PHYLLIS LEBLANC, OWNER & CEO
Equestrian Phyllis LeBlanc brings the discipline of competitive dressage to her role as CEO/Owner of beloved New England chocolate maker Harbor Sweets, where she has worked and risen through the ranks for more than 23 years. After buying the company, LeBlanc made it her mission to uphold the personal touch which is a hallmark of the business from its hands-on manufacturing, to packaging and shipping. Under her leadership, Harbor Sweets continues to grow and harkens back to a simpler age, when handcrafted chocolate had not surrendered to mass production. The company is based in its original historic red brick building in Salem, Massachusetts, where it has been producing handcrafted chocolates in molds and copper kettles since its 1973 founding. LeBlanc has added three new product lines and increased profits significantly. She attributes the longevity of the company to its ability to uphold bygone values and to use all natural ingredients despite cost increases.
Her relationship with the brand started in 1977 while a student at Salem State University. LeBlanc was a part-time employee at Harbor Sweets, dipping chocolates. Having an ambitious spirit, she became proficient in all aspects of candy production, shipping, and administration, and soon became the company’s wholesale marketing manager. For the next five years and after graduation, she contributed enormously to the company's growth. After becoming executive vice president and COO, LeBlanc attended Boston University’s MBA program at night. An entrepreneurship class sparked the idea to merge her chocolate career, love of horses and dressage into a new line of chocolates. Within four weeks of its launch, Harbor Sweets’ Dark Horse Chocolates® had paid for its development costs. It is now sold at upscale equestrian outlets and gourmet shops throughout the United States.
LeBlanc became president and COO of Harbor Sweets at a time when the brand was seeking new ownership. With a deep personal affiliation and concern that the Harbor Sweets’ beloved brand philosophy of personal attention might change with a new owner, LeBlanc purchased majority control of the company. Harbor Sweets founder Ben Strohecker was delighted to have someone he trusted carry on his dream.
When not at Harbor Sweets and bringing sweet delight to her customers, LeBlanc keeps her life in balance through her passions for horses and gardening. A lifelong lover of horses, she received her first pony, Sequoia, when she was 13. It was Able, LeBlanc's black Hanoverian, who initially sparked the idea for Dark Horse Chocolates. Her gardens at home influenced the development of Perennial Sweets® Gift Chocolates.
LeBlanc serves on the Board of Trustees of the House of the Seven Gables, the Board of Directors of The New England Dressage Association, and is a incorporator of Bankcorp. She resides in Bradford, Massachusetts with her husband, her horse and two dogs.