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about the sale of dagoba from freddy himself...

topic posted Wed, November 29, 2006 - 10:29 PM by  *chad*
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Hola amigos and amigas,

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the news; Dagoba is partnering with Artisan Confections, a subsidiary of Hersheys. I’d love to write each of you individually, yet feel we’re all close enough that I can consider it to each of you personally.

Some background on this chapter of Dagoba;

Hershey’s first approached us about 1.5 years ago and put an offer on the table; we were just 3.5 years old at that time. While it was very flattering, it wasn’t time yet. I felt I still had things to do, to prove to myself, before I could ‘hand it off’, so to say. Being only 3.5 years into the business, I was still very green in what I was trying to do, or at least what I thought I was trying to do. Often times, we as visionaries have a clear vision of what it is we want ‘out there’, the end result, yet have no frickin’ clue on how to get there. Me, like you, have no idea what day it is, what time it is, what the date is and truly really don’t care. It’s all about just making it happen. The creative process. I think this is what I was going thru and having a blast doing it. A lot of those things had to simply do, on retrospect, with personal growth and nothing to do with the company at all. Yet, with the power of intention, positive results continued as the vision kept solidifying and crystallizing. And I matured into the vision I had when I first started the company 5 years ago. As we all know, it’s pretty amazing what good intention, a good product, hard work and a lot of fun can create.

The offer stayed on the table.

As you, we’ve been approached almost every week by other large companies, investment groups and everything in between. I listened to most of them, but always listened to my heart above all. We spoke to other big chocolate companies; all of which really didn’t get what we, Dagoba, are about. We’re a quirky chocolate company run by a bunch of Oregon tree huggers that likes to do what we like to do regardless of what ‘they’ think. I know you all can relate. Everyone says they can relate, yet I don’t know if they really can. Yet, it’s different when someone says we want to learn how to relate.

Over the last year and a half, we’ve grown incredibly and I’ve learned a considerable amount about, not only myself, but of industry; in particular the natural and the cacao industry. Two industries that I have grown very passionate about.

We’ve been pretty much internally funded since day one, as a family owned business. I’ve had the blessed experience to work side by side with my father, mother and sister. Oddly enough, a lot of you also work with family. you can relate to that very special and sacred space which that unspeakable relation exists. Very special indeed. As we’ve grown to the point we are now, we had to make a change with money. We could no longer be internally funded. Our raw material costs were just getting too high and as you start to work deeper and deeper into and with source, it takes all that much longer to get the ROI to keep the cash flow flowing. After talking to equity investors, it was clear to me that this was not a route I wanted to take; even working with the great people of our industry as investors, it just didn’t feel right. I knew that we either had to remain 100% family owned or to sell 100%.

The offer stayed on the table.

The last 6 months has been a game of ping-pong; probably not as good as Steven’s game, but pretty good. One day it was a go. The next I would call it off. This went on for 6 months. Yes, no, yes, no, yes, no. Two weeks ago I gave a final, “yes”. They needed the signed docs back to HQ in Hershey last Wednesday. I called them Wednesday morning and told them the deal was off. I couldn’t do it. I called them back 3 hours later and told them I needed one more night to sleep on it. I went home and sat. Candle light and no music. I had to clear all the noise out of my head. all the thoughts of “what are my friends going to think of me if I sell, how are my employees going to react, how is Dagoba going to be perceived now….” all these thoughts that really had their source from outside me. It ultimately all came down to the original intention I had with the company. That seed I planted 5 years ago and that has been nurtured over the last 5 years by me, my employees and also you all. it came down to influencing larger industry (namely the cocoa industry) and also improving cocoa farmer welfare; all the while making the best chocolate in the world. I awoke Thursday morning and it was clear. if I am to truly have maximum impact on cocoa farmers and continue to influence the cocoa industry, joining the nations largest chocolate company is the right move. I called them Thursday morning and said yesHola amigos and amigas,

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the news; Dagoba is partnering with Artisan Confections, a subsidiary of Hersheys. I’d love to write each of you individually, yet feel we’re all close enough that I can consider it to each of you personally.

Some background on this chapter of Dagoba;

Hershey’s first approached us about 1.5 years ago and put an offer on the table; we were just 3.5 years old at that time. While it was very flattering, it wasn’t time yet. I felt I still had things to do, to prove to myself, before I could ‘hand it off’, so to say. Being only 3.5 years into the business, I was still very green in what I was trying to do, or at least what I thought I was trying to do. Often times, we as visionaries have a clear vision of what it is we want ‘out there’, the end result, yet have no frickin’ clue on how to get there. Me, like you, have no idea what day it is, what time it is, what the date is and truly really don’t care. It’s all about just making it happen. The creative process. I think this is what I was going thru and having a blast doing it. A lot of those things had to simply do, on retrospect, with personal growth and nothing to do with the company at all. Yet, with the power of intention, positive results continued as the vision kept solidifying and crystallizing. And I matured into the vision I had when I first started the company 5 years ago. As we all know, it’s pretty amazing what good intention, a good product, hard work and a lot of fun can create.

The offer stayed on the table.

As you, we’ve been approached almost every week by other large companies, investment groups and everything in between. I listened to most of them, but always listened to my heart above all. We spoke to other big chocolate companies; all of which really didn’t get what we, Dagoba, are about. We’re a quirky chocolate company run by a bunch of Oregon tree huggers that likes to do what we like to do regardless of what ‘they’ think. I know you all can relate. Everyone says they can relate, yet I don’t know if they really can. Yet, it’s different when someone says we want to learn how to relate.

Over the last year and a half, we’ve grown incredibly and I’ve learned a considerable amount about, not only myself, but of industry; in particular the natural and the cacao industry. Two industries that I have grown very passionate about.

We’ve been pretty much internally funded since day one, as a family owned business. I’ve had the blessed experience to work side by side with my father, mother and sister. Oddly enough, a lot of you also work with family. you can relate to that very special and sacred space which that unspeakable relation exists. Very special indeed. As we’ve grown to the point we are now, we had to make a change with money. We could no longer be internally funded. Our raw material costs were just getting too high and as you start to work deeper and deeper into and with source, it takes all that much longer to get the ROI to keep the cash flow flowing. After talking to equity investors, it was clear to me that this was not a route I wanted to take; even working with the great people of our industry as investors, it just didn’t feel right. I knew that we either had to remain 100% family owned or to sell 100%.

The offer stayed on the table.

The last 6 months has been a game of ping-pong; probably not as good as Steven’s game, but pretty good. One day it was a go. The next I would call it off. This went on for 6 months. Yes, no, yes, no, yes, no. Two weeks ago I gave a final, “yes”. They needed the signed docs back to HQ in Hershey last Wednesday. I called them Wednesday morning and told them the deal was off. I couldn’t do it. I called them back 3 hours later and told them I needed one more night to sleep on it. I went home and sat. Candle light and no music. I had to clear all the noise out of my head. all the thoughts of “what are my friends going to think of me if I sell, how are my employees going to react, how is Dagoba going to be perceived now….” all these thoughts that really had their source from outside me. It ultimately all came down to the original intention I had with the company. That seed I planted 5 years ago and that has been nurtured over the last 5 years by me, my employees and also you all. it came down to influencing larger industry (namely the cocoa industry) and also improving cocoa farmer welfare; all the while making the best chocolate in the world. I awoke Thursday morning and it was clear. if I am to truly have maximum impact on cocoa farmers and continue to influence the cocoa industry, joining the nations largest chocolate company is the right move. I called them Thursday morning and said yes.

Many people’s perception of Hershey’s is that of their chocolate bar; that iconic brown bar with the bold silver logo. Yet, the history of the company is remarkable. Milton Hershey was a true visionary, not unlike all of us. In 1928 (ish) he put his fortune of $60M into a trust to support the Hershey School, a school for underprivileged children he started with his wife some years earlier, as they themselves, couldn’t have children. This school still exists today, offering room, board, education, medical, clothing and everything a child needs to live. This trust actually controls the voting share of the corporation. I felt that this was the appropriate company to nurture our greater mission of sustainability and social responsibility; because social responsibility is what Hershey’s, believe it or not, was built on.

So, what’s in store for Dagoba now? Well, fore the most part, nothing is going to change. Dagoba will remain in Ashland doing what we’ve always done. All the employees, as long as they want to stay, will still be there. we’ll still be able to wear whatever we want to wear to work. I’ll still be in charge of sourcing the cacao and formulating new products. We’ll still be using 100% recycled New Leaf Paper for our wrappers. We’ll still be using renewable energy for our factory. we’ll still be able to do the tradeshows as we want, when we want. We will have manufacturing support from a company that has been making chocolate for almost 100 years, which will be very nice! for those of you who do your own manufacturing, you know that it’s not always the easiest thing. yet it’s fun to walk back there and see all this equipment and hear the noises… I love it!

For those of you who may be thinking – freddy is dreaming if he thinks nothing is going to change – I will offer this insight. when I went to Hershey last year for a factory tour, I was totally taken aback when I walked into the conching room. there, before me, were about 20 granite bed longitudinal conches that were probably 60-80 years old. these are the machines that all the “new” artisan chocolate makers are using. yet Hersheys still uses them! so, I ask these guys why they still use them as they are extremely inefficient (but really, really cool machines!). they answered that Milton Hershey used them to make the dark chocolate and if they were to change the machinery, it would change the flavor of the chocolate and they can’t do that. I was impressed. yes, a change of flavor would probably be a good thing, yet I was impressed that they held true to the heritage. Also, Scharffenberger, an artisan chocolate maker in San Francisco, was purchased by Artisan Confections last year. I’ve always had great respect for Scharffenberger, as they truly make great, great chocolate. I’ve been in touch with them to find out what kind of changes Hershey’s did to them after the acquisition. The only changes were new computers, better benefits and more of the exact same artisan equipment that they already use. Today I had a new bar by Scharffenberger and I can honestly say it is probably one of the best chocolate bars I have ever had. honestly. so obviously H isn’t’ meddling around in their business that much. I know what Scharffenberger pays for their cocoa beans…. they ain’t cheap!!!

bottom line with the above statements, to answer your question of how we’re going to change – I really don’t foresee you’ll notice anything. I still want us to do what we’ve always done with each other. I’ve told H straight up about our inter-industry relationships and they are sacred to me. they support it. they support what we’re doing… what we’re all doing together. and quite honestly, they want to learn from us; and I’m not going to turn away people who want to learn. our passion and knowledge must be shared and passed on. isn’t this what we want?

I ask that you all continue to keep an open heart for us. I feel this was the right move to continue to make the impact I want to make. and I still see all of us as being – as Eric put it in an email to me today – as the pioneers in what we do. we are leading the way. we will continue to lead the way. all of our paths will continue to bring us where it brings us and I want you all to know you have my support in all your directions. I’m not going anywhere. I’m still here, doing what I do.

I love you all dearly. you are my family and you’ve helped me grow to who and where I am now. thank you for this. from the core of me, I thank you.

your friend and brother in arms,

Frederick

ps – please feel free to pass this along to anyone you think needs it or if I forgot anyone in the email list.


Many people’s perception of Hershey’s is that of their chocolate bar; that iconic brown bar with the bold silver logo. Yet, the history of the company is remarkable. Milton Hershey was a true visionary, not unlike all of us. In 1928 (ish) he put his fortune of $60M into a trust to support the Hershey School, a school for underprivileged children he started with his wife some years earlier, as they themselves, couldn’t have children. This school still exists today, offering room, board, education, medical, clothing and everything a child needs to live. This trust actually controls the voting share of the corporation. I felt that this was the appropriate company to nurture our greater mission of sustainability and social responsibility; because social responsibility is what Hershey’s, believe it or not, was built on.

So, what’s in store for Dagoba now? Well, fore the most part, nothing is going to change. Dagoba will remain in Ashland doing what we’ve always done. All the employees, as long as they want to stay, will still be there. we’ll still be able to wear whatever we want to wear to work. I’ll still be in charge of sourcing the cacao and formulating new products. We’ll still be using 100% recycled New Leaf Paper for our wrappers. We’ll still be using renewable energy for our factory. we’ll still be able to do the tradeshows as we want, when we want. We will have manufacturing support from a company that has been making chocolate for almost 100 years, which will be very nice! for those of you who do your own manufacturing, you know that it’s not always the easiest thing. yet it’s fun to walk back there and see all this equipment and hear the noises… I love it!

For those of you who may be thinking – freddy is dreaming if he thinks nothing is going to change – I will offer this insight. when I went to Hershey last year for a factory tour, I was totally taken aback when I walked into the conching room. there, before me, were about 20 granite bed longitudinal conches that were probably 60-80 years old. these are the machines that all the “new” artisan chocolate makers are using. yet Hersheys still uses them! so, I ask these guys why they still use them as they are extremely inefficient (but really, really cool machines!). they answered that Milton Hershey used them to make the dark chocolate and if they were to change the machinery, it would change the flavor of the chocolate and they can’t do that. I was impressed. yes, a change of flavor would probably be a good thing, yet I was impressed that they held true to the heritage. Also, Scharffenberger, an artisan chocolate maker in San Francisco, was purchased by Artisan Confections last year. I’ve always had great respect for Scharffenberger, as they truly make great, great chocolate. I’ve been in touch with them to find out what kind of changes Hershey’s did to them after the acquisition. The only changes were new computers, better benefits and more of the exact same artisan equipment that they already use. Today I had a new bar by Scharffenberger and I can honestly say it is probably one of the best chocolate bars I have ever had. honestly. so obviously H isn’t’ meddling around in their business that much. I know what Scharffenberger pays for their cocoa beans…. they ain’t cheap!!!

bottom line with the above statements, to answer your question of how we’re going to change – I really don’t foresee you’ll notice anything. I still want us to do what we’ve always done with each other. I’ve told H straight up about our inter-industry relationships and they are sacred to me. they support it. they support what we’re doing… what we’re all doing together. and quite honestly, they want to learn from us; and I’m not going to turn away people who want to learn. our passion and knowledge must be shared and passed on. isn’t this what we want?

I ask that you all continue to keep an open heart for us. I feel this was the right move to continue to make the impact I want to make. and I still see all of us as being – as Eric put it in an email to me today – as the pioneers in what we do. we are leading the way. we will continue to lead the way. all of our paths will continue to bring us where it brings us and I want you all to know you have my support in all your directions. I’m not going anywhere. I’m still here, doing what I do.

I love you all dearly. you are my family and you’ve helped me grow to who and where I am now. thank you for this. from the core of me, I thank you.

your friend and brother in arms,

Frederick


ps – please feel free to pass this along to anyone you think needs it or if I forgot anyone in the email list.
posted by:
*chad*
Oregon
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    offline 496

    Re: about the sale of dagoba from freddy himself...

    Wed, December 27, 2006 - 11:47 PM
    I don't care what he says!

    Hershey's chocolate SUCKS. their dark chocolate tastes like sugar with a little bit of chocolate. pure crap.

    Dagoba can do what ever they want-its a free country-and as long as they still make the exact SAME soy free-dairy free chocolate bar, I'm happy.

    but lets call a spade a spade here: hershey chocolate is the bottom of the barrel.
    • agreed. hershey's and dagoba aren't even in the same state as far as quality and taste.

      but the process of dogoba will not change! think of how much hershey's will learn from dagoba. and freddy is now working of forest restoration and helping the farmers and families that provide dagoba their cacao.

      go freddy go!!
      • I buy Dagoba bars locally ... love them ,,,

        Was troubled to hear he/they sold out ...
        I understand the motivation to do such ... sure ...

        Hersheys is in this very state I sit in now and .. their chocolate is pure shit ...
        You all know that ...
        At least they're trying to do something different ... yeah .. nod ...

        Lah dee dah ...

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