Meet Ellen (Lampman) Reed the former Director of Purchasing, chocolate mint aficionado, and now Vice President of Lake Champlain Chocolates.
Ask Ellen about how long she has worked at LCC and she will laugh and tell you, “forever.” This is no exaggeration. Ellen’s Lake Champlain Chocolates story started in 1983, when she was just three years old. Her father, Jim Lampman, had just sold his restaurant, the Ice House, in order to pursue his passion of crafting and selling gourmet chocolates. Ellen has fond memories of visiting her dad at work, watching him hand package holiday chocolate assortments.
Being fanatical about irresistibly delicious chocolates comes easy to Ellen. (I mean, how can it not when one of the first chocolates you eat is a Legendary Dark Chocolate Truffle?! After all, they are called Legendary for a reason.) In true chocolate fanatic form, Ellen lights up every time she talks about chocolate. “The other day I had a Honey Caramel. I forgot just how good they are….I mean it’s such an original flavor.” But, Ellen is a mint enthusiast through and through. She even had a delicious chocolate mint named after her – Ellen’s Mints. These days, Peppermint Jubilees are her go-to chocolates.
Ellen joined the LCC family at a young age. In the beginning, she would help her dad bag candy for the retail store. Later, in high school, she would help make ice cream and worked as a sales associate at the first LCC retail store on the Church Street Marketplace. Ellen took a brief hiatus to get her B.S. in Business Administration from Colby Sawyer. (Ask her about the time in college when her parents sent a care package containing not one, but four Mr. HaHa chocolate Easter bunnies – a bunny that stands 2 feet tall and weighs over 23 lbs each!) After graduating from college, Ellen joined the purchasing department, where she managed the purchasing of all packing supplies, labels, ribbons, raw ingredients, and of course chocolate!
Ellen has lots of memorable moments at LCC; however, it’s not one specific memory that stands out. It’s about the progression:
“It’s not one defining moment that stands out, but in looking back, it is just amazing to see how far we have come. When I first started there was a only a handful of us working in a tiny office space. Back then purchase orders would go missing, scheduling was done on a white board, and it was just chaos…Since then, every aspect of the company has evolved. Our systems are more accurate, and we are more efficient.”
This evolution continues as family-owned Lake Champlain Chocolates transitions to the second generation and Ellen’s role shifts from purchasing to an overall operations and project manager. In keeping with the Fair for Life fair trade principles that she helped implement, Ellen would like Lake Champlain Chocolates to have more direct supply chains and more organic and fair trade certified products. “I would love to see us use more direct trade bean to bar chocolate, produced by our very own Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker, in LCC confections…the Five Star Chocolate Caramel bar is just the first step.” Her passion is to have Lake Champlain Chocolates continue to evolve and raise the [chocolate] bar by increasing supply transparency.