the company and says there are no short cuts. He was recently appointed to the NCA Board of Trustees, his second time on the board, and is a member of the NCSA’s Manufacturer’s Council.


What is your business philosophy? Always be part of the solution and never allow yourself to be the origin of a problem.

What does success mean to you? Having the freedom to make the best decisions based on only the most principled considerations.

What gets you excited about your job? New products! I love being in the plant working on innovation and seeing it come to life. It is exciting to plan and execute projects that incorporate finance, operations and marketing.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? It was a warning: 95% of professional failures have little to do with technical ability but rather an inability to successfully manage relationships.

People would be surprised to learn . . . I have two little dogs at home who rarely leave my side.

When I’m not working . . . I spend time with my family. My wife, Nicole and I have two young daughters and I enjoy being involved with activities. Ask me about my auctioneer skills!

Who are your role models? Only one, my father, the “Real” John Brooks.

How do you explain your position to people outside the industry? “I work for a candy and snack company.”  As we all know, that is a conversation starter.

What is your pet peeve? Broken promises.

What moment in your career was pivotal to reaching your current position? No single moment. I am where I am due to starting young and early in the plant, working through every manufacturing department, learning the operation, then only later moving to administrative/office positions, and learning the company from that perspective. There are no shortcuts. To lead a company you need to know how the company functions. Faith in your abilities comes from that.

What do you do to ensure you continue to progress in your career? I make an effort to be informed on as many aspects of the industry as possible: market trends, technical developments and political forces. Without knowledge of these concepts, you risk making less than optimal decisions.

What tool do you use to become a better leader? Amateur psychologist. 

What makes the confectionery industry so special? The people and the products. Our products are those that no one really needs, but everyone must have, with which many have deep emotional connections. Some of the strongest relationships I have in the industry are with competitors. That’s uncommon but such a welcome aspect of our industry.