Ever get a hankering for some chocolates truffles? While surfing
the Internet I went to search engine Google and typed in the
word "chocolate". Jeez, chocolate is BIG business.
I started reading postings from chocolate fanatics as to their
favorite chocolate truffle and kept coming across the name Teuscher.
Went to Teuscher's website (teuscher.com) and found their chocolates
are sold in about 35 places around the world including Beverly
Hills, Toronto, Tokyo, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Boston, Dubai and Santa
Fe. From its kitchens in Zurich, the confections are prepared
each week and then flown to its stores around the world. Hmm,
I better check out this chocolatier.
Though Teuscher has a store on Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich's famous
and expensive shopping street, its headquarters lies a half-dozen
blocks away at its flagship store in the old part of Zurich's
city center. Narrow and winding cobblestone streets take you
around half-timbered buildings hundreds of years old. Small retail
shops catering mostly to tourists occupy the storefronts of many
of these buildings.
Usually when one thinks of a flagship store, visions of large
and grand come to mind. Well that's not the case here as the
store is neither big nor grand. Granted its overflowing with
all kinds of chocolate but you probably couldn't fit more than
ten people into the place at one time. However, this seven-story
structure does go back a few years; it was built in 1647.
I mailed my letter of introduction a month earlier to this address
but simply addressed it to "Chief Executive Officer"
since I was able to find very little background information on
Teuscher let alone the name of the head honcho. It's about 4
PM when I walk into the store and it's manned by two older women.
One speaks English and I explain what I do. She recalls the letter
but says the man I should talk to is busy and I should come back
another time. I tell her I've heard a lot about their truffles
but have never tried them. I'm given a couple samples. Holy Moly,
I return the next day and it's the same story, the man I should
meet with is alone upstairs and hasn't time. So, I come back
several days later and this time I'm in luck as Rafael Rubio
finds time to meet with me.
Rafael Rubio is probably in his early 30's and is the company's
CFO. His grandfather was Dolf Teuscher, who founded the company
72 years ago. Rubio's uncle, Dolf Teuscher, is the company's
current CEO. Confused? Rubio's uncle and grandfather both have
the same name, Dolf Teuscher.
We head up to the second floor for the corporate offices. Well,
there are a grand total of four people at the head office and
it looks and feels more like someone working out of their home.
Matter of fact, Rubio's grandmother (wife of founder Dolf Teuscher)
is 92 years olds and lives in an apartment above this office.
Where are all the delectable confections made? At a factory in
a Zurich suburb. All total there're 150 employees. Teuscher has
had its headquarters here since 1972. There's zero parking and
smoking isn't allowed. Try as I may I'm unable to get Rubio to
divulge annual revenues at this family-owned concern.
Corporate offices pretty much consists of CEO Teuscher's second
floor office and an adjacent room, which are actually a converted
living room and dining area. There's one real plant and no computer.
I ask Rubio how they pick out where to open a store and he says
they receive at least a half dozen request from around the world
every week from people wanting to sell their goodies. Here's
a trivia question: on Rubio's business card there're nine cities
listed where you can buy Teuscher chocolates. Can you spot the
one that seems definitely out of place? New York, Houston, Beverly
Hills, San Francisco, Guam, Singapore, Tokyo and Geneva.
I learn the secret to Teuscher's chocolates is in fact, a secret.
Just like the Coca-Cola formula, only a select few know the secret
recipes. Matter of fact, founder Dolf Teuscher invented the champagne
It's a fun visit with Rubio and he doesn't let me leave without
several boxes of truffles. Man, they are fantastic