Raised in chocolate and trained in finance, Mark Edwards has evolved a family tradition into a high-growth confectionery enterprise, working with his siblings to capitalize on high-profile connections and artisan skills.

The Edwards family has been a part of Pittsburgh’s confectionery history since their great-grandparents Charlie and Oriana founded the 96-year-old chocolate/ice cream parlor business in 1914. Today, the family-owned and-operated company, now known as Edward Marc Chocolatier, has seen extraordinary growth under the stewardship of fourth-generation chocolatier and chief financial officer, Mark Edwards.

After graduating with his degree in finance from Virginia Tech, Mark moved to Washington, D.C., where he, his brother, Christian, and sister, Dana, all worked together organizing events for the President and First Lady Bush. In 2006, Mark came back to his roots in Pittsburgh to run the family business and oversee both the Edward Marc Chocolatier and The Milk Shake Factory (the ice cream parlor) brands.

His background in politics and finance has offered strategic growth as Edward Marc moved from being a small regional business to a larger national corporation. The company recently was awarded a Department of Defense contract to open its newest retail location inside the Pentagon, which serves the nearly 30,000 people who work there daily.

Last year, sales jumped by 47%, with annual chocolate output exceeding 250,000 lbs. annually. The company provides gourmet chocolates for members of Congress, ambassadors, the State Department and the White House.

Both Edward Marc Chocolatier, headquartered in Trafford, Pa., and The Milk Shake Factory on Pittsburgh’s South Side have been actively involved with philanthropic efforts in the community through their One Sweet Gesture initiative. They currently partner with The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Western Pennsylvania, The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, the Wounded Warrior Project and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

What did you think you would be when you grew up?
Real estate mogul, the president or Santa. I always had high expectations.  

Name one or some of your favorite movies.
“Liar Liar,” “Willy Wonka “(the original, of course) and “Swiss Family Robinson.”  

Describe your perfect dream vacation.
An around-the-world sailing trip with just my wife.  

What book are you currently reading?
Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership” by Laurie Beth Jones.  

Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island? “Survivorman’s” Les Stroud.  

What's your pet peeve?

I'd give anything to meet:
My great-grandchildren.  

The best piece of advice that I've gotten: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!” - Dori from “Finding Nemo” - and “Never go to bed mad.” - George George, my grandfather.  

What excites you most about your job?
My staff. I have the best crew that anyone could ever wish for. And the lifetime supply of chocolate isn’t so bad either.