It’s not just about the cookies

I’ve been fascinated with marketing since my experience learning about business as a member of Junior Achievement in high school.  I’ve read books on marketing, followed marketing experts like Jeff Slater at TheMarkeingSage.com and focused some of my studies at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in marketing, including a class from then professor and now Dean,  Bill Boulding.  Great marketers see the world through a different lens.  One of my favorite marketing teachers is Seth Godin.

Seth is a technology entrepreneur, a world-renowned blogger and a prolific author.  Seth uses simple, eloquent language, combined with his unique ability to look beyond the obvious, to inspire ‘ah hah’ moments.  I recently subscribed to his new podcast called Akimbo and the first episode I listened to was titled ‘It’s not about the chocolate’.

As a baker of chocolate chip cookies, it immediately caught my attention.  Listening to Seth tell the story of how criminal defense attorney Shawn Askinosie founded Askinosie Chocolate struck a few chords with some of my experiences at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies.

Shawn was making lots of money as a lawyer.  And yet, he realized two important things:  he had no life outside of work; the stress of his job would, sooner rather than later, kill him.  He took his skills of the legal trade and applied them to learning all he could about chocolate.  Not only how it is grown, but how each step in the process turns a raw material into the finished product that we Americans consume about 9.5 lbs. of each year.

As Shawn built the company, he designed it so that Askinosie Chocolate has a purpose that goes beyond chasing sales dollars.  They were one of the first ‘bean to bar’ chocolate companies, working directly with cocoa farmers to convert their labor of love into a superior product.  Askinosie Chocolate does not focus on getting into big box stores or every specialty retail outlet that would have their product.  Instead, Shawn focuses on using the company and the profits to solve other problems.  Like providing 1 million school lunches to students in Tanzania and the Philippines where much of his raw material is sourced.  Like building a school for at-risk kids in Missouri.  It wasn’t just about the chocolate, but rather about doing something that makes an impact on people’s lives.

“Everything you do, from the way you answer the phone to the design of your packaging, from your location to the downstream effects of your work, from the hold music to the behavior of your executives, and even the kind of packing peanuts you use – all of it is a form of marketing your brand”
            -Seth Godin, This is Marketing

In his latest book, “This is Marketing”, Seth explains that marketing really comes down to all the things a company does and why they do it.  Marketing is not just ink on paper or a catchy slogan, it’s how a business operates in the world and how each part of that business interacts with customers, suppliers and employees.  The greatest marketers in the world understand their role is not to seek out anyone who can fog a mirror and call them a customer, but rather to attract those people who value the things that are most important to a business.

This past holiday season during one of our frantic days packing and shipping our gourmet cookie gifts, I was having a conversation with my friend, colleague and mentor, Jack Spain, who was there helping us get products out the door.  I shared a phone call from someone who received a gift box from us and called to share some feedback.  “Of course, everyone loved the cookies, but what made me do a happy dance was the fact that you used biodegradable peanuts for packing”.  It caught me a little off guard, but we are always happy to get feedback of any kind.

As Jack was putting together another package and inserting the little business card that encourages feedback, he reminded me, “Don’t you see Chris, this is all part of your brand, your marketing”.

It gave me pause to stop and thing about all the things we do at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies not only to make great products, but to take care of our suppliers and our customers in a way that makes them feel good about doing business with us.  How we answer the phone.  Spell check customer’s message on the gift card.  Double check shipping addresses.  Cut the end of our ribbons in a ‘V’ shape.  Include instructions on warming cookies.  And of course, using biodegradable peanuts.

The label for our chocolate chip cookies has a total of (10) ingredients.  However, the ingredients that go into building our brand and marketing our business are infinitely more complex.  Seth and Jack reminded me of that.  We want people to love our cookies and brownies, but if that was all there was to our business, it would be easy for customers to find another product they liked.

Askinosie Chocolate has done a remarkable job of scaling their business in a scant 12 years.  And while Anna’s Gourmet Goodies has yet to reach some of their milestones, I’d like to think we have a few things in common.  You’ll probably not find either of us in a warehouse club, a discount store, or food mart any time soon.  Anna’s won’t be opening a café where we’d end up selling sandwiches, coffee and other such things to keep the doors open.  We’ll continue to look for ways to impact our community beyond what happens in the bakery.  And we certainly won’t be saving a few pennies by cutting back on the quality of our ingredients.

We make, bake and ship cookie and brownie gifts for customers who understand that sending someone a gift is an act of kindness that can have profound benefits for many years to come.  And we do all those other little things that when added together, make up the recipe for our brand.  Because you see, it’s not just about the cookies.  But it doesn’t hurt that they are really, really good.

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There’s a story behind our most expensive ingredient

Josephine Lochhead is the third generation of the founder of Cook’s Vanilla.

One of the biggest challenges for any food business, especially a small business, is sourcing and managing ingredients.  We’ve designed our business and pricing so that the inevitable fluctuations in the price of flour, eggs (sometimes they double in price), butter and sugar don’t have too much of a negative impact on us.  But when the global vanilla crisis tipped the scale over the $500 a gallon mark, it was painful.  I cautiously started researching other suppliers and thankfully, I met Josephine.

No manufacturer likes to see the cost of materials rise.  Fortunately, we are not under the pressure large corporations face where they sometimes cut corners to keep everyone happy.  We’re always looking for better ways to manage our raw materials but refuse to shave a few pennies off by using inferior ingredients.  We upgraded our sugars awhile back to a brand-name that carries the non-GMO label, just to be sure we were giving our customers the best experience.

We’ve had the same vanilla supplier for a long time – one of the top manufacturers in the world.  We’ve watched the price climb from $95 to over $500 a gallon, sticking with the pure extract when imitation products can be had for about $6 a gallon.  But as the global supply constraints have loosened up and vanilla is more readily available, changes in their policies made it difficult to get what we needed.  My research led me to Cook’s Vanilla.

Angus Lochhead, Founder and Grandfather

When you call Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, there’s a near 100% chance you’ll be speaking with one of the owners, Debbie or myself.  When I called Cook’s I was pleasantly surprised that I got to speak with Josephine Lochhead, the third generation of owners.  I spent time on their website reading the company history and my initial conversation confirmed that the spirit of Cook’s was in alignment with our values at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies.

The Cook’s story begins with Angus Lochhead in 1918.  He saw an opportunity for superior vanilla to be used in ice cream, baked goods and candies and built his first factory in 1919 starting Lochhead Manufacturing Company.  Despite losing the factory to fire in 1925 and the Great Depression of 1929, Angus persevered refusing to give up his dream and continued to grow his company.

His son Ray studied mechanical and chemical engineering at Cal Tech.  After a stint in the US Navy during WW II, he finished his studies at Cal Tech and joined the family business in 1948.

Ray Lochhead, his plane and his motorcycle

One of the things that inspires me about great entrepreneurs and business owners is the passion to ‘make it happen’ and the spirit of innovation.  Ray moved his family to Paso Robles, CA and built his own airplane to help serve customers on the west coast.  To save money, he cut his Honda 50 motorcycle (it’s really more of a scooter) in half and installed hinges so he could fold it up and carry it in the plane.  When he landed, he assembled the bike and went off to visit customers and sell vanilla.  On rainy days he hung out in the laundromat until the rain stopped and his clothes dried.  Here’s a business owner that is committed to making it happen.

Besides the mechanics of making a superior vanilla product, Ray understood the importance of ingredients and relationships with the supplier.  He forged lasting relationships with vanilla growers in Bali, Fiji, Tonga and Madagascar that continue to this day.

The Cook’s name came about in the 80’s when Ken Cook, President of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream teamed up with Ray and Lochhead Manufacturing to form a new brand, Cook’s Pure Vanilla.  When Ken passed away in 1991, Ray and his daughter Josephine acquired Cook’s and merged the two companies together.

Building relationships that span generations

I learned more about vanilla in that first conversation with Josephine than I’ve known since starting the business.  She wasn’t selling me on their product, talking about price, telling me my current supplier was not good or any of that non-sense.  She was the epitome of Simon Sinek’s mantra, ‘The goal is not to sell to people who will buy what you have, but to sell to people who believe what you believe’.  I hung up knowing that once again, Anna’s Gourmet Goodies had made the right connection.

She sent us samples and we tried them in our cookies and brownies, as well as some other baked goods we don’t sell.  We even sent out samples to some of our customers.  Our tests along with results from our trusted taste tester (no, you can’t have her job) led us to pick a winner.

We placed our first order with Cook’s and will begin adding their ingredient to our products over the next few months.  And just like our relationship with our friends at Lindley Mills, we’ve found another supplier that not only is going to provide us with a superior quality product, but who runs their business based on principles that have stood the test of time.  Both companies measure their longevity in triple digits.

I can’t say for sure that Anna’s Gourmet Goodies will hit the 100-year mark, but as we close in on 20% of that, I can tell you that we continue to refuse to compromise on the quality of our ingredients and align ourselves with businesses and people who believe what we believe.  I believe that’s a recipe that will stand the test of time.

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Bread, pasta, gravy and love

Food crosses all social and cultural boundaries, we all need it to survive.  One food that stands out as universal in some form, is bread.  Wikipedia lists more than 200 different kinds of bread, not including cakes, pastries and fried dough foods.  Making fresh bread is more than nourishment, it feeds the body as well as the soul.  That was our inspiration for serving the residents of the Caring House in Durham.

You may remember reading my post about the Angels Among Us event that raises awareness and money for brain cancer research.  In addition to introducing me to that organization, Kathy Tobin also told me about the Caring House.  They provide affordable housing, a healing environment and a positive support community for patients at the Duke Cancer Institute.

Sheridan van Wagenberg is the Executive Director.  She gave me a tour of the facility and helped map out a plan for providing dinner to the guests.  The Caring House has a wonderful kitchen with (3) ovens, large stainless tables, ample counter space and a nice selection of cooking tools.  In addition to providing dinner, I wanted to offer the opportunity for guests to help make the bread.

I settled on two kinds, Brother Bandera’s Italian bread from The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking and unleavened bread from Hebrewliving.com.  It seemed only appropriate that we turn this into an Italian feast with freshly made pasta, tomato gravy, a spinach, artichoke and Parmesan salad, and of course, Anna’s Gourmet chocolate chip cookies for dessert!  After dinner, I also asked if we could hold a brief communion service for any guests that might be interested, sharing the freshly made unleavened bread.

Instead of the traditional buffet style dinner for the 25 or so guests, I wanted to offer them restaurant style service in their dining area.  A respite from a full day of doctors, tests, waiting rooms and in some cases, chemotherapy.

We reached out to a few groups for volunteers.  Two people from Debbie’s Bible study group stepped up.  We needed more help and a pastor for the communion service, so I reached out to Todd Moody at Revolve Church in Durham.  I met Todd at the Ronald McDonald House and he was all over it.  “Our mission is to find community organizations where we can serve and love on the people”.  This was the final ingredient I needed for this dinner.

The Caring House promoted our event to guests and two ladies signed up for my bread class.  Renee and Teresa had both made bread before and were eager to get their hands in dough to learn a bit more.  While making fresh bread is therapeutic, it is hard work and time consuming.  With a little advance prep work, we went through all the steps from mixing, to kneading, to proofing and finally baking.

After class, we had bread in the oven and the smell began to drift throughout the house.  Debbie started on the gravy, adding the aromas of olive oil, onions, garlic, herbs and tomatoes.  The perfect combination of smells to welcome our guests back home.

The volunteers arrived in force.  We held a brief pre-dinner meeting to cover the dinner menu, process and to delegate cooking and serving responsibilities.  Our Italian feast came together right on time and with the addition of a little Italian dinner music, we were ready to serve our guests and give them a tasty and restful end to their day.

When it came time for dessert, Tabetha and Ella carried around a basket of Anna’s Gourmet Goodies chocolate chip cookies for the guests.  I had a flashback of those days when Anna was about their age.  I can’t imagine a more appropriate way to serve our products to the guests.  Judging from the smiles, they appreciated the service, the food and the experience.

After dinner, we invited those guests who were interested to a covered patio area for the communion service.  This was not a formal, ritualized service found in many churches.  Todd lead a discussion of the Last Supper, it’s meaning, followed by sharing of the elements of bread and juice among friends.  As one guest noted, there were twelve of us in the room, imagine that.


Service is an illusion

We often use the word ‘service’ at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies.  Yes, we make products, but we’re in the business of serving our customers and creating a memorable experience for anyone that receives a gift of our cookies and brownies.  It’s a subtle distinction, but it is incredibly important in any business to understand your focus and as I’ve written about previously, your ‘why’.

My friend August Turak is an entrepreneur, a speaker and an author.  When it comes to talking about service and selflessness at work, he is an expert.  He recently published an illustrated version of his award-winning essay titled, ‘Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim and the Purpose of Life, ’.  I won’t give away the ending, but I will tell you that after reading the book, your view of the purpose of life and the role of service to others will be forever changed.

I share stories about what we do at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies in the hope that at least one reader finds the inspiration to act.  I believe that service to others is indeed, an illusion.  To stand back and watch someone serving, you might be tempted to think, ‘That’s nice that they are giving something back’.  The reality is that in most cases, it is the one doing the serving who receives the greatest gift.

Serving the guests at the Caring House in Durham filled up my tank.  With plenty of food left over, I’m pretty sure that our guests ate their fill.  And from the reactions on the faces of the other volunteers, I’m guessing they walked away feeling full as well.  All in all, I’d call it a dinner well-served.

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Reflecting back for Mother’s Day

I’m a fan of most Disney movies.  One of my favorites of the ‘recent’ releases is Cars.  I like all the characters, especially Tow Mater and his ability to drive forwards backwards.  Actually, the ability to look back while moving forward can be a valuable asset in life and in business.  It fits perfectly with my one word for 2018, ‘reflect’.

Early this year I turned 58 years old, the same age as my Mom was when she was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma (GBM), the worst of the worst of brain tumors.  It was a great opportunity to use my word and reflect back on my life and our business.

While Anna’s Gourmet Goodies was named after our daughter, she was named after my Mom.  Despite having said goodbye more than 30 years ago, Mom’s influence on my personal and business life is ever present.  I think of her not just on Mother’s Day, but almost every day.

I wanted to do something special to honor her this year.  One of my favorite memories was a visit back to Kentucky after her surgery when she had lost her hair.  I was driving a beautiful 1971 MGB convertible, it was late summer and she wanted to go for a ride.  I can still see the smile on her face and her blue head scarf flapping in the wind.  I decided to let my hair grow a bit so that I could donate it and help a patient who would like to have their hair once again, flyin’ in the wind.

As the winter months turned towards spring, I was thinking I’d like to tie this together with Anna’s Gourmet Goodies.  One of the benefits of owning this business is being able to not only help support charities, but hopefully inspire others to pursue their passion.

I was making a delivery to our friends at Crossroads Infiniti and struck up a conversation with a customer in the waiting room.  She had a Duke Hospital badge on and I asked where she worked.  As it turned out, Kathy is the chief administrator for Duke Neurosurgery.  I shared my personal story and without hesitation, she immediately understood.

I told her I’d love to find a way to raise awareness, a little money and have some fun by finding a patient do the honors of clipping my pony tail.  She told me about the Angels Among Us fundraiser for the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Research Center coming up at the end of April and put me in touch with Ellen.

After exchanging emails and conversations, Ellen was able to get me a spot on stage at 9:30 and have a patient do the honors of cutting my hair.  We created a custom label for the event and would sell packs of cookies, donating 100% of the proceeds to the event.

We arrived early and setup our table of cookies.  I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a variety of fund raising events, but this was unlike any I’ve ever experienced.  I love hearing stories and my personal connection to brain cancer made them even more poignant.  Everyone I spoke with had one.  Some brought smiles and some tears, but in every case, there was a sense of hope and celebration of life.

When the time came for me to go on stage, Ellen introduced me to the survivor who would be wielding the scissors and doing the honors.  Nestor could not have been a more perfect match for me.

It turns out that three years ago Nestor was diagnosed with a GBM, the same tumor that Mom had 30+ years ago.  He looked fantastic.  After surgery, chemo and treatment at Duke, Nestor was a perfect example of extraordinary medicine, miracles and sheer determination to live life to the fullest.  Meeting him was indeed a gift.  Read more about Nestor here….

We had the chance to talk before taking the stage.  He told me some of his story.  I met his Mom, a delightful woman who moved from the U.S. Virgin Islands to be closer to her son.  I shared a few stories about my Mom, one that made us both laugh..

Finally, it was time.  After being introduced to the crowd, I shared my refection about turning 58, my Mom and my desire to honor her.  I talked about this event and the journey from an idea to standing there on stage – how everything seemed to line up perfectly.  How does this happen?  I suggested (and the crowd agreed) that there are indeed, angels among us – we just have to be watchful, grateful and pay attention.

Nestor clipped my small pony tail and we spent the rest of the day, selling cookies, listening to stories and alternating between wet eyes and laughter.  Near the end of the event, Nestor played the keyboard while a survivor sang ‘Angels Among Us’ made famous by the group Alabama.  I cried happy tears knowing that my Mom was smiling down on me that day.

At the end of the day, we handed over funds from cookie sales, happy that we were able to push the total raised (over $2.35 million) ever so slightly higher.  We ended up with extra packs of cookies and dropped them by the pediatric ICU waiting room at Duke.  When I reflect back on this day, I can easily say that personally and for Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, it was the perfect recipe for moments of happiness.  I’m pretty confident that Mom would agree.  Thanks and Happy Mother’s Day.

For more information on Angels Among Us, including ways you can help, please visit their website: http://angelsamongus.org.


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Some gifts are best when you pass them on

We send out a gift to someone, somewhere, practically every day of the week.  We rarely find out what ultimately happens with that gift, whether they enjoy it for themselves, or pass it on to someone else.  We recently received a gift from one of our customers, and chose to pass it on.  And as is often the case, we got back far more than we expected.

Our long-time customer, Uptown Endodontics recently sent us a gift – a box of beads and trinkets from New Orleans, the Mardis Gras capital of the world.  They were fun and festive, but we felt this gift was meant to be shared and knew that our friends at Uptown would certainly agree.  How could we use these to spread a little love from New Orleans and Mardis Gras that would make an impact on the recipients?  After thinking about it for a bit, I had an idea and called the Ronald McDonald House in Durham (RMHD).

I’ve written two other times about RMHD and our experience there.  If you have yet to visit one in your area, click here to find the closest location and schedule a visit.  It will completely change your perspective on what’s important and what we perceive to be problems.

Every day, RMDH feeds about 75 guests.  Organizations round up volunteers to come to the house and prepare dinner.  Tuesdays at RMDH is covered by a team of volunteers led by Todd Moody from Revolve Church in Durham.  They have been taking care of the meal, week in and week out, for over three years.  I asked if I could come by and join in by sharing some gifts and providing the traditional Mardis Gras dessert – King Cakes, and they readily agreed.

I found a recipe on Nola.com that seemed like something I could make.  Knowing the guests at RMHD and the fact that many of them were there for treatment of various kinds, I wanted to add my own twist to this traditional delight.  Instead of using food colorings for the icing, I made my own using beets, orange juice, spinach and mint, and blueberries.

One of the best parts of serving at RMHD is the opportunity to meet the guests and hear some of their stories.  From the young guest with Down Syndrome, to the teenager wearing a mask and fighting off rejection of his heart transplant, to the young man in the wheelchair who slept thru dinner while hugging his Mardis Gras bear, it was a joy to share a brief moment of happiness with this group.

Of course, having a bag full of goodies from New Orleans along with King Cakes made it easy to strike up a conversation.  I could tell by the smiles on the faces of the parents and the kids that it was a welcome break from the challenges they all face on a daily basis.

As seems to always be the case, there were plenty of gifts and King Cake for the guests and volunteers.  Everyone walked away with a little something extra that night or ‘lagniappe’ (pronounced lan-yap) as our friends from New Orleans like to call it.  As dinner was coming to a close, we had one purse left and gave that to Bethany.

Bethany is nine years old and was having surgery the next day.  She had a smile on her face the whole time and appreciated the beads and purse.  Her sister Jordan and mother Kim shared her story.  She suffers from Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrom (no I can’t pronounce it) or KTS.  It is an extremely rare disease that in Bethany’s case, manifested itself in blood clots all over her body.  Fingers, arms, chest, back, feet, everywhere.  She was there to have some of the worst ones removed.

Jordan described it like this.  “Have you ever had a Charley horse?”  Of course, we all have.  “It’s like having one, but for a week at a time”.  My eyes welled up just imagining the pain she must feel as a part of every day life.

KTS is the result of a genetic mutation, but its cause is unknown.  It affects an estimated 1 in 100,000 people.  There is no cure and treatment is primarily symptomatic.  In addition to the intense pain, blood clots released in the body can cause life-threatening complications.

We sat and listened to their story, not just about Bethany, but the struggles they faced as a family and how this single mom ended up living in a small town in North Carolina.  And once again, as is the case when I’ve met other guests at RMHD, I realized that comparatively, I have no problems.

The next day, we fired up the oven, baked cookies and sent out gifts just as we do almost every day.  We like to think the recipients enjoy them and maybe, in some cases, pass some on.  I know our friends at Uptown Endodontics don’t mind that we passed on their gift and you can rest assured we don’t mind someone sharing our cookies and brownies either.

I’d like to think that the person who gets a box of our cookies and passes on at least one, receives even a small measure of what we experienced by passing out our Mardis Gras gifts.  It confirmed my belief once again that it is truly is better to give than to receive.  Amen.

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It feels good to hire quality

Ask any business owner (small, medium or large) about the top challenges to running a business these days and it’s likely that hiring top quality people will be high up on their list.  It is especially difficult when you throw in the ‘seasonal factor’ in businesses like Anna’s Gourmet Goodies.

Wake EnterprisesThis past holiday was a record season by a large margin and once again, we were blessed to have some great people show up at just the right time.  Thanks to a presentation by Henry Casey at this year’s NC Specialty Foods Fall Conference, I was inspired to reach out to Wake Enterprises to help us solve some production challenges.  Not only did they come through with superb quality, it felt good to have them on our team.

I first met Henry at a Raleigh Chamber of Commerce event years ago.  I outsourced assembly of some DVD products for another business to Wake Enterprises and had a great experience.  But I had not thought about having them help us with shipping boxes until his presentation.  Turns out it was the perfect solution.

Wake Enterprises was founded in 1979 and serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Their mission is to assist people with varying levels of abilities achieve their maximum potential through vocational training, job placement and community inclusion activities.  By contracting with businesses to provide sub-contracting services, Wake Enterprises offers adults with disabilities the opportunity to learn valuable job and life skills to help them become more self sufficient and find a place in the workforce where they can contribute value.

At Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, we bake and ship cookies year round, but the Holiday Gift season gets a little crazy.  It’s like a big math equation where we have to figure out how many cookies we can bake and ship in a period of about 3-4 weeks.  Of course this requires coordination of all the materials that go into our products – labels, ribbons, flour, butter, eggs, chocolate and lastly, shipping boxes and cards with envelopes.

We’ve developed a relatively sophisticated capacity planning tool that helps us calculate to the cookie, what we’ll need to bake and ship orders for any given day.  Although some companies order early, we find that most of the order rush actually happens just after Thanksgiving.  This year we were looking at roughly 90% capacity a week before Thanksgiving – a good but scary problem.  Fortunately, we were able to outsource our shipping box and envelope assembly to the team at Wake Enterprises.

You might be tempted to think that our choice of working with the team at Wake Enterprises was based solely on a desire to include their adults in our process.  That would be false. Having been in business for 17 years, we know that the only way to sustain our customers is to continue to provide top quality products and services.

Sylvester Kitchen, Wake EnterprisesHenry assigned our project to Sylvester Kitchen, Assistant Director of Production & Procurement at Wake Enterprises.  Sylvester served in the Army, NC National Guard and left as a Sergeant (thank you for your service).  He has the skills to not only run top quality production processes, but the heart of a giant for serving others.  He also volunteers with the Special Olympics helping Special needs Kids & Adults from 6 to 65 years of age.  Ask him why he does what he does and the sparkle in his eye tells the whole story.

Team member - JohnTo get us started, we dropped off a small order of about 150 boxes and 500 or so envelopes to be assembled just after Thanksgiving.  A few days later I returned to pick up the order.  Everything was ready and put together with the quality and attention to detail we expected.

One of the team members, John, helped load the boxes into the truck.  He didn’t say much, working quickly and as professionally as any one I’ve met at any warehouse or loading dock.  There were several other team members there helping out, all of whom seemed excited about the work and eager to help with more boxes and envelopes.

When we were finished, John walked up and quietly handed me this mint and said ‘thank you’.  I later asked Sylvester if this is something John regularly does.  “No, not really.  Just sometimes.”  I felt like I was the one who received a gift that day.

At Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, we use the word laginiappe (pronounced lan – yap) a fair amount.  It’s Cajun for a ‘little extra’.  We try to think about this in everything we do for our customers.  It made me smile and hold back a little tear to know that we found a business partner in Wake Enterprises that has the same attitude.

We immediately placed another order and a few days later, the Wake Enterprises truck delivered a huge load of assembled boxes we used to ship orders throughout the entire Holiday Season.

Our goal at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies is to make every recipient of our cookie and brownie gifts feel good.  Not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year.  If you sent gifts from Anna’s Gourmet Goodies to anyone this past season, you can rest assured that everything in that package was put together with love and a passion for quality.  And you can feel good knowing that Henry, Sylvester, John and the rest of the team at Wake Enterprises, were all a part of that gift.

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