Huggins’ New Job Combines Good Works, Great Chocolate

For Chip Huggins, 48, a new post as president and CEO of San Francisco Chocolate Co. combines two things about which he is passionate — chocolate and helping others.
San Francisco Chocolate Co. is fully owned by the California Autism Foundation and functions to generate income for and provide employment to people with developmental disabilities including autism.
Huggins, who spent 27 years with See’s Chocolate Company, including 14 years as general manager, and was President and CEO of Joseph Schmidt Confections before Hershey acquired it, has both the business and the social service credentials for the job.
 “The social aspect was very attractive to me,” says Huggins. “I have volunteered for over 22 years with handicapped and disabled people. This … brought together two worlds that I love — making chocolate and helping people in need,” continues Huggins, who lives in Redwood City, Calif., with his wife and three children.
His volunteer resume includes many years of service with the nonprofit organization Easter Seals and the Columbia Park Boys & Girls Clubs. In 2002, he was named Volunteer of the Year at the Volunteer Center of San Mateo County.
On the business operations side, the San Francisco Chocolate Co. can be expected to benefit from Huggins’ expertise with upscale confectionery products. He plans to upgrade San Francisco Chocolate Co.’s product mix from the current everyday offerings to more premium items.
“We’re focusing more on high-end chocolate — single-origin products, more dark items, and hand-crafted chocolate,” says Huggins. Retail clients include Whole Foods. In addition, the chocolate maker will be targeting other upscale grocery chains, department stores and specialty gourmet retailers.
San Francisco Chocolate Co.’s current annual sales are in excess of $1 million, and Huggins’ growth agenda calls for a 30 percent to 40 percent increase in 2007.  
To facilitate that objective, the company will move from its current candy-making facility in Oakland, Calif., to a new, state-of-the art plant located in Richmond, Calif., on the campus of the California Autism Foundation. The campus already is home to a school, the foundation’s administrative office and an adult daycare center.
Information on the company’s program of “social entrepre-neurship” is featured on packaging for the confectionery products. “We hope to be the Girl Scout cookies of the candy/chocolate industry,” says Huggins.
Names In The News
The National Confectioners Association has announced the addition of two new staff members.
Jenn Ellek has joined NCA as director of trade communications and marketing. Previously, Ellek managed the marketing efforts for the Pack Expo trade shows. Additionally, she has worked in consumer and business-to-business marketing and commun-ications capacities for both industry and nonprofit organizations.
Grace Concepcion is NCA’s exhibit manager for the All Candy Expo. She is responsible for selling and managing exhibitor booths for the show. Prior to joining NCA, Concepcion was the exhibits manager for the School Nutrition Association. She has nine years of experience in the event industry in a wide variety of roles including marketing, advertising and more.
Ten-year Topps veteran Brent Greer has been named vice president of sales – confectionery for the New York City-based company. He previously served as director of sales for Topps. Greer replaces Mike Murray, who left Topps to assume an executive post outside the candy industry.