GA Trade Nov-Dec interactive - page 10

C O V E R S T O R Y
Lebkuchen. In 1930, Lebkuchen-
Schmidt employed 150workers and
produced 35,000 Lebkuchen packets.
Today, 800 employees are on staff
during Lebkuchen season, with 3
million Lebkuchen cookies
baked each day.
Lebkuchen-Schmidt
ships worldwide.
The U.S. ranks first
in gross sales.
“We’ve seenU.S.
sales revenue rise since
entering the partnership
withMostly Chocolate,” states
JürgenMerkel, Export Manager,
Lebkuchen-Schmidt. Orders increased
from 2 container shipments in 2012
to 3 in 2013. “Our long-term goal is
to improve sales and brand aware-
ness. We’re already seeing positive
results from our investment,”Merkel
confirms. With shipments to all 50
states, overall revenue has also
grown steadily for Mostly Chocolate
at an average of 13% annually for
the past 3 years. Interestingly, the
state of California leads U.S. sales.
Family and Community Spirit
The success of MostlyChocolate.com
has been built on the shoulders of
two pioneers in the German-U.S.
food distribution business. Peter
Nelson began importingAsbach and
other liquor-filled chocolates about
20 years ago. He built a thriving
consumer chocolate division. About
the same time, Heinrich Friedmann
began importing Lebkuchen cookies
into the U.S. Friedmann became the
founder of German Food Specialties.
By 2010, Peter Nelson passed away
and Friedmannwas ready to sell. In
the heart of the recession, Valois
listened to his gut and purchased the
two gourmet import companies. “No
banks were giving loans during those
tough economic times. I was forced
to usemy own capital to launch
MostlyChocolate.com,” Valois
recalled. Valois’ great-grandfather
emigrated fromGermany in 1876,
becoming amailman inNewYork
City. With the same independent
spirit, Valois launched his first solo
business venture.
Like Schmidt, Mostly Chocolate is
truly a family-owned and -managed
business. “My teenagers have
regularly participated in rechecking
orders and helping in the warehouse.
Mywifemakes all the big deci-
sions,” Valois confides with a
wink. Valois received his
formal education at the
University of Central
Florida, after receiving his
hands-on life training as
a U.S. Marine. “We give to
WoundedWarriors.” Valois
adds that he tries to hire veter-
ans. “I recently had a position to fill.
AU.S. veteran had an outstanding
resume and took the job.”
As part of his corporatemarketing
strategy, Valois has partneredwith
the German Chambers across the
country. He is a very activemember
of GACC South. “Bob generously
donates Lebkuchen for GACC South
meetings and events,” says Katharina
Wilke, GACC SouthMembership and
Events Coordinator of the Carolinas.
Valois joined the organization at the
Executivemembership level, with the
opportunity to host an “After Hours”
networking event.
OnNovember 19th, from 5:00pm to
8:00pm, Mostly Chocolate will treat
GACC Southmembers of the Caroli-
nas and guests to a traditional
German ChristmasMarket at their
warehouse in Charlotte, NC. Attend-
ees will enjoy festivemusic, a tour,
Lebkuchen and chocolate tastings, as
well as holiday cheer. The 2014
Lebkuchen tins will be on display in
front of 80 pallets of Lebkuchen and
chocolates. Wilke reminds members
that advanced registration is re-
quired. About 1,000 invitations will
be issued and sign up begins a
month in advance.
With the advent of the partnership
with Lebkuchen-Schmidt, Valois has
been able to have a regular
presence inmany key U.S.
cities. “Over the past two
years, Mostly Chocolate
has been a consistent
and generous sup-
porter of not only the
German business
community, but also the
German cultural community
in the Philadelphia region,” affirms
Lindi vonMutius, Executive Director
of the GACC Philadelphia. “Leb-
kuchen is always a crowd favorite at
our Spargel Fest and Golf Outing,
andMostly Chocolate even hosted a
special beer and chocolate tasting
event we heldwith the German
Society of Pennsylvania in Septem-
ber 2013,” she adds.
Last year, Mostly Chocolate also
became a sponsor for German
language scholarships at the Im-
manuel German School. “It’s no
wonder that Mostly Chocolate has
dominated Lebkuchen sales in the
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GermanAmerican TradeNov/Dec 2014
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