Executive Enjoys 'Building And Rebuilding'

Monday, October 26, 2009

Food division chief didn't know how to make candy, but he was eager to learn

In April 2006, David Taiclet and his partner, Taz Murray, sold Fannie May candy, a well-known Chicago candy company they rescued two years earlier from bankruptcy, for $85 million to 1-800-Flowers.com, based in New York.

Originally, Taiclet agreed to stay on for a transition period, but he is now president of the firm's Chicago-based gourmet food division, of which Fannie May is the largest business. He also oversees a popcorn business based in Lake Forest and three other businesses.

"I realized that I like what I do, and now we have a chance to build an even bigger, more diverse food business," Taiclet said about his decision to remain on. "I enjoy building and rebuilding companies, and it has all been a great experience, both on my own and within a company I don't own or control." Taiclet, 46, said the future of the business "is going to be more Internet technology driven and mobile technology driven." But he believes the stores "help develop the brand, the brand image and deliver a potentially differentiating personalized experience." He said brands that figure out how to couple a personalized experience at the store level with a mobile and/or Internet experience will enjoy a long-term advantage.

-- -- -- QWhat's a typical day like? AI have presidents for each of the businesses I oversee. My job is working with them to remove obstacles so they can run their businesses.

I travel a couple of days every week, mostly day trips so I'm not away from my family at night.

It's important for me to physically be at those businesses, be visible and accessible to employees. It's really important not only to communicate, but to communicate understanding, particularly in a virtual environment.

QHow did you finance the (Fannie May) acquisition? How did you deal with sustained risk and uncertainty? AWe emptied out our 401(k)'s, mortgaged our homes and gave notes to the sellers of the company.

That really clarifies and prioritizes things in your mind.

Maybe I was too naive to be stressed. We were confident we could fix the companies we were buying.

QBut you didn't know anything about candy-making, did you? ANo, but I did love the food business and enjoyed making things. I loved learning how to create product, especially chocolate-covered potato chips, in a factory environment and satisfying customers.

Early on, we could never make enough product and were always running out of capacity, a great problem to have. We needed a better process for determining customer demand and ensuring we had enough product.

QWhat did you learn in the Army that you've incorporated into how you manage? AIt's very important to clarify responsibility and not have any ambiguity. In the Army, there's a hierarchy. In business, especially the kind of virtual world we sell in, because there are many ways for customers to access our products, we need to take care of them in a clearly defined way.

We have a president in charge of each business who is absolutely in charge. That clarity helps them excel.

Step by step 2009-present: President, gourmet food group, 1-800-Flowers.com, Chicago 2006-08: Chief executive, Fannie May Confections Brands, Chicago 1995-2006: Co-founder/owner, Alpine Confections, Alpine, Utah 1992-95: Business analyst/acting acquisition manager, Cargill, Minneapolis 1991-92: Grain merchant, Cargill 1991: Master of business administration, Harvard University, Boston 1990: Summer associate, agribusiness investment group, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co., Boston 1989: Captain, 4-61 Air Defense Artillery, 4th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, Fort Carson, Colo.

1985-88: Platoon leader/battery executive officer, adjutant, 4th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, Fort Carson 1985: Bachelor of business administration, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.

1983: Intern, Congressman Elwood Hillis, 5th District, Indiana, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

1978-83: Laborer, Buckeye Ag-Center Inc./Tippecanoe Railroad Inc., Monterey, Ind.

1-800-Flowers News and Press Releases

This article has been read 1519 times.

1-800-Flowers Logo

One Old Country Road Suite 500
Carle Place, NY

Phone: 1-800-503-9630
Fax: 1-516-237-6000

Share This Page!


First Name:
Last Name:
State: (US inquiries only please)
Capital to Invest

(Min $50k Investment)
Investment Timeframe:

Can I use my 401K or IRA
to buy a business?

Submit your request for a
FREE Franchise Consultation.