One suspects that investment guru and billionaire Warren Buffett has a sweet tooth. If we're correct, he knows that See's Candies has what it takes to satisfy it. Owned by Buffett's firm Berkshire Hathaway, See's Candies makes about 100 varieties of premium chocolate truffles, caramels, toffee, and other confections, including boxed assortments, lollipops, peppermints, and licorice treats. The company sells its sweets at some 210 franchised, black-and-white-decorated shops in the US, primarily in California and other western states. Its products also are sold for fundraisers, through its website, and by mail order. A highly seasonal operation, some 50% of its revenue is generated in November and December.
Founded in 1921 by Charles A. See, the company was bought by Berkshire Hathaway in 1972 for $25 million.
See's Candies' retail and quantity discount shops are located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Overseas, See's has stores in Maçau, China; Hong Kong; and Tokyo. It makes its treats at two large kitchens in Los Angeles and San Francisco. (The chocolate assembly line at the company's LA kitchen is said to be the inspiration for the famous I Love Lucy episode.)
See's Candies made a profit of $83 million on sales of $376 million in 2011.
See's Candies' recipe for success may be not to mess with it. The 91-year-old business still features a picture of Mary See -- whose recipes are still used -- on every candy box and she's featured on the company's website. Stability, however, doesn't rule out growth. Under CEO Brad Kinstler, who took the helm in 2006 from 54-year-company-veteran Chuck Huggins, See's Candies is looking eastward. The boxed-candy company plans to open stores in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and in Washington. D.C. by 2015. In 2012, See's entered Tulsa, Oklahoma, and has plans to open five stores in Texas, and one each in Indiana and Wisconsin.