In a region well known for its craft beer and craft bourbon, there’s a popular craft chocolate business that’s producing award-winning products in Cincinnati.
The Maverick Chocolate Company, founded by Paul Picton six years ago, takes a lot of pride in their chocolate and it doesn’t take long to understand that’s thanks in part to the passion behind the business. We asked Picton to join us on the podcast to learn more about how someone gets started in the craft chocolate world, especially after working for years at GE selling jet engines as he did, and how you overcome all of the challenges of COVID.
It had been a successful start to the business for Maverick but that all changed when the coronavirus appeared 2020. In early March he began realizing things were getting serious, but on March 17, things took a turn. The governor began shutting things down and Paul made the tough decision to lay off his staff, all of which is family. They transitioned quickly to curbside pickup with him and his wife doing the work, but sales still dropped 85% in March.
He acted swiftly to take advantage of the PPP loan when it was offered and soon after made the shift to online sales. It’s been a year of pivoting and finding ways to ride out the lack of demand. A big part of that has been embracing the challenges by making key changes to cashflow management and marketing.
As you’ll hear, cash flow is one of the keys takeaways he’ll carry on from this experience. He’s already looking through his expenses, re-negotiating terms of his previous agreements, and making plans to budget more aggressively. The good news is the business is ramping back up to prepare for a busy holiday season and there’s optimism that demand could be very high after everything we’ve been through.
We’ll dive into all of these topics and learn more about the experience for Picton and his family in 2020 during this conversation. As you go through the episode today, keep an ear out for some of these topics that we cover:
- His passion for chocolate.
- How he came to find the craft chocolate business.
- The steps they took immediately when the pandemic hit.
- Building a customer database.
- What type of marketing are they doing during pandemic.
- What has he learned that will make the business stronger?
- How he’s prioritizing cash flow in his operation.
Hopefully both of his locations at Findlay Market and Rookwood Commons both open again soon along with those wonderful free tours they offer anyone that wants to see how they turn beans into a blissful treat. hanks for joining us for the show.
On Today’s Show
[1:15] – Interview begins with background on Maverick.
[2:06] – Have there been any supply issues?
[2:54] – Paul’s story about selling jet engines before chocolate.
[4:48] – The craft chocolate business
[7:12] – The moment the seriousness of the pandemic hit.
[12:21] – Building his customer database.
[15:15] – Online vs in-store sales
[19:41] – How much advertising are they doing now?
[23:22] – Why cash flow will be the focus moving forward.
[31:24] – Final thoughts about the future of his operation.