Cherokee leads sales team for sweet company
Cherokee Nation citizen Dan Brown, his wife, Courtney, and their children, Kaylee, 3, and Carter, 9 months, are seen in May. Dan is enjoying a successful career with the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. COURTESY
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company log. COURTESY
ROGERS, Ark. – Dan Brown, a Cherokee Nation citizen with a sweet tooth, has carved out a successful career with the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, one of the oldest confectioners in the country.
“I’m a people person,” Brown said. “This year it’s been a lot of Zoom calls. But just that kind of servant mentality and helping customers find a product that helps them grow their business is appealing to me.”
Brown, 53, has worked at Ghirardelli for nearly nine years, the past two as director of national accounts in the company’s professional products division.
“I lead a sales team,” Brown said. “We work with national chains. For instance, Arby’s has a couple of cookies and we sell the ingredients to the cookie manufacturer that makes those for them. We work with Arby’s for the marketing of that. It kind of goes hand in hand. Jimmy John’s has a cookie that uses three of our chocolate chips, and we work with them to market that as ‘made with Ghirardelli.’”
He grew up in Vinita, Oklahoma, where he attended high school before attending Oklahoma City University to play baseball.
“From there I transferred over to (the University of Arkansas) and played baseball over there,” Brown said.
Brown later pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies’ minor league team while working for Tyson Foods in the offseason. His career eventually led him to Florida, where he’s lived for the past 20 years.
“I’m moving back closer to home,” he said of a recent move to Rogers. “ My parents live over in Vinita. Florida is great and I love the weather. But you know, it’s good to get back closer to home. People have those Midwest values.”
Brown said he’s also excited to live closer to the Cherokee Nation. Being Cherokee is “very much a sense of identity,” he said.
“It’s a feeling of being connected to those ancestors that came across the Trail of Tears,” he added.
Ghirardelli, a U.S. division of Swiss confectioner Lindt & Sprüngli, was incorporated in 1852 and is the third-oldest chocolate company in the United States.
“Ghirardelli is really big into diversity and inclusion, so they were ecstatic to welcome him to be able to address our group,” Brown said. “We had so many positive comments.”
Brown and his wife, Courtney, have two children, Kaylee, 3, and Carter, 9 months.