COLUMBIA — Officials of the U.S. Small Business Administration stopped by Patric Chocolate on Tuesday to tour the factory and highlight its success as an SBA-assisted business.
The SBA, through its funded partner organizations such as the Small Business and Technology Development Center, provides assistance to small businesses.
Patric Chocolate, which has received SBA assistance since opening, has been featured in the Los Angeles Times and The New Yorker Online. The company has received two Good Food Awards: one in 2011 for its In-NIB-itable Bar and another in 2012 for its Signature 70% Blend.
Included in the touring group was Regional Administrator Patricia Brown-Dixon, who oversees SBA operations in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Brown-Dixon said Patric Chocolate's success is due, in part, to the assistance it receives from the SBA.
"Patric showed up with a high level of skill in the making of chocolate," said District Director Dennis Melton, another member of the touring group, who is in charge of SBA operations in St. Louis and 54 counties in eastern Missouri.
"Skill doesn’t always translate into business acumen," Brown-Dixon said. "That’s where we come in to help."
The SBA helps provide small businesses what Brown-Dixon called the three C’s — capital, contracting and counseling — with the hope of fostering growth.
"Two out of every three people either own or work for a small business, and small businesses create 65 percent of net new jobs in the United States," Brown-Dixon said. "Small businesses are the job creators."
Alan "Patric" McClure founded Patric Chocolate in March 2006. Since then, McClure said he has expanded to distributing chocolate in about 35 states, as well as in Sweden, Canada and United Kingdom.
McClure said Patric Chocolate is one of a handful of small companies in the United States that have begun making chocolate from scratch in recent years, starting with cocoa beans. Patric Chocolate sells 12 varieties of chocolate, McClure said, and each bar is hand-packaged.
A number of shops in Columbia carry Patric Chocolate products, including Clover's Natural Market, Root Cellar and the Health Market section of Hy-Vee stores.
Patric Chocolate is capable of producing 150 pounds of chocolate at a time in its workshop over the course of a 72-hour period, which McClure said is enough to make approximately 3,000 bars.
Throughout the production process, McClure and his three employees perform daily quality control tests to ensure the taste and texture of the chocolate is up to their standards.
In the early years of his company, McClure said he often used to personally visit farms of potential cacao suppliers in an effort to learn more about cacao quality.
"I'm picky about quality," he said.
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