Doug Simons has changed sales and marketing approaches over the years, but one thing remains constant at Enstrom Candies. The fourth quarter is always the busiest, and therefore most lucrative, time of the year.
“Eighty percent of our business is in the final quarter,” said Simons, president and co-owner of Enstrom Candies, which is celebrating 50 years of operation in downtown Grand Junction.
Mail order sales during the holiday season account for about half of sales and 65 percent of the company’s business, Simons said.
Retail sales at the company’s five outlets in Colorado remain important during the rest of the year, however, accounting for about 35 percent of business. Through early November, Simons said about 68 percent of business this year came through retail outlets. In addition to its famous almond toffee, Enstrom offers gourmet coffee, ice cream, assorted candies and gifts.
Enstrom Candies operates a retail outlet at its headquarters at 701 Colorado Ave. in downtown Grand Junction. Enstrom Candies also operates two other stores in the Grand Valley: in the Corner Square development near First Street and Patterson Road in Grand Junction and in the Kokopelli Plaza at 401 Kokopelli Blvd., Suite 2 in Fruita. Enstrom Candies also operates retail outlets at the Park Meadows and Flatiron Crossing malls in the Denver area.
Long-distance sales are nothing new for Enstrom Candies.
“We were born in the mail order business in 1960,” Simons said. “(Company founder) Chet Enstrom said to people, ‘We’re making toffee and would you like us to send some?’”
Simons joined the company in 1979. His wife, Jamee Simons, is the granddaughter of Chet Enstrom and the current co-owner along with Doug.
In 1979, the company had two phone lines and mail orders took priority over orders coming in by phone.
“I said, ‘This is crazy,’” said Doug Simons, who saw the potential for growth through mail-order sales. By the early 1980s, the company added phone banks and a computer system. Enstrom’s subsequently developed a website before Amazon.com had a website, he added.
The company made the transition from an operation with 10,000 customers on Rolodex cards to an operation with a customer data base on a computer hard drive.
These days, Internet sales constitute the fastest-growing portion of the business. The company has started a new process in which it electronically re-enters orders from last year, ensuring customers will get the same products they ordered in 2009 if they choose to sign up for the system. Enstrom’s ships to about 1,000 locations.
As for large corporate orders, businesses can put an order in a spreadsheet and print, fax or e-mail the order to Enstrom Candies. Enstrom Candies can even e-mail a previous year’s order back to a company, which can make changes and e-mail the spreadsheet to Enstrom’s to place a new order.
Simons said total company sales are 3 percent to 5 percent ahead of last year’s pace, and he hopes the new systems will help ensure a strong holiday season for the company.