A super sweet disguise for Purdy’s executive
Kriston Dean knew just how dedicated the employees of Purdy’s Chocolates are, but she was still a little bit surprised when she learned the true level of their commitment.
“The most interesting thing for me was seeing the dedication of the employees,” Dean said.
“I expected that level of dedication, but I didn’t expect it to the degree that I witnessed it.
“That is not something we train from a book or a binder. That was just from these individuals and how they work everyday.”
Dean is the director of chocolate merchandising and marketing at Purdy’s Chocolates. The company, which is Western Canada’s largest and Canada’s second largest retailer of specialty chocolates, was approached by the TV show Undercover Boss Canada.
The show, produced by Alliance Films, follows company executives as they leave their offices and go undercover on the ground floor and work side-by-side with other frontline workers.
However, it was determined that Purdy’s owner Karen Flavelle was too recognizable, so Dean was tapped to go undercover.
The 36-year-old Dean, who lives in Willoughby with her husband Kelly, 10-year-old daughter Abby and eight-year-old son Memphis, was transformed into “rocker chick” Devon Norris, complete with wig and tattoos.
Filming lasted seven days and took place at Purdy’s stores in Toronto and Edmonton, as well as in the factory kitchen in Vancouver.
Dean said some of the challenges included “not speaking corporately and not answering questions or offering suggestions while she was in disguise.”
“And the constant worry of being recognized or detected,” she said. “That weighs a lot on your psyche when you are in that situation.”
It was in the kitchen where Dean saw just how much pride the employees take in making the perfect product, especially one of the ladies who was showing Dean the ropes.
“She really took that personally and made sure that was what I delivered,” Dean said.
“She really made me work to understand the importance of that.”
There were a few tense moments when Dean nearly blew her cover, and another time when she was responsible for halting production after she broke a machine.
“I didn’t have a hard time reacting to the new name or being called (Devon), that actually came a lot easier than I thought it was going to,” she said. “There were situations where you just fall into old habits and that is really hard to train yourself not to do when you are only in character for seven days.”
Overall, the whole experience was very worthwhile.
“From a business perspective, there are definitely things we learned,” she said.
“It is not all roses, for sure. There were opportunities for us to do things better, which we have implemented.”
The episode airs tonight (Thursday) at 9 p.m. on the