See’s CEO talks about nostalgia, e-commerce and that Nuts & Chews assortment

CEO Pat Egan joined See’s Candies only a few years ago, in 2018, but he brings to the job a lifetime of experience as a See’s customer. As such, he doesn’t take his position as keeper of the Mary See’s flame lightly, especially as the Bay Area-based company marks its 100th year. We asked him about everything from the nostalgia factor to COVID-19 challenges to candy preferences. Here’s an edited version of that discussion:

Q: How long have you been eating See’s Candies?

A: I’ve been a See’s fan for as long as I can remember. I was born in San Francisco and grew up in San Mateo, so our Hillsdale Mall location was my home store as a kid.

I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and I’ve always had a pretty critical eye for quality. When I started working for a Berkshire Hathaway company over 15 years ago, you feel a pride in being associated with such an iconic and beloved brand.  And when I had the opportunity three years ago to come support our centennial and prepare for the next century, I couldn’t pass it up.

What I would add is that I’ve learned so much since I have been here. The average tenure of our year-round employees is almost two decades — average! I’ve grown to admire our people and the process we use to make and deliver the best candy on the planet.

See’s stores, like this one in Los Gatos, retain the retailer’s signature black-and-white checkerboard floor. Above, manager Barbara Sancen hands a sample to Nicole Meyers at the 2015 grand opening. (George Sakkestad/Bay Area News Group archives) 

Q: How has the nostalgic look and feel of See’s worked to your advantage? Few companies dare to maintain that for even a few decades, much less as long as See’s has.

A: Our shops are inspired by Mary See’s actual kitchen in Pasadena. When you step into one of our shops, it’s almost like time travelling back to 1921. Most recognizable is our iconic black-and-white checkerboard floor. The See’s uniform that our shop associates wear has also stayed almost identical to our first uniforms from 100 years ago.

We’ve made a few modern touches but have stayed true to our roots. I think our customers love the idea that they’re having the same experience as their grandparents and great-grandparents had when shopping at See’s.

Q: What’s remained the same, product-wise, over the past century?

A: We actually still use many of the same ingredients — most of them from California suppliers and growers and all of them with no added preservatives. We still use many of Mary’s original recipes.

See’s showcases California chocolate, butter and nuts in its chocolates. (Ron Lewis/Bay Area News Group archives) 

Q: What kind of changes are you making to face the current challenges?

A: The biggest current change is the massive growth in home deliveries and finding ways to meet that customer demand. We introduced DoorDash last year, as well as Click, Pick & Go, which allows customers to order online and come to a …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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