ANTIGONISH: Tareq Hadhad remains humble speaking about his chocolate company because he knows all too well everything his family has built in the past three years could very well never have happened.
Recently the family and company celebrated their three year business anniversary of their Antigonish-built and rebranded family chocolate company, Peace by Chocolate. Hadhad, who is the family’s eldest son and the founder and CEO of the family company says this is an outstanding moment for them.
“If you asked us three years from now where do we see Peace by Chocolate, we’ll still say that we’re still on Main Street in a little tiny shed, distributing our products in a chain of farmer’s markets and gift stores across Antigonish, New Glasgow and Cape Breton,” Hadhad told The Reporter. “But really what happened is it went way beyond that, it went bigger and we kind of reached our first Canadian dream by accomplishing and opening a new factory and starting distributing nationally.”
Three-years-ago, the Hadhad family was making 200 pieces of chocolate every week in their family kitchen and selling it at the Antigonish Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning. Today, their national distribution deal has them on shelves from coast-to-coast in chains like, Sobeys, Lawtons, Safe Way, and Thrifty’s, along with having their products on Amazon.ca, in airports across the country and their personal retail Web site.
“We are really celebrating everything regarding the expansion and the growth, but mainly it’s about the people who supported us,” Hadhad said. “Peace by Chocolate is a cause more than a business, and that cause was built by the support from our community.”
Just a few years ago, the Syrian family was fighting for survival as refugees, but after arriving in Antigonish, the Hadhad’s wanted to bring chocolate, the product of happiness, to the people of their new home and restore their Damascus chocolate business which was started in 1986 and was completely destroyed in late 2012 by bombings.
He said their family is forever grateful to Antigonish, as it’s the town that believed in them and they believe in Antigonish. It’s now their permanent home and if the family had landed in a large city like Toronto, they truly believe they would have just been a number.
“If we become one of the Top 5 chocolate companies in Canada – like we are targeting right now, Antigonish will always be our HQ,” Hadhad said. “The major work facility will always stay in Antigonish – the proud home of Peace by Chocolate.”
As a way to honour their three year anniversary, which is in perfect timing with back-to-school season, Peace by Chocolate will be releasing something special under the theme “peaceful playgrounds,” and will be hitting store shelves at the beginning of September.
The success of Peace by Chocolate in such a short timeframe is inspirational, encouraging, and wholesome.
On top of being named by Google as the National Hero Case in its “Grow with Google” program last September, Peace by Chocolate was recently named the Business of Diversity Champion of the Year at the Nova Scotia Business Inc. 2019 Nova Scotia Export Achievement Awards.
“It means a lot we were competing with businesses that have been in Nova Scotia for decades, for us to win, this award really meant a lot,” Hadhad said. “Our work has been appreciated and recognized and there are so many people out of the town in the province that are proud of our success.”
He expressed how thankful and grateful the family was to Nova Scotia Business Inc., as this was a milestone in their lives and out of all the awards they have won, this one was very special as “this comes from the heart, to the heart.”
Hadhad explained the greatest success in the first three years is not measured by numbers, it’s not measured by how many stores they’re in and it’s not measured by how many products they sold or distributed.
“It’s measured by how many people did we add to our family, and the biggest success we have right now, is we added 5,000 people to the Hadhad family, everyone in the town now is part of our bigger family, and everyone of them believe in us, and that’s absolutely what matters,” he said. “It’s about the people that came and stood in line, for the first time we were at the farmer’s market, three-years-ago, lining up 200, knowing nothing or the taste of our products, they believed in us and something new and something special, something unique.”
Looking forward to 2020, Hadhad added hopes to establish a tourism campaign to promote Antigonish as they break into the American markets.
“It gives us great motivation and determination to continue what we are doing, this is just the beginning for Peace by Chocolate.”