Thomas Harman | CEO of Balsam Hill

Kit Kats and Snack Mix

Thanksgiving is just around the corner (mmm…pumpkin pie!), which means it is already time to design new Christmas trees for next year! To my knowledge, we are now one of just two Christmas tree companies who designs and manufactures our own trees (everyone else buys their trees through wholesale brokers).  Designing and producing our own trees is a huge undertaking, but one we feel is well worth it to ensure that we bring the highest quality, most realistic artificial Christmas trees to our customers.

Although it is a long trip, I always enjoy travelling to our factory in China to present our latest designs and to review new product samples.  Whenever I meet with our team in China, I always bring them something from the US.  Often, we exchange favorite foods.  Since it is cool this time of year, it’s a great time to bring chocolates without worrying about them melting along the way.  I had some extra space in my luggage this trip so I brought a giant six pound variety pack of favorite Mars, Inc. chocolates: M&Ms, peanut M&Ms, Reese’s, Twix, Snickers, Kit Kat, Milky Way, and Almond Joy.

Earlier this week I brought out the massive bag and there were smiles all around.  We had a great time discussing the pros and cons of each candy bar.  Some were familiar – M&Ms and Snickers are quite common in the stores around our factory (to my palate a Chinese Snickers bar tastes exactly the same as it does in California).  I shared my favorites (Kit Kat) and my least favorite (Milky Way).  Next time, maybe I’ll have to bring both Mounds and Almond Joy and sing the song (provided no one has a  video camera to capture it…)

In return, we snacked on a snack mix from one of my colleague’s hometowns in Sichuan Province.  It was a combination of candied popcorn, peas (similar to wasabi peas without the wasabi), and dried sliced fruit (we still haven’t figured out what the English name is for the fruit).  Delicious!  I can’t wait to see what we’ll decide to share with each other on my next trip!

About the Author
Thomas is as an operator and investor in consumer brands and consumer Internet companies. Since founding ecommerce retailer Balsam Hill, Thomas has launched several other national brands under the Balsam Brands umbrella including pool retailer Backyard Ocean. Prior to founding Balsam Brands, Thomas ran a contract manufacturing company, worked in consumer products marketing, business development, and as a management consultant.

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