Sandy, Utah


Sandy, Utah

Founded: 2012

Privately owned

Employees: 55

CEO Jake Cavanaugh understands that it’s good to be king, especially the king of chocolate in Utah.

But the title comes serious responsibility. Especially around Halloween.

“Yes, I pass out our Utah Truffles,” Cavanaugh admits. “There is an expectation with my job in my neighborhood. It is a good thing and a bad thing.”

A relatively new manufacturer, The Cacao Group is an umbrella company for three main chocolate companies: Utah Truffles, Cold Stone Chocolate, and Amber Lyn Chocolates.

Each brand has a particular specialty and is sold here in the United States as well as internationally. Utah Truffles are manufactured from blocks of European chocolate. When the blocks arrive in Utah, special ingredients are added to make the perfect truffle — or even chocolate-covered cinnamon bears, oranges, or pretzels.

Cold Stone Chocolate takes the flavors of Cold Stone Creamery ice cream to make a new scrumptious chocolate experience.

And Amber Lyn Chocolates are not only sugar free, they are also gluten free and a low net-carb option for connoisseurs on a carb-restricted diet.

“Amber Lyn Chocolates has a huge following,” says Cavanaugh. “We are really the only players playing in the premium sugar free recipe space. We are also in the early stages of creating Amber Lyn Candies so diabetics will have options to purchase other sugar free candy as well,” he says. The catalog even includes, amazingly enough, a sugar free jelly bean.

And all of this began in Cavanaugh’s parents’ basement in 1993.

“My father [Keith Cavanaugh] has always loved chocolate,” Cavanaugh shares. “He developed a passion for it. He was never trying to create a company. He just developed an awesome truffle recipe, and we still use that recipe today.”

Keith remains involved with the company. “My dad comes in to work today and cannot believe how big we are and how we’ve grown,” he adds. “It’s so cool for him to see that.”

The three-brand umbrella came to be when Cavanaugh joined Utah Truffles in 2012. “I felt limited with the name and the market,” he says. “I wanted to expand and began picking up other companies and other brands which would allow us to branch out. Just as Nestle has different brands under its umbrella — Twizzlers and chocolate chips and candy bars — well, that’s the model we are following. And multiple brands and national as well as international distribution gives us many options.”

Challenges: “Keeping up with the growth,” Cavanaugh admits. “We grew from a small ma and pa company to a mid-size company in a matter of three years.” He finds that the physical aspects of growth, such as purchasing new equipment and moving into a new 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, has been a challenge to keep up with. But, he admits, as far as challenges go, it is a good challenge to face.

Opportunities: The Cacao Group looks forward to dominating the sugar-free market. “Diabetes is such a growing problem,” Cavanaugh says. Around 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and, according to Cavanaugh, an additional ten percent are undiagnosed. “It’s a major problem, and we have chocolate products that really help. We now have an opportunity to provide sugar-free chocolate unlike any other and are manufacturing an indulgent treat that can be enjoyed by diabetics. Once they find us, once they try our chocolates, they are sold. We have a customer for life.”

Needs: Whether it’s corporate gifts, new macadamia-crusted chocolates or sweet bite-sized conversation truffles just for Valentine’s Day, the company is actively trying to find, fill and dominate new niches in the chocolate market. “We have created something that is reasonably priced and can be anyone’s indulgence — their special treat. We have awesome options for everybody.”