Don Watts - Amy's Vice-Chairman & Treasurer
Over 20 years ago, at the age of 70, Don came to Amy's as CFO. He passed away February 2011. Read more about his amazing life here:
Tell me the story of how you and Andy started working together.
I was a Director and Consulting Financial Officer to a small dessert manufacturer in Hayward, California. A small part of this business was making and selling pies for the holiday season but it was a not a profitable venture. The decision was made to sell the pie making equipment. Somehow Andy found out about it and offered to buy it. I was assigned the jobs of drawing up the sales agreement, and collecting the money (I remember it was $10,000). Eventually I met with Andy to discuss his business and eventually started to work for him as a consultant for 4 hours per week.
What other jobs have you held prior to Amy’s?
I started with a CPA firm, passed the exam in 1942 and almost immediately went into the Navy. I have been a Controller of a cement company, the Executive VP of an NYSE Company, CEO of an ocean tanker company and Chairman of a computer disc manufacturing company among others.
What was Amy’s like when you came on board?
There were no good financial records, and no realistic financial statements, not even a record of the bank balance.
Given all your business experience, what has been the biggest learning (surprise?) with respect to Amy's?
The speed at which Amy’s has grown given the limited capital available.
What in your opinion makes Amy's so successful?
A combination of having great tasting food, a variety of products to suit different tastes and the good fortune to start as the Natural Foods business was taking off.
What was your office like? Where did you and Andy have your early meetings?
My first meeting with Andy was on a log outside the barn (at his house). We had to meet outside because I could not stand up in the office (not enough headroom). Andy’s office was a makeshift room in the barn.
How does Amy's differ from all of the other companies where you have worked?
The owner’s goals are different.
Tell me about your athletic career at Berkeley and your Olympic dreams:
In 1939, I was one of the top three or four Quarter-milers (400 meters) in the U.S. I had hoped to try out for the 1940 Olympic Team as one of the four 1600 meter team members. I was out of college and working but as I started to get into running shape, the games were cancelled. I’ll never know if I could have made it. Hindsight says it would have been tough.
What did you do in the War?
I was an officer in the Navy. I spent a year in Aleutian Islands with the Sea Bees and a year plus at the Navy Yard in South Carolina with a few other assignments thrown in.
How long have you been married?
March 1st, 2008 will be sixty-seven years!
Any advice for younger married couples?
Marriage should be a 40/60 arrangement for each party. You need to remember that your partner has his or her own talents, dreams and goals. For example, my wife majored in Drama in college. I encouraged her and she stayed active in theater work as an actress or director for most our married life.
When will you retire?
When I feel I am not contributing.
What is your favorite Amy’s meal?
Currently it is the Spinach Pizza.