Dandelion ChocolateDandelion Chocolate Website
Dandelion Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory in San Francisco’s Mission District. We make chocolate from only two ingredients, cocoa beans and cane sugar, and travel to origins as often as we can to build good, trusting relationships with the producers who grow and ferment our beans. For such a small organization, our operation is surprisingly complex ranging from cocoa producers, international logistics, online fulfillment, retail locations, multiple chocolate factories and kitchens, corporate and business partners, external collaborators, holiday seasonality, as well as our own internal product development. Our future Chief Operating Officer will be tasked with the planning and goal-setting to ensure seamless business operations as well as building goodwill across our cocoa producers, teams, local neighbors, and online visitors by delivering upon our promises with quality, openness, and timeliness.
You’ll join a small exec team with finance and product backgrounds who are thoughtful, quality-oriented, action-forward, and with deep appreciation for teams of diverse backgrounds and skills. We’ve heard others say, “You take active listening to a different level” yet there is a lot brimming below the surface too. With an organization just shy of a hundred people (about 160 pre-covid) in the Bay Area, our most successful leaders can read a room, ask questions before jumping to conclusions, are comfortable stepping in firsthand to drive towards goals, and develop in-person relationships rather than directing from spreadsheets and reports alone.
About the Role
Our approach to quality and excellence entails understanding what we do from first principles whether sourcing beans from decade-long relationships, fulfilling orders from our own warehouse, overseeing our local Bay Area delivery program, developing home-grown inventory tracking software, or tying individual bows around each gift box before packing and shipping items from our Mission District address. Our goal is to build a business from the ground up that endures for decades, hopefully, a century or more, taking a long-term approach over quick and easy wins. We’ve invested in our team, business, and infrastructure for ten years and now have the factories and fundamentals in place to expand our presence in the craft chocolate world thoughtfully through a culture and product that instills pride in all involved.
Working closely with the CEO and exec team, you will develop and oversee a thriving, sustainable craft chocolate business across diverse operations (e.g. production, packaging, inventory, fulfillment, logistics, and deliveries) supporting multiple revenue channels (online, retail, b2b, corporate, experiences). Your first task will be developing a cadence for reviewing plans, growth drivers, key metrics, and areas for improvement to set the operational pulse necessary for emerging in a post-covid world poised for online and retail expansion.
You will know you are doing a good job in this role if we have few operational surprises or product shortages thanks to your proactive planning, we always have complete, up-to-date reports and KPIs ready to go, we are consistently hitting our goals, and the quality of our chocolate continues to improve year after year.
A Day in the Life
No matter the month or day, our eye is always on November and December, the make-or-break holiday season when the majority of our online and retail business can be compressed into just 3-5 weeks. Your Monday starts with strolling into the factory for a hot chocolate, saying hi to the morning café opening team and thanking Chuck, our mechanic wizard, who is repairing a finicky roaster. You settle into your seat to review the finance team’s just-reported weekly numbers, noting that we surpassed the assumed target last week but fell short of our aggressive target. Next up, you check in with Paul, our Director of Chocolate Operations, to make sure that his team’s hiring plan is on track and if there is anything you can do to help out. You then meet with Ashely on the confections team to make sure they have reworked their production plan (advent calendar, truffles, etc) based on the amount of chocolate they will have available. Based on Ashley's feedback, you make a note to talk to the production team to see if they can prioritize Tumaco, Colombia chocolate for the upcoming Mother’s Day truffle box.
At lunch, you have a meet and greet with a new co-packer that we are bringing on for hot chocolate vials to make sure that they have an escalation point. After lunch, you meet with the finance team to talk through the payment plan for the newest ball mill that we just purchased. During that conversation, you get an escalated email from the Production Director letting you know that the ball mill will be delayed, and wants to discuss the impact on the production schedule and on new product launches, so you set a meeting with her for next week and jot down some notes about the potential tradeoffs to think through. In the afternoon, you meet with the exec team to stay updated on the current plan for reopening the 16th Street Café. Toward the end of the day, Paul emails over the revised job description for final approval based upon your conversation before sending it to the recruiting team to post. Wrapping up your day, you check-in with the Fulfillment team just to say hello and to see today’s USPS afternoon deliveries before they head out the door. José who leads our Fulfillment Operations asks for 5 seconds of help with a spreadsheet formula which turns into a 10 minutes discussion about the merits of index/match versus vlookup and a pointer to look into Google Reports to build his first dashboard. He asks if you can stay for 5 more minutes to sing Happy Birthday to the new Warehouse Associate. You join the team in singing and then take your slice of chocolate birthday cake home, celebrating a smooth start to the week.
If you thrive on establishing and scaling day-to-day chocolate and production operations, can clear hurdle upon hurdle with each unexpected obstacle (e.g. bean containers fall off ships, global pandemics halt trade), can maintain a keen strategic sense despite the day-to-day distractions, can pivot and effectively articulate a plan B (and maybe a plan C and D) to rally the teams when necessary, and offer a zero-ego approach to conflict, we’d like to hear from you. For the right company and the right group of people, you’d love an opportunity to grow a sustainable business that produces some of the world’s very best bean-to-bar craft chocolate that will inspire generations to come. Our ideal candidate is an exec with an entrepreneurial spirit, through-and-through integrity, and a winning, can-do attitude that people want to work with again and again.