About.com Candy Guide: How long did it take to go from making chocolate at home to opening the factory?
Art Pollard: Well, I had made chocolate for a number of years at home for my friends and family before I ever even started considering making chocolate professionally. Once we decided to begin selling chocolate on a larger scale, it became a whole different ballgame. The chocolate refiner that I had so carefully constructed was too small. Further, our goal has been to make some of the world's most incredible chocolate, and the chocolate refiner I had built simply did not have as much control as I wanted. Because of this we had to look to Europe to find the equipment we needed. Most of the equipment we wanted was difficult to find even in Europe, and my search took time.
I spent quite a bit of time tracking down machinery that would work not only for chocolate making but would also create the specific flavor profile that I was seeking. I would fly out to inspect it and sometimes even try it out. Once we found the appropriate machines, the job was just beginning. From there, we had to import the machinery, refurbish it, repaint it, hook up the electrical controls, and get it all up and running.
We also had to find a suitable building. This took a lot of work in itself because not every building was suitable, but once we found a building we consider to be "almost perfect,",we had to remodel and repaint it to get it ready. All in all, It made for lots and lots of work and many late nights. It was common to work a full day at the factory, then come home and spend time with my family. Once my kids were in bed, my business partner Clark, and I would meet back at the factory for several more hours of work.
So all in all, it took us about three years to track down the equipment we needed, refurbish the machinery and remodel our space. I doubt we could have done it in less time, as most of the time delays were outside of our control (such as needing to refurbish equipment that was supposed to have been in good working order when we bought it).
Read more interview questions:
- How did you first get interested in making chocolate?
- How did you learn to make chocolate?
- What is your factory like?
- How are you working to gain recognition for your company?
- What has been your biggest challenge in starting your own chocolate business?
- Do you have any advice for would-be candy entrepreneurs?
- What's on the horizon for Amano Chocolate?