TotallyChocolate celebrates year in new facility

Published on Thu, Sep 20, 2007 by ack Kintner

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Totally Chocolate celebrates year in new facility

By Jack Kintner

Totally Chocolate marked a year in their new manufacturing facility last month with increased production that generated record payroll outlays.

Their busy season, in which they do 60 percent of their business in preparation for the holidays, is just beginning and to prepare they’re holding a job fair Thursday, September 20, from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Jeff Robinson, president of the company he brought north from Los Angeles 14 years ago, said that wages paid to employees with Blaine addresses exceeded $1.3 million, and wages to other Whatcom County residents added another $1.8 million.

“Based on the multiplier effect in which money injected into an economy gets used over and over as businesses pay employees and buy their own supplies, the $1.2 million created around $8 million in economic activity,” Robinson said.

The increase is due to a huge improvement in manufacturing capability provided by the new 60,000 square foot facility at 2025 Sweet Road. It combines 15,000 square feet of climate-controlled production space, 7,000 square feet of administrative offices and 38,000 square feet of warehouse and shipping space. 

As an example of what the increased space provides, Robinson pointed out how Totally Chocolate can bring technical support operations in house, unlike most other chocolate factories, by installing a digital printing system for rapid creation of  full-color custom box lids for its customers.

“You can’t scratch them and they’re dry the second they come off the press,” Robinson said.

They also have a high speed computer engraving system for mold design and a complete plastic injection molding department with which it makes its own styrene molds that, once used, are crushed and recycled back into the molding process.

The company’s niche is in being able to quickly and efficiently produce plastic molds with which they create a wide variety of promotional items out of fine Belgian chocolate, using both dark and milk chocolate varieties.

Many customers send them on to their own clients for the holiday season, leading to the intense fall production period.

Robinson said that he moved north in 1993 to find cooler weather, among other considerations. “Had we still been in Valencia it would have been difficult,” Robinson said, “because it is so much hotter we were air conditioning the whole plant. When Enron quadrupled the cost of electricity in California we’d have suffered.” 

In building and operating the new facility, the company used local contractors and suppliers whenever possible, Robinson continued, spending $1.2 million in Whatcom County since groundbreaking in early 2006 in addition to funds paid to the prime contractor Comsteel and the major subcontractors Able Electric and Andgar.

To handle the seasonal rush the company is recruiting actively to fill openings in its production, shipping, and graphics departments.

For more information or to apply for job openings, go on-line to www.totallychocolate.com/jobs, stop at 2025 Sweet Road, Blaine for an application, or phone 332-3900 x1501 to request one by mail.