Hello and good day!
I haven't thought about this in a while, but as of late, we are a much more American centric company.
It used to be that we did the majority of our business overseas.
For many years, our biggest clients were in Switzerland, Austria, Australia, Germany, and Dubai. Brian was busy running our cacao buying operation in Peru and I did almost all of our accounting and logistics work. That left my dad to do much of the traveling overseas to visit clients.
But one year, my brother Brian got to do an amazing tour of Europe to visit clients and I remember hearing the stories about that. The way it came about was quite interesting.
Every year, we used to take clients to our operation in Peru to meet cacao farmers and see how we process cacao. We need to figure out how to start that back up again now that the pandemic is over. That would be a good thing for us to figure out, but I digress.
Two of our biggest clients at that time were in Austria and Germany. One year, the Austrian and German clients came down together.
Particularly special was what happened with our Austrian client.
The group was out touring Don Fortunato's farm, the cacao farmer our company is named after. They had all stopped in front of the mother tree. The picture is of the mother tree.
The picture is of the tree that was a 100% genetic match for pure Nacional cacao. It is a special and important tree because pure Nacional cacao was thought to have been wiped out by disease in the early 1900s.
The mother tree is the tree we use to propagate clones in our clone nursery.
When cacao farmers want to start selling to us, they can get mother tree clones from our nursery for free. 2-3 years later when the tree becomes productive, they can sell to us at ten times FairTrade premiums and that cacao will end up in our chocolate.
But I digress.
Brian left the group looking at the mother tree while he went to the farmhouse to ask about the plans for lunch.While in the farmhouse, Brian heard applause and hoorays.
He went running back out there to see what he had missed, and got there in time to see our Austrian client and his fiancé in a warm embrace. He'd proposed marriage to his fiance in front of the mother tree.
Pretty cool. Anyhow, the client insisted that Brian come to the wedding.
My dad, Dan, thought it would be a great idea and Brian made plans to take a European tour to meet clients and visit our manufacturer, Max Felchlin AG, in Switzerland.
At that time, Brian had been heads down buying and processing cacao for maybe 6-7 years. We'd been making chocolate at Felchlin for most of that time and Brian had become something of a folk hero at Felchlin for the quality of cacao that he sent.
Both the genetic variety and the post harvest processing were among the best that our partners in Switzerland had ever seen. When Brian showed up in Schwyz, Switzerland, they rolled out the red carpet and gave him a hero's welcome.
It was such a special experience and Schwyz is an idyllic Swiss city up in the alps and there are stunning views of rivers, mountains, and milk cows from windows all around the factory.
The wedding in Austria was a huge party and the groom, our client, asked Brian to stand up during an after dinner speech. Brian was treated like a guest of honor in the wedding as well.
One thing that Brian really liked about Europe was that even though he was a foreigner, he didn't look different and was able to blend in. In Peru, we obviously stand out quite a bit.
One of the other great things was being able to take pictures back out to campo and show our cacao farm partners where their cacao was ending up. That has always been one of the amazing benefits of our project, connecting folks from wildly different places in the world.
And beyond the economic benefits, our cacao farm partners have always said that being able to meet and interact with people from other places has been a true blessing.
Of course, if you travel around a bit, you come to realize that people truly are the same everywhere.Once you get past skin color and some cultural norms, the fundamentals are the same.
Folks get married and have wild parties in the northern Peruvian jungle, just the same as they do in Austria.
In fact, in that regard, you could probably argue that as it pertains to weddings, Peruvians and Austrians have much more in common with each other than either do with Americans.
I probably shouldn to say it, but Americans have relatively boring weddings.
People in other countries come to dance, and participate in revelry. Most American weddings I've seen, and I've seen a lot, I used to work as a banquet waiter, are pretty tame. Everybody is so shy about dancing and letting loose.
Anyhow, I remember how much Brian enjoyed that experience.
Now we need to get some cacao farmers over to Europe. We were going to work on that, but the pandemic hit. We need to pick it back up. Also, we've been thinking about doing virtual tours of some cacao farms now that the harvest is in full swing. We had a customer reach out to us and offer to run the technology.
It is on the list!
Thank you so much for your time today. And don't forget to get up and lead the way in the dancing at the next wedding you attend!
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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