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Alumni Stories

Ryan Abood '97

Ryan Abood ‘97 must need to pinch himself every morning as he pulls into the parking lot of GourmetGiftBaskets.com’s forever home. Cheesecake, wine, popcorn, cheese, candy, beer, maple syrup…chances are any treat you like, can be part of a “gourmet gift basket.” Despite the busyness of the season, Ryan was delighted to show off his new facility and share a bit about his path from his days at Derryfield to today.

Ryan is the son of entrepreneurial parents who brought the local florist Chalifour’s out of bankruptcy and built it into a thriving Manchester business. In an entrepreneurial class at College of Charleston, Ryan had the opportunity to research and develop a business plan. While a number of his classmates delved into this work at large, big brand companies like Nike and Starbucks, Ryan wanted to try to bring something to fruition. This was the launch of Gourmet Gift Baskets in the basement of Chalifour’s on the south end of Elm Street in Manchester. With a few stops in between, the company of 55 employees (+100 flex workers at the holidays) moved into a custom-designed 106,000 square foot facility in Exeter in February. Of this space, 90% is warehouse, 10% office, and 100% thriving - especially at this time of year!

Ryan was a self-described nerd at Derryfield who spent a lot of time with Mr. Lemire doing computers and robotics, as well as some CAD and taking it well beyond what Derryfield had to offer. He also is one of our lucky alumni who was Keinerized in middle school by Mr. Keiner; he credits those organizational systems for helping him through college, grad school, and even in his work today.

You can literally see Ryan’s mind churning as he wanders through R&D, packing, shipping, and receiving; always thinking about ways to improve the process, to increase efficiency, and in turn, productivity. If what is needed to excel does not exist, they create it: the most efficient custom-built furniture, ribbon cutters and measures, and printer loading rigs for their custom designed labels. This new shipping label is one of his latest creations, with a personalized greeting card that can include photos and logos. Ryan’s integrated greeting card and shipping label was designed by him and his team and ultimately executed by Amherst Label, another Derryfield family company run by Nick Calvetti, father of Angela Horner ’92, and Nye Hornor ’85, Angela’s husband.

In addition to the label, Ryan innovated a new plan to increase production. As one of the first boys in New Hampshire to get Nintendo for Christmas, Ryan is an insider in gaming and computers. (The server is the first thing he showed with pride on the tour!) This summer he found a way to bring it into the workplace. He created a push button system with a gaming component to create friendly competition among the employees. Who knows? The one who produces the most baskets in one morning might be treated to lunch on the company!

If everything goes as planned, Ryan will be relaxing on the beach in Aruba after the holiday madness, but now he is full out! Looking for a gift idea? Perhaps a gourmet gift basket is just the thing!
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