Sachem Patch has rolled out an informative feature whereby we highlight an independent business operating in the Sachem Community. This week, we put Chocolate By Design, located at 700-4 Union Parkway in Ronkonkoma, in the hot seat.
Patch: Tell us a little about your background.
CBD: I grew up on the Island in Baldwin were I graduated high school in 1970. I attended undergraduate and graduate school at SUNY Albany earning degrees in business and marketing. While there, I met my wife, Ellen. She earned a degree in studio art. Something which would become very useful later on.
Patch: How many years have you been involved in this type of business?
CBD: My aunt owned a chocolate factory, Sheila Kaye Candies, in Brooklyn. I joined her business in 1976. We specialized in hand-dipped chocolates and baked goods and sold to Bloomingdales and other fine chocolate shops mainly in the NY metro area.
Patch: What motivated you to become a chocolatier?
CBD: I felt motivated to start my own chocolate business. I left my aunt’s business in 1979 and started Chocolate By Design on Route 110 in Farmingdale. We began as a wholesale operation, manufacturing a line of unique chocolate novelties as well as corporate and custom molded goods. We marketed to specialty gift, gourmet and chocolate shops around the country.
Patch: What opportunities did moving to Ronkonkoma provide you?
CBD: Ellen joined the business in 1983 after the birth of our son.. As business grew we found ourselves in need of more space. We found the perfect location in Ronkonkoma which was not far from our home. We began operating in our new facility in 1990. Our new location provided the opportunity to expand into retail as well. In addition to marketing products that we produced we added candy and cake making supplies as well. From our inception we have been committed to producing and marketing products of the finest quality while providing our customers with a really good value. We are very grateful for the continued support we have received from the community.
Patch: Is it challenging to run a family business?
CBD: People often ask Ellen and me how we have survived 35 years of marriage working so closely together. We have the perfect division of labor. I run the factory and production and Ellen manages the office, handles the internet end of the business and designs our gourmet gift basket and chocolate platters.
Patch: Since you've been in business so long, you must have seen how technology has changed the landscape of what you do.
CBD: The business environment has changed greatly from when we first began. We have seen many of the retail stores that we supplied for many years close their doors unable to compete with the big box stores We needed to do something in the changing economy if we were to remain strong and grow. Fortunately the internet provided us with just such an opportunity. We were now able to sell through our web-site the same goods enjoyed by our local customers to customers all over the country.
Patch: What is unique about your chocolate?
CBD: We now offer a huge selection of chocolate party favors for Weddings, Sweet 16’s, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Communions, Birthdays, etc. The unique aspect of our favors is the high quality chocolate as well as the personalized ribbon that accompanies each chocolate. It is very gratifying to receive daily e-mails from customers as to how pleased they were with the product and service.
Patch: Anything else you might like to add, that we didn't ask?
CBD: We could not have gotten to this point in time without the dedication and hard work of our wonderful staff of employees. We are more like an extended family. The days are filled with fun and laughter as one would expect working in a chocolate factory.
*Chocolate By Design is a member of the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce.