“My girls love it,” Previte said, speaking of his daughter and his girlfriend and adding that, after he was hired, even his dad was delighted. “My father was so excited. He asked, ‘did you get any chocolate?’ “
And while candy making is serious business for a company that now sells to 65 countries, Zach Woodill, human relations director, does not underestimate the ability of his product to attract new workers, especially for a company built on the reputation of Niagara Chocolate.
“It’s fantastic for me when I’m recruiting. Everybody knows and loves the name,” he said.
Many adults he talks to have sold the company’s candybars as young people, for school or sports fundraisers, part of Niagara Chocolate community outreach program where non-profits keep half the proceeds of whatever they sell.
“Over the years we have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the community through that initiative,” said Kathy Bassininski, director of public relations for the company.
Beyond its commitment to the community, Bassininski says that its product quality that has created such customer loyalty, especially today under the leadership of third-generation owner Phillip Terranova, whose family created Niagara Chocolates in 1956 and who now leads SweetWorks.
“Phillip has never once blinked about using the best ingredients possible,” she said, describing the all-natural ingredients that go into making the chocolate, such as sugar, cocoa and vanilla.
During a recent walk through the plant, the aroma of melted chocolate made the air smell sweet while assembly lines of workers sorted and wrapped finished chocolate molds of turkeys, oranges and eggs in foil. It all felt a little like a scene from the movie “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
Production manager Jeff Geiger, who led the tour, says the company goes through about 9.5 million pounds of chocolate a year.