Gordon Flesch and Chocolaterie Stam: More good news stories

What does a technology company have in common with a chocolate store? Both businesses share a commitment to community handed down directly from the companies’ founders, and today you can learn more about two different approaches to making this a better place to live and work.

Gordon Flesch Co., Inc. will be honored as “Outstanding Business or Corporation (100+ employees)” at the 2013 Philanthropy Day Awards program this year. The family-owned business, which was started in 1956 by Gordon Flesch, now employs more than 600 people throughout 21 Midwestern offices, with the corporate headquarters in Madison. The Gordon Flesch name has long been synonymous with business technology; however, over time sons Bill, John, and Tom have transitioned into leadership roles and the business has transitioned from equipment reseller to integrated business technology solutions provider.

Managed by company associates, the Gordon Flesch Company Charitable Foundations contributes up to $100,000 annually to nonprofits located in their service communities, focusing on grants to nonprofits assisting people dealing with disease, illness, or disaster. John Flesch personally reviews each application for funding or scholarships, and collectively, the company has awarded more than $1 million since 2002 to organizations in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin. In this region, this year’s grants are specifically targeted for VSA Wisconsin, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, and Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Over the past decade, the company has also donated more than $300,000 to support St. Mary’s Foundation causes.

The business further established the Gordon J. Flesch scholarship program to serve dependent children of company associates; recipients use the money to help fund post-high school studies in an accredited vocational-technical college or university.

We’re getting closer to the 2013 National Philanthropy Day Awards, presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals at the 26th annual awards luncheon on Friday, Nov. 1 at the Overture Center for the Arts. To learn more about the Gordon Flesch Co. and other area philanthropists, register to attend the awards luncheon on Nov. 1! Join me in congratulating all entrants for helping make this region a great place to live.

Ton Stam, Chocolatier

There are more than a handful of award winners contributing to the area’s recipe for success, and I love sharing good news about other people whom you otherwise might not hear about, like Ton Stam.

Ton originally came to the U.S. in 1980 to participate in the Madison Scouts, whose mission is to develop young men through musical enrichment and performance art. That experience and a newfound love of this area were carried back to his homeland. He formally immigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands in the early 1980s, and in 1997, he became the family’s third generation to sell chocolates in a shopping mall kiosk.



Flash-forward and Ton opens a couple stores in the Des Moines, Iowa market; flash-forward again, and Ton strengthens his ties to the Madison Scouts by taking a seat on its board of directors. As that relationship continued to grow, he opened Chocolatierie Stam in 2010 in Middleton. However, this store was quickly differentiated from his other holdings in one important regard: All proceeds from the store directly benefited the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps and other nonprofit organizations.

The Greenway Station store is still gaining traction, specializing in exquisite bon bons and gelato. It’s a tight-margin business, but even so, Chocolaterie Stam has donated between $5,000 and $10,000 a year to the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps to cover travel expenses for the players. The store also supports Gilda’s Club, the Rape Crisis Center, Meals on Wheels, Gio’s Garden, Girls on the Run, and Holy Wisdom Monastery.

This isn’t Ton’s first foray into charitable giving. The original Des Moines store organizes an annual Run for Chocolate, and the 2,000 annual participants raise money for the cancer care coordinator program at John Stoddard Cancer Center.

I intend to stop by the Greenway store and indulge in a little choc-o-late, knowing the backstory. It’s a business I’d like to support, and I hope to see you there, too!

Do you have a good news profile you’d like shared? Email me and fill me in on the details as I continue with several more “good news” stories about your neighbors and area business leaders!

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