A Very Sweet Company

Ellen Lampman Reed ’03 had a sweet upbringing in Charlotte, Vermont. When Ellen was just a toddler, her father, Jim Lampman opened Lake Champlain Chocolates and Ellen began working for the company at their retail stores during high school. Now, Ellen and her brother, Eric, are carrying on the family business by serving as vice president and president, respectively, at the company.

Ellen transferred to Colby-Sawyer College her sophomore year because she wanted to go to a smaller liberal arts college in New England. Being from Vermont, she loved the beautiful campus and being able to see the mountains. She says, “It probably reminded me of home because I grew up with a view of the Adirondack and Green Mountains. Mountain Day was one of my favorite highlights each year. It is a great tradition the school continues to carry on.” Ellen majored in business administration and was involved in the equestrian team all three of her years as a CSC student.

After graduation Ellen immediately began working at Lake Champlain Chocolates as the purchasing specialist buying all of the company’s materials. In 2013, Ellen and Eric decided it was time to raise the bar and radically transform their chocolate supply chain. They decided to make an investment in the future and know where the cocoa beans they used to make their chocolate were coming from. Today, 100% of the chocolate supply at Lake Champlain Chocolates is fair trade certified and 80% is organic certified. Ellen says, “Our fair trade purchases generate around $70,000 annually in fair trade premiums that go back to the co-ops in areas like the Dominican Republic and Peru to improve social, economic and environmental conditions. Also, organic certification means that ingredients were grown naturally and without pesticides, so they tend to be healthier for people to eat. Organic practices are also better for the environment, so we are now focused on only sourcing organic ingredients.”

Today, Lake Champlain Chocolates produces over 1 million pounds of chocolate confections a year and sells their products in over 2,000 retail stores across the country. They also sell directly to consumers through their ecommerce business. They have about 100 full-time employees year-round and hire additional staff during their peak productions months from August through March. December is the busiest time of year and they usually ship around 15,000 packages around the country.

So, what about Valentine’s Day? Ellen says, “The week leading up to Valentine’s Day is busy for ecommerce and our retail stores. We sell about 80% of our volume this week with truffles and heart shaped boxes with chocolate assortments.” When asked if she ever gets sick of chocolate, Ellen replied, “I love chocolate and eat it every day! I don’t think I could ever get sick of it since we make so many different products and the Research and Development Department is always creating something new to try.”

Ellen and her husband Scott reside in Hinesburg, Vermont with their two daughters, Caitlyn, 10, and Madison, 7. She claims she loves many of the products made at Lake Champlain Chocolates, but one of her favorites is the Peanut Five Star Bar. She said the dark chocolate coconut cream egg is another favorite and very hard to resist. And her perfect Valentine’s Day gift? She said, “You can’t go wrong with champagne and chocolate!”