We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Ross and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I’d say there are two key factors behind our success. First: the passion we feel for the business. We love what we do! When you think about how many hours most of us spend “working,” it’s really essential for quality of life that our livelihoods make a positive contribution to one’s life. Second (really an outgrowth of the first) is that we always strive to improve. We continually examine every aspect of our business and brainstorm everything from developing new products to better marketing messages to improved customer service. Not only is this mindset beneficial for our business, but it has the benefit of keeping it challenging and interesting for us. And what’s surprising is that we always seem to find newer and better ways to do many things!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Our company name is Gourmet M Chocolates. We use a very high-quality vegan dark chocolate imported from Belgium and create a variety of chocolate products — bars, truffles, nut clusters, halvah, and gift boxes. Our flavors range from the more conventional (i.e., honey-roasted almond, Spanish orange peel, tart cherry, salted caramel) to the exotic (Chai tea-infused, habanero, edible flowers). We sell at two local farmers markets and privately to friends and neighbors.
Now in my late seventies, I’ve had many experiences and several careers throughout my life and draw on these experiences and lessons learned every day. My wife had a decades-long career with a small local business, and so together we tackle the challenges and adventures that this joint venture presents.
I am a risk-taker by nature and never shy away from trying new things. Like with everything, there was a learning curve in figuring out how to make couverture chocolate. My persistence, curiosity and engineering background enabled me to master this unforgiving undertaking, which requires strict adherence to temperature and time “rules.” Otherwise, the chocolate will “bloom.” And darn, we had to eat our mistakes along the way!
One lesson that I apply is to ask the right questions. It’s important to figure out the underlying problem along with the more apparent problem and also to stay open to finding solutions in places and ways that may not be obvious at first. And finally, as someone wise once said, “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”
As mentioned earlier, I tend to never be satisfied with what I do….ditto my wife, so we continuously look to improve just about everything. My wife, Erica, is a 100% partner, and we could not have achieved this success without working as a tight team.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Balboa Park, The Zoo, The Wild Animal Park, Coronado, Julian, local farmers markets, Petco Park, theater at Balboa Park.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife, Erica, has supported everything I do for the last 22+ years.