Malley’s Chocolates is a progressive company, proud of its place in the community and the more than eight decades it has been a part of it.
Mike had worked as a boy in Meadville, Pennsylvania, learning how to create hand-made chocolates using a simple copper pot over an open flame. He brought that experience with him to Lakewood, Ohio, where he used a small $500 loan to rent a store front and living quarters, and purchase the supplies needed to open the first Malley’s Chocolates. Word of Malley’s deliciousness spread, and by the time Mike opened his second ice cream parlor and chocolate store location in 1949, Lakewood police had to be called in to control the crowds.
Mike and Jo’s son, Bill, grew up working in the family business, helping open new stores. When he became president of Malley’s Chocolates in 1967, Bill oversaw the expansion of the chocolate kitchen and factory – which had to be moved twice to larger locations to accommodate growing popularity. Bill’s wife, Adele Ryan Malley, was an integral part of the growth of the business as well. The classic green, white, and pink color combination and casual, upscale ambiance of all the Malley’s Chocolate Shoppes and Ice Cream Parlors reflect her vision for the family business. In 1983, Adele even founded the Malley’s School of Merchandising to advise other confectioners on maximizing sales through interesting store layouts, high-impact packaging, store lighting and product presentation.
83 years later, Mike Malley would be amazed to see what an impact his American dream has had on the Northeast Ohio community.
Malley’s Chocolates is still a family company with all six of Adele and Bill Malley’s children — Mike, Bill, Dan, Patrick, Sis and Megan — hard at work in the business. But when Mike Malley enthusiastically talks about his job, it certainly doesn’t sound like work. “Our business is chocolate,” he muses. “I call that fun. Our entire culture can be described as a fun place to work.”
These third generation Malleys aren’t the only ones having fun. Mike describes how every Malley’s retail manager treats their store as if it is their own business. “Our customers love our retail store managers,” he says. “We are blessed. It’s a family atmosphere. We have employees who have been with us for over 30 years.” During the hiring process, Malley’s looks for people with a “can do” attitude and a solid work ethic. Mike notes that if they find the right people for a position, Malley’s is willing to invest in their training.
“Our business is chocolate... I call that fun. Our entire culture can be described as a fun place to work.”
Mike says he and his siblings are grateful for the sacrifices their parents and grandparents made to start, maintain and grow the company. “The business was handed to us in terrific shape,” he says. “I watched my parents make some tough decisions, such as second mortgages on their house, to plan for the future.” Today, Malley’s has 23 retail locations throughout Northeast Ohio. What’s next? The family is always focusing on ways to grow. Just like many companies, Malley’s is on the lookout for new markets and customers. Whatever the “next chapter” is, Mike is sure Malley’s will adhere to the core principles that have been the keys to their success including “making a very good product for a fair value that is manufactured in a responsible way.”
An interview with Mike Malley is not complete without discovering his favorite Malley’s chocolate. The answer: Bordeaux. “Our rich English toffee crunch center, covered in milk chocolate, and rolled with a crunchy almond finish,” he describes with delight. His close second is the “sweet and salty” mix of chocolate pretzels.
Jeff Consolo, the leader of McDonald Hopkins’ Tax and Benefits Department, has provided estate planning services to the Malleys for nearly 40 years. “Jeff has helped us navigate many succession, tax and estate planning issues,” Mike says. “His advice was very helpful to my parents and our business.” Malley’s has worked with others on the McDonald Hopkins team as well. "As a private company that was transitioning to the next generation, consisting of six owners now, we relied on McDonald Hopkins' guidance in establishing good governance to assist us for a smooth transition."