Harbor Sweets: artisan chocolate company celebrates 50 years

January 1, 2023

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2023, Harbor Sweets has been producing handcrafted chocolate in the same historic brick building in Salem, Massachusetts from the very beginning. Staying true to the founding principles and original brand philosophy, President, Phyllis LeBlanc, is committed to producing a product of the highest quality, unparalleled customer service, treating employees and vendors with dignity and respect, and giving back to the community. 

Having started working in the company as a part-time candy dipper in the late seventies, LeBlanc purchased the company from founder Ben Strohecker in 1998. With her hands-on knowledge from working all aspects of the business, LeBlanc has a keen sense of how to grow the company. She has increased profits significantly by adding four new product lines, one additional brick and mortar stores, as well as increasing sales in the mail order and wholesale departments. Currently, the company employees over 100 people, including seasonal and part-time employees. 

Harbor Sweets has two retail outlets: The popular company store in Salem where visitors can see the chocolates being made and a highly visible location in the Northshore Mall. Harbor Sweets chocolates are also available at fine gift and candy stores across the country. 

The double-digit growth that Harbor Sweets is currently experiencing is exciting, and LeBlanc is quick to credit her employees, real people, making hand-made chocolates the old fashioned way! As a woman-run business employing many women, Harbor Sweets tries to work around people’s schedules. Providing part-time employment allows flexibility for working mothers and their families. 

Harbor Sweets also has a long history of giving back to the community, pledging 5% of pretax profits to community outreach and supporting a variety of local agencies. LeBlanc also devotes her time outside of work to local nonprofits. She currently sits on the Executive Cabinet of NEADs and The Advisory Council of The House of the Seven Gables and has previously served on the Board of Directors of New England Dressage Association, The House of Seven Gables, Salem State College Enterprise Center, and Salem Chamber of Commerce.

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