By Terrence Synnott in Newport Daily News, Business Section B.
Posted on March 6 and 7, 2004.
Ed Patterson’s $300 investment launched a Portsmouth-based chocolate company that stands to do $160,000 in sales in its first year in business.
PORTSMOUTH — When Ed Patterson looked into starting his own chocolate company, one of the first decisions he made was not to operate a retail store.
Instead, the former financial advisor decided to focus his attention on an area less saturated with competition and shifted his emphasis to the custom packaging of chocolates.
The Portsmouth-based Patterson Family Chocolates, which Patterson started last year with an investment of $300, offers gourmet truffles on imprinted boxes for businesses, professionals and other organizations to use for promotional purposes.
For Patterson, it’s a business model based on the promotion of positive associations and good impressions.
“We really want to make the customer be the hero to their clients,” the 34-year-old Middletown resident said. “We’re not here to promote us. We’re here to promote them: It’s all about creating a high-end association.”
When customers order from Patterson’s company, they get the creative license to customize their boxes in regard to the choice of the chocolates, color of the box and use of their logo. The chocolates also can be ordered for party favors, thank-you gifts, weddings, anniversaries and other special events.
“We have a turnkey process that allows the customer to order from us in a very easy way,” he said.
Patterson works with a couple of different suppliers to produce his chocolates, which he describes as “four or five grades above Godiva.” They come in different shades, flavors and sizes.
Initial orders take about three weeks to fill to accommodate the set-up times involved in the customized packaging, while repeat orders require about five business days.
To date, his company has filled more than 50 orders, including his former employer, Merrill Lynch, as well as Edwards & Angell, State Street Research, Vanderbilt Hall, Newport County Chamber of Commerce and the Newport County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Although it’s only March, he said, his company is on track to meet its goal of doing $160,000 in sales this year.
One of the company’s newest features is a Chocolate of the Month Club, which gives customers a 16-piece box of chocolates in a different flavor each month for $19.75 a month.
Patterson said the idea for the business dates back a couple of years, but when he was laid off from a job last year, that motivated him to get the company started.
Within an initial investment of $300, he ordered some bags, had some brochures printed up, bought some mini-truffles and went into business.
He also worked with the Newport County Chamber of Commerce to develop a business plan and recently secured a loan to expand his company. He said he plans to use the loan to prepare additional promotional materials and make an update to the company’s Web site, www.pattersonfamilychocolates.com.
Patterson said he’s marketing his products in the Boston area and plans to move into the New York/New Jersey area by the end of the year.
“Then we’re going to go national from there,” he said. “My goal would be to do the Grammy’s and the Oscars.”
Ed Patterson of Portsmouth, a former financial adviser, heads Patterson Family Chocolates. The company is currently marketing its products in Boston and will soon expand to New York and New Jersey.