Hello and good day!
If I go back 20 years and look at why my dad and brother started our business in the first place, I can see that the core reason was the desire to start a family business.
That was the why.----What business to be in was a secondary consideration.
If they wanted to make a quick, easy buck, they would have gone into real estate in San Diego, CA.
My dad had a successful track record as a real estate developer and he and Brian could have cleaned up buying single family properties, tearing them down, and popping up 4 unit condos in their place.
But that wasn't what they had in mind.
They wanted something that would provide a long term sustainable competitive advantage so that the family business could endure for the long run.
This line of thought took them to Peru to meet with the world's biggest gold mine, trying to sell a new technology they had an exclusive right to sell. Because of that, both Brian and I met our Peruvian wives and we became a Peruvian-American family.
The initial business with the gold mine lasted 3 years.After it terminated, we spent a solid year and half trying to find a new project in Peru.
We had high hopes for two new projects during that period, a business exporting trout, and a business producing ethanol out of sugar cane, but both ended up being busts.
Yet, Dan and Brian endured.
I had to come back to the United States with my wife to finish college during this period, so I don't get any credit for this part of the story.
Along the way, they decided to look into a contract selling fruits and vegetables to the mine's cafeteria.That took them out to the jungle looking at bananas.
Looking at bananas led to cacao.
Deciding to get into cacao led to a year and half period of learning how to buy and process cacao.During that time, Brian lived off a small stipend provided by the company's savings so that Brian could support his family financially.
Two and half years after deciding to get into cacao, we finally made our first sale of chocolate.There were about three and half years that were very austere.Our company had no income to speak of. It was all an investment in the future.
Why?-------The idea of a family business.
When we got word back from the USDA that we'd discovered a thought to be extinct variety of cacao, we decided to go all in on buying cacao from the community where the rare cacao grew.
Prior to that, we were buying from a dozen or so communities throughout the area to practice post harvest processing.
It became obvious pretty quickly that Brian was going to have to move out to live in that remote community if those folks were going to be our exclusive suppliers of cacao. Brian's moving out there and living with cacao farmers added another why to our cause.
Support that cacao growing community by purchasing cacao at the highest possible prices.Over the years, we've been faced with challenge after challenge, but we are still here 20 years later.
In 2020, when the pandemic hit, the wholesale chocolate business we'd been building for over a decade started to crumble. Restaurants were being shut down and nobody was buying chocolate from us.
Because of our mission to always buy as much cacao as possible, we kept right on buying even though our bank balance was becoming frighteningly low.
In a desperate last ditch attempt to save our business, we put up our website www.fortunatochocolate.com to try and sell our chocolate directly to the public for the first time ever.
And it worked.
Customers all over the country started buying chocolate from us and we were able to stave off the end of our chocolate story. A huge thank you to all of our wonderful customers.
Now we have another why.
Serving our wonderful customers all over the United States with exquisite, yet fairly priced chocolate.Based on interactions with online customers, we realized how fun and fulfilling it is to directly serve the chocolate loving public.
This has led to us opening two retail shops to date, one opened in November 2021 and the second opened in July 2022.
Our team in the United States has expanded to roughly 15 employees.
That created a 4th why, taking care of our wonderful team.
Some of things we attempt in life are doomed to failure.For example, I got it in my head a couple of years back that I'd like to learn the guitar. I imagined myself at parties wowing everybody with my guitar playing skills.
That why wasn't strong enough. I quit practicing after just a few months.
I found that I preferred to spend my time walking around promoting our chocolate shops and writing these emails. The stronger why won out.
Here is something that I am just now realizing. Fighting your whys is a losing battle.They're inside of you trying to push you in a direction.
To fight them means swimming against a strong current.However, to go with them means having tremendous force pushing you from behind.
You may run into some obstacles as you are being pushed long, but the strength of the push will take you around or through obstacles eventually.
A family business. Great business partners. A great team. Wonderful customers.
These are the forces that are pushing us along.
And where there is a strong why, there will always be a way!
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!