See's Candies shares their sweet secret to success

December 22, 2010 7:59:27 PM PST
A Bay Area candy company has weathered the recession and is now sweetening the deal with hundreds of local jobs.

See's Candies has old fashioned products and old fashioned employee values. District sales manager Cheryl Soules has been with the company only 14 years and Jim Paine who manages production on the assembly line, a mere 35.

The company has done no layoffs, just some hours cut back at worst and in a time of economic woes, this would be a story of economic 'whee.' This year, the California-based company hired about 8,000 seasonal employees.

"I needed it for Christmas times and I have children. So I needed it," Helyna Moore said.

Moore was out of work for six months.

"I have a number of people who started out seasonal, and became management," Soules said.

This is the time of year when production ramps to a dizzying pace. The factory consumes 70,000 pounds of chocolate for more than a million pieces of candies every day. Apparently, Americans like to pamper their sweet teeth.

"I mean, you think about the center and all the little ingredients. Our purchasing department has to go bananas," Paine said.

But as fascinating as the assembly line looks, if you want to go old school, the bonbon room is where it's at. The most trusted and tested employees work there and that's what seniority buys -- the prestige of hand making their signature candy and dribbling the 'S' on top.

It's rare to see people spend this long for a company and even more so, that they don't complain.

"A lot of tender loving care goes into the work," Penny Salade, who has been with the company for 41 years said.

In troubled times...how sweet is that?

See's Candies is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company run by Warren Buffett.


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