Thursday, July 28, 2005

It's mine, no! it's mine!

Many of us shop at Whole Foods. We like the quality, selection, and corporate "mission". Well this story is not about Whole Foods. It's about a company I learned about through Whole Foods. Endagered Species Chocolate has been on the shelf at Whole Foods for quite some time now. I first encountered them in the late 90s. ESC has a "mission" too. Make the very best chocolate from organic sources. I bought some, it was okay. It didn't compare to my affinity for Scharffenberger though. Sigh. I keep purchasing it in hopes that it will improve. I want to purchase and support companies that are forging ahead with "organic" methods, but I have limits. It has to taste good.

Now there is a new wrinkle in the works. Jon Stocking started ESC in 1993 with some cash and credit cards. He worked hard and built a solid company. In January of this year he sold 51% of the company to Randy Deer and Wayne Zink. According to reports they would infuse the company with cash and move the company forward, bringing more success. Jon Stocking felt they entered into an agreement that they'd work together in this effort. 99 days after the deal was struck, Jon was dismissed. Now Zink and Deer have ownership of ESC and Stocking is none too happy about it. A lawsuit was filed, they will go to court. Each side of this battle has a tale to tell. It's not pretty.

The only thing I can really say: When you own a company, one you've built from scratch, don't give anyone a higher percentage of ownership than you have. Kind of like the first time you bake that very challenging cake or piecrust from scratch - you'll be upset if you at least don't get a piece of it to enjoy.