A Madison scout marcher turned chocolatier is giving back to the organization that kept him in the country after his move from Holland.
Tom Stam is the owner of a Chocolaterie Stam, a chocolate franchise found throughout the Midwest. Three years ago, Stam opened a shop in Middleton that donates all of its profits to the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps, which he was a member of about 30 years ago.
The Madison Scouts is a world-class competitive junior drum and bugle corps founded in 1938. Stam said the organization is a nonprofit which provides a program for youth interested in music and offers members performance trainings.
The Scouts has been present in Madison for 75 years and is well-known throughout the world, Stam said. Its mission is to teach values such as honesty, integrity and accountability. While marching for the Scouts in 1981, Stam said he learned a lot.
“I think the Scouts taught me that you don’t put yourself first, you put others first. You must care about the group, care about excellence and care about others,” Stam said.
Stam currently serves on its Board of Directors, helping with the long-term planning of events and its long term financial situation. Stam said his job is to make sure the organization continues to run so kids in the future can also benefit from the experience.
The Middleton shop Stam opened has received a lot of enthusiasm, he said. While the shop’s success was slow at first, they have seen significant improvement each year due to the increasing shops in the area, he said.
Stam’s family has been involved in the chocolate business for 101 years. He said their dedication to chocolate inspired him to open his shops.
“I was literally born above a chocolate shop. Having chocolate in my life was pretty much unavoidable,” Stam said. “It’s funny because we now have generations of my family born above that same chocolate shop.”
However, Stam said chocolate as a career was not always his plan. Originally from Holland, Stam had the intention of being a financial planner when he came to the United States. Although his family had a history of chocolate making, he said his father never pressured him or his brothers to go into the business.
After noticing a lack of quality chocolate Stam opened his first shop in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1998. The shops first just had a variety of chocolates that were imported from Holland. Now, they have their own fine chocolates in many varieties and are made in the United States. The shops also sell fresh Italian gelato that is made right in the store and many also sell their own brand of coffee, he said.
The franchise currently has nine shops and Stam said he hopes to have between 20 and 25 shops by the year 2020.