Sweet Success
By Ian Mount

(FORTUNE Small Business) – The founders of Joseph Schmidt Confections and Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker found a new kind of richness on Aug. 15, when Hershey announced it had bought their Bay Area companies. Joseph Schmidt started making truffles in 1983 with chocolate left over when his girlfriend shut down her petits fours business. Scharffen Berger came together in 1996, when former physician Robert Steinberg started the business with friend John Scharffenberger, who had just sold his winery. Hershey approached the two about becoming part of its new Artisan Confections division. For Schmidt, it was the proverbial offer he couldn't refuse. "I'm 67, and it's wonderful to know you can do any fun thing you ever thought of doing," he says. Steinberg felt his business had gone as far as he and Scharffenberger could take it. Hershey will pay between $47 million and $61 million for both companies (depending on their growth through 2007), which together bring in about $25 million annually. A sales multiple of 1.9 to 2.4 would be a good deal for the duo, says Peter King, CEO of VR Mergers & Acquisitions, explaining that food manufacturers normally sell for about 1.6 times earnings. --I.M.