Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory History
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is an international franchisor, confectionery manufacturer and retail operator in the United States, Philippines, Panama, and South Korea. The Company is based in the charming historical town of Durango located on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Colorado. From its 53,000 square foot factory, the Company manufactures an extensive line of premium chocolate candies and other confectionery products to supply its many franchise locations, delivered fresh by its fleet of refrigerated trucks.
The factory typically produces approximately 300 chocolate candies and other confectionery products, using proprietary recipes developed primarily by its master candy maker. These products include many varieties of clusters, caramels, creams, meltaways, truffles and molded chocolates. Individual stores prepare a variety of caramel and candy apples, fudge, chocolate items and confections in full view of the customer using traditional cooking utensils such as copper kettles on gas-fired stoves and marble slab cooling tables.
In 1985 the Company went public and is now traded on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol "RMCF".
One Man's Dream Makes for Smiles and a Sweet Opportunity
Frank Crail had a dream to raise a family in a quiet, small town environment. Not having a plan to support his dream in Durango, Colorado, the quaint Victorian-era town in which they had chosen to settle, he began surveying the town's local residents and merchants. "It came down to either a car wash or a chocolate shop," recalls the father of seven. "I think I made the right choice." Today, a shop still stands on Main Street, with its sights and smells tempting tourists and locals alike to experience a cornucopia of chocolatey treats before a breath-taking ride on the scenic Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad or after a half-day white water rafting trip through town. Twenty one years later, from that tiny shop downtown emerged the need for a 53,000 square foot factory located on the town's outskirts, built to supply hundreds of franchised stores throughout the United States and the world. What is the recipe that has driven the company to success over the years?
Quality Products, Quality People
“The number one factor is the quality of the product,” says President and CEO Crail. “Without that customers aren’t going to stay around long.”
As a testament, Crail proudly points to a page from Money magazine mounted on his office wall which features Rocky Mountain Chocolate winning the coveted 3-heart rating in a blind taste test. The candy maker’s chocolate beat out See’s Candies, Perugina, Teuscher, Godiva and Fanny May for the “richest chocolate, with intense natural flavor.”
“We also have a great marketing advantage with our unique in-store candy making demonstrations,” Crail adds. “Customers smell caramel or fudge bubbling in a traditional copper kettle on a gas-fired stove. They can watch the cook spin a skewered apple in the hot caramel, or watch fudge being made before their eyes. That’s what people remember most about the experience.”
Crail also gives credit to the growing number of independent franchise operators that bought in to his concept. “They are the ones that really make this company a success,” he remarks. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory continues to claim high marks in surveys that rate various franchise opportunities.
Old Fashioned Treats, Upscale Gifts
Another trademark is the unusually large portions of chocolate on display. “This was a fortunate mistake,” Crail recalls. “In the early days, my partners and I did not know how to make chocolate and had to literally learn on a ping pong table. From the start we made the candy centers too big, not compensating for the added size and weight when coating the pieces in chocolate. And if they didn’t look quite right we would dip them again.” But the mountain-sized pieces instantly caught on and have remained the Rocky Mountain benchmark ever since.
Best of all are the classic treats the visitor will find at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – many of which haven’t been seen by more mature adults since childhood. Besides the delightful caramel-covered apples (some stores feature over 30 varieties!), fudge is made fresh every day using the marble slab to literally suck the heat out of the favorite confection while the cook shapes it with paddles into a giant 22-pound “loaf”. A variety of fruits, nuts, pretzels and cookies are also dipped by hand in pots of melted milk, dark and even white chocolate.
Fine chocolates, such as the Company’s signature piece, the Bear™, a paw-sized concoction of chewy caramel, roasted nuts and a heavy coating of chocolate, are shipped fresh on one of the Company’s many refrigerated trucks. Other pieces include favorites like nut clusters, butter creams, exotic flavored truffles, toffee and a king-sized peanut butter cup appropriately dubbed the “Bucket™”. Recently, the Company developed a new line of sugar-free and no-sugar-added candies. Results have been “spectacular”, filling a need for those with special dietary requirements.
Also featured are a variety of packaged candies in traditional boxes, decorative tins and bags, perfect for gift giving, holiday time and special occasions. Store operators are happy to prepare special requests for fund raising, corporate gifts or catering for weddings or other special events.
Traditional Methods, Contemporary Presentation
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory shops are a unique blend of the traditional and contemporary. The recently redesigned store concept features a more contemporary design that prominently features the in-store cooking while providing an ideal backdrop for the newly redesigned upscale packaging. Every cooking area features a hand-forged copper kettle on a gas-fired stove, a massive 500-pound granite marble slab for cooling confections, and a variety of hand instruments, reinforcing the quality and freshness of the products.
“A great deal has happened over the years,” recounts Crail with a twinkle in his eye. “I never imagined that in my search for a place to raise a family things would turn out so sweet!”
Copyright RMCF, INC. 2021