Spice purveyor Bill Penzey is at it again. The CEO of Wauwatosa-based Penzeys Spices told a conservative customer, Guy Cascella of Texas, that he doesn’t get a say in politics because he voted for President Donald Trump.
“Sorry but if you vote for an openly racist candidate, who wants to take health care insurance away from 23 million Americans, you don’t get to say you want what’s best for all of us,” Penzey wrote in an email on July 19. “You messed up. Take responsibility for your actions. Make amends. Move on. Then you can get back to thinking of yourself as decent.”
“At first I was completely dumbfounded that the CEO of the company would respond to one of his customers in that manner,” Cascella said in an interview on Friday.
“When you say I’m not a decent person, then yeah, I took it very personally,” Cascella said. “It went beyond a left versus right conversation for sure.”
Cascella wrote to Penzey in response to one of the company’s emails to its customer base written by Penzey. That Penzey email, “We have great Garlic,” acknowledged the company had lost customers last year when Penzey repeatedly attacked Republicans in his company’s communications with customers.
“We’ve picked up many new customers since the election. If this is you, thank you! We appreciate your support because, let’s face it, at least for a while, we’ve lost some customers, too,” the email said in the opening paragraph. “Though in recent weeks there already are hopeful signs that some are already starting to come back around.”
After receiving that email, and several others during the election campaign last year attacking Republicans, Cascella responded by asking Penzey to consider that he has Republican customers, too.
Bill – Thanks for acknowledging that you may have recently lost some customers, too. Please just be a bit more in tune with your customers who may not agree with your political stance… there are decent Republicans who also love people and want what’s best for us all too, even though we may have voted for a different candidate. I love your products, your stores, and your employees, but your recent messages have definitely been a turn off. I get that the country is divided and upset and you have every right to profess your views, but don’t forget that you have other customers who are considering dropping their business with you because of it… which is difficult because your products are so amazing. We all want what is best for our country, even though our views on what is best may be different.
Thanks for listening – have a blessed day.
Cascella’s email prompted the scathing reply from Penzey, startling Cascella with its rudeness.
“It’s almost apart from being a political issue now,” Cascella said. “But for him, as CEO of a company and me as a customer, to come at me with that reaction and basically insinuate that I am not a decent person based on my view I found very offensive. And not even from a political level but just from a human decency perspective.”
Cascella said this was the first time he’s ever reached out to a company to complain about they’re taking a political stand. “Personally I have no issue shopping with companies that are headed by people with left-leaning views,” Cascella said. “But I don’t believe they have to put that out there to their customer base, ‘this where I am and you’re wrong if you think against me.”
Cascella and his family even remained loyal Penzey customers despite the company’s political statements last year. “I knew previously before all this happened that Penzeys was run by a company with opposing views,” Cascella said. However, the last email from Penzey finally prompted Cascella to respond.
“Really, kind of ever since the elections the email have been more bitter against Republicans and they’ve become a little more accusatory and attacking,” Cascella said. “The last communication that he sent out, he pretty much said that as a result of the things we’ve said before, granted that we’ve lost some customers or some people who received our newsletter, and then he goes on to talk about how his sales have increased as a result of him taking this political stance and putting all his views out there.”
Attempts to reach Bill Penzey for comment on the email exchange with Cascella, using both the phone number and the email for leaving comments for Penzey, were unsuccessful.
Cascella said the email response from Penzey has ended the family’s purchasing of spices from his company. They are now shopping with The Spice House, which is run by Bill Penzey’s sister and her husband. Last November The Spice House offered a discount for purchasers who used the promo code, “nopolitics.”