taste such as the annual Chocolate Party.
of“To make that leap from high up
the executive chain so your dream can
success come true—it’s very admirable,” says
Walther. “It’s easy to work for someone
where nothing is insurmountable.”
Walther is one of hundreds who are
audience to Swain’s energy. Traveling the
country as a motivational speaker, Swain has
By Heidi Visser Jerry Swain’s Jer’s
tes altered his once technologically centered
SOMETIMES IT SEEMS the best things are Handmade Chocola
have won four major speeches to instead focus on whimsical themes
found when you’re not looking. Gourmet confectionary awards. based on his chocolate, encouraging students
food is no exception, as Costco member Jerry to follow their most ambitious aspirations.
CHOCOLATE BOXES: FRANCE FREEMAN
Swain discovered while rolling peanut butter- ingredients, such as a peanut butter and pretzel For, according to Swain, “Happiness is
chocolate balls in his fraternity’s kitchen. filling. “I wanted a box of chocolate where you not the destination, it’s the journey.” C
Although it took 14 years, Swain morphed would really love every single piece,” says Swain.
his confectionary genius into Jer’s Handmade Surrounded by competitors who have Heidi Visser is a writer based in Seattle and a
Chocolates ( www.iwantchocolate.com). What dominated the market for years, Jer’s was a member of the costco.com merchandising team.
began as a fraternity joke inspired an IBM business venture founded on
executive to abandon everything in hopes of three simple values: Make
turning chocolate into a livelihood. universally likable creations, The Costco Connection
“I was an [executive vice president] with give back to the community Three-piece towers of Jer’s Handmade Chocolates are
two successful firms, and then I did the cra- and have fun. available at costco.com just in time for Valentine’s Day. Each
ziest thing I could think up at 35,” Swain tells “We’re that fun gourmet candy features one of four hand-rolled fillings—all-natural
The Connection. “You have to ask yourself if chocolate,” enthuses sales peanut butter, a peanut butter and pretzel blend, caramel or
you can live with the worst thing that can manager Janet Walther. She toffee—that is hand-dipped and finished in white, milk
happen, and, if so, take a shot.” joined Jer’s because of the or dark Guittard premium chocolate. Jer’s Handmade
Swain’s “shot” has built a company known company’s immense com- Chocolates will also be available this month at Special
for creating gourmet candy from familiar mitment to charitable work, Events in various San Diego–area warehouses.