Pampered Chef Founded: 1980 Headquarters: Addison, IL Top Executive: Andrew Treanor, CEO Products: Cooking tools, cookware, seasoning blends
Decades before busy schedules and technology lured us away from the dinner table, Doris Christopher knew how important it was for families to connect over a meal. She built a company around those connections, creating high-quality kitchen tools and an opportunity for women to succeed professionally and personally, without sacrificing time around the table.
Throughout the different seasons of her life, Doris Christopher saw how powerful sharing a family meal could be. Her mother had modeled it, working multiple jobs but still finding time to share a meal with her family. Doris took that example and carried it into her own motherhood, coupling it with her career in home economics to make great meals for her young family. Pampered Chef was born from that same desire to bring families back to the table. Forty years, five countries and 55,000 consultants later, her vision continues to serve families around the world.
Today Pampered Chef is a Berkshire Hathaway Company, with Doris serving as Founder and Chairman and Andrew Treanor as Chief Executive Officer. He sees more consistency than change as he looks back at the company’s four decades in the kitchen.
“While so much has changed since Doris founded Pampered Chef 40 years ago, the most important things have remained the same,” he explains. “The mealtime solutions we deliver and the flexible business opportunity we offer our consultants are more relevant than ever.We’re on a mission to continue empowering people to achieve mealtime wins, so they can spend more time connecting with the ones they love most and less time worrying about how they’ll get there.”
Pampered Chef consultants in the United States, Canada, Germany, Austria and recently launched France enjoy a flexible business they can balance alongside their families. Aspiring consultants can choose from three starter kits featuring Pampered Chef’s signature products, many of which have been staples for decades. The company’s unglazed stoneware has stood the test of time—a pizza stone was the star of Doris’ first Pampered Chef party. Today, home cooks can browse kitchen tools, cookware and bakeware, small appliances, pieces for entertaining and exclusive seasoning blends.
In 2019, the line expanded to include Enrichables™, powdered real food products customers can add to recipes to make mealtimes more nutritious. The most recent addition to the Pampered Chef collection as of October 2020 is Tastebuds, a monthly seasoning and meal inspiration subscription service to “spice up” the family meal rotation.
Consultants In (and Out) of the Kitchen
While Pampered Chef parties were traditionally served in the kitchen, like most in the social selling industry, consultants gradually began to move their businesses online. The company moved quickly to equip the field with all the tools they’d need to succeed in this new virtual arena.
“A few years ago, we began making significant investments into technology that allows our consultants to run their businesses entirely virtually, right from their phone,” says Treanor. “Consultants can now access training, order business supplies, manage orders and provide customer service from their mobile devices.”
Doris’ vision of a family-friendly business opportunity was accommodating consultants in yet a new way, one that gave them even more flexibility to balance work and home. Chief Field and International Officer Nevena Srebreva sees this change as just another way Pampered Chef is making both consultants’ and customers’ lives a little bit easier.
“We’ve seen a growing shift to virtual parties, which reflects today’s busy lifestyle and customers’ evolving expectations,” Srebreva says. “Thanks to technology, physical boundaries are eliminated, which means a consultant in Vermont can now easily hold a party with hosts and guests in Oregon. Over the past several years, we’ve evolved to a more digital company with a more tech-savvy consultant base.”
This virtual shift couldn’t have been better timed. What began as a gradual shift toward online parties grew to 50 percent of the company’s business in 2019. This year’s COVID-19 pandemic shifted that percentage dramatically.
“Beginning in March 2020, amid the pandemic, [our virtual party business] grew to nearly 100 percent—and we were prepared to accommodate that shift with the investment we’d made in technology and tools,” explains Treanor. “This forward-looking approach has helped us achieve, and exceed our goals for 2020.”
Setting a Global Table
Pampered Chef expanded beyond North America in 2000 with the launch of operations in Germany. What may have been a slow and steady approach to the European market is now gaining speed. The company opened in Austria in September 2019 and recently opened in France in November 2020 with plans for expansion on the horizon.
“We have a long-term strategy of international expansion that’s about more than just entering new countries,” explains Treanor. “It’s about the opportunity to enrich more lives around the globe. This fall, we announced Pampered Chef’s expansion to France. This is Pampered Chef’s third market in Europe, with Germany (2000) and Austria (2019). We are highly motivated to continue our expansion in these markets and beyond, which is exciting.”
Regardless of which side of the pond their consultants hail from, Pampered Chef sees each one as a member of the family, occupying an important seat at their growing table.
“What’s most special about Pampered Chef is the people—our consultants, our customers and our team of coworkers at Home Office,” says Treanor. “Everything we do is about making a difference in the lives of others through our mealtime solutions and the flexible business opportunity we offer. Over the last five years, we have focused on strengthening the foundation of the business and creating new engines for growth—and we did it all in close partnership with our consultants. As a result, we’re a more diverse company that is experiencing meaningful growth.”