Before they were crafting quality chocolates, Jason was a farmer and his wife, Mary, was the director of a group home for handicapped children. Jason also worked occasionally for his brother, Mark, the owner of a small distributing business.
As Jason’s brother’s business began to grow and expand, Jason approached Mark and they discussed possible opportunities for Jason and Mary to also grow a business and they agreed to enter into a partnership. Their first choice was a furniture store but after that door closed, the idea of making chocolate candy was brought to the table.
One of the items Mark offered through his wholesale service was wrapped chocolates but the quality of the chocolate and the chocolate company’s inability to provide a consistent supply stream birthed the idea for Jason and Mary to become chocolatiers.
They purchased a private residence in Walnut Creek, lived upstairs and used the main floor as a production area and retail store as they began the process of building a business of their own.
Launching a chocolate company meant networking with other chocolatiers; seeking out their advice and learning from them. Many of those chocolatiers were instrumental in the success of Coblentz Chocolates, welcoming Jason and Mary into the business, sharing contacts, and offering advice based on their own successes and failures. Some of those mentors remain good friends with Jason and Mary today. One of those conversations led them to their current provider of quality chocolate – a company that has consistently provided high quality chocolate for thirty-four years.
Jason and Mary also became affiliated with Retail Confectioners International, attending their conventions and going to weeks of training. Membership with RCI continues to be a valuable resource through their continuing educational programs, conventions, and visits to members’ candy kitchens as well as retail stores.
One of their first employees was Mary Yoder. Mary was well-known in the local area for her homemade candy-making skills. One skill that was very beneficial to the Coblentz’s was her ability to make chocolate centers and hand-dipping chocolates. She started working for Jason and Mary and was very involved in getting their business off and running.
They opened their doors on a Friday, with thirty varieties of chocolates and by Saturday evening they were sold out, leaving them wondering “Now what will we do?” Their only option was to order chocolates from a supplier, open their store on Monday and work to make more of their own chocolates as quickly as possible. To keep up with demand, they quickly added an additional five people to their original staff of three. While they offered other items in the store, it soon became evident to Jason and Mary that people were coming to their store for chocolates.
One year after opening they welcomed their first child to their family.
When they opened Coblentz Chocolate Company they were unsure what the future held for them. Could they support a family and make a good living selling chocolates in the small town of Walnut Creek? Unfortunately, the first five years were not profitable. Jason continued working with his father on the farm while occasionally driving a wholesale delivery route for his brother, Mark. The first years held a great deal of uncertainty for the Coblentz family but they didn’t give up.
The first five years Jason’s wife Mary worked in the business almost every day, assisting with production and sales. Those were busy and challenging years for their growing family.
Without efficient equipment used by most chocolatiers, they hand-dipped their chocolates until they were able to purchase their first enrobing machine which enabled them to increase production. Customer favorites continue to be peanut clusters and chocolate covered caramels, both of which must be covered in chocolate as well as their cream-filled chocolates. Other items they have added over the years are their sea salt caramels, and Meltaways.
After being in business for approximately ten years, an Amish neighbor lady came to the store one day and brought some homemade toffee, saying “You should try this. If you like it, I’ll give you the recipe.” Her toffee was fantastic and they decided immediately to add it to their lineup. They began with Milk Chocolate English Toffee and over the years have added Dark Chocolate English Toffee and Milk and Dark English Toffee with Sea Salt. Jason says, “We still use Arlene Shetler’s toffee recipe to this day. It continues to be a best-seller.”
The last twenty years have brought many changes to Coblentz Chocolate Company as Jason recounts all the seasons of growth: “We doubled the size of the retail store. We had two enrobers going every day. We had three gas-fired copper kettle cookers going every day. In 2013 we expanded the upstairs area and moved our offices to the top floor.
Jason continues, “Our business was growing but I recall one of my hardest days in business was one Christmas when we received a very large order from a local company and I personally had to go meet with them and explain that we would not be able to fill their order.”
Jason explains that over the years he has had to learn to plan and strategize. The wholesale business began growing so quickly in 2015 he knew they needed to find more space for production. In 2017 they moved to a temporary leased space but in 2019 they built a new production facility, enabling them to continue growing their wholesale business. They now ship everywhere in the United States. With a sales manager and 120 sales reps across the United States they sell through brokers, two distributors, and direct to other businesses, including the well-known Schmidt’s Fudge House in Columbus, Ohio.
Coblentz Chocolate Company began in 1987 with three employees. They now employ 115 people and they are looking for five or six more employees. Their busy times are Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day.
Everyone can immediately think of their favorites but the biggest sellers at CCC are the Deluxe Assortment Gift Box and the online feature of Creating-Your-Own gift box for the holidays, followed closely by the popular chocolate-covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Sweetest Day and Peanut Butter Filled Eggs for Easter.
Speaking of the future of CCC, Jason says, “We will need to expand our retail store. We are out of room.” And his greatest joy? “I enjoy seeing managers and supervisors develop as they spend time with us. We are in the business of developing people.”
The Coblentz Chocolate Company Mission Statement is:
“To create artisan and quality confections with optimal safety measures for chocolate lovers, by chocolate lovers.
And their Vision Statement says:
“We value stewardship, creativity, community, craftsmanship and efficiency.”
The next time you are in Walnut Creek, Ohio, be sure to stop in at Coblentz Chocolate Company. Jason and Mary and their employees have prepared a delightful chocolate experience for you to enjoy.
Coblentz Chocolates is located at 4977 Walnut Street, Walnut Creek, Ohio 44687
You can order online at www.CoblentzChocolates.com
Their store hours are:
9am to 5:30pm - July through October
9am to 5:00pm - November through June
Written By Vicki VanNatta