HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The Hillsborough Education Foundation is searching for six CEOs by Nov. 4, as part of its annual CEOs in Schools program, where local CEOs spend the day at schools meeting with students and sharing their secrets to success.

What You Need To Know

  • The Hillsborough Education Foundation will be hosting its annual CEOs in Schools program on Nov. 4 

  • The organization is looking for six more CEOs to share their secrets to success with students

  • Grant Gappelberg, the 19-year-old co-owner and CEO of the Hampton Chocolate Factory, spent some time with a group of fourth graders at Lockhart Elementary School and talked about his role as a young CEO

The co-owner and CEO of the Hampton Chocolate Factory, Grant Gappelberg, met with students at Lockhart Elementary School and gave students a preview of what’s to come on Nov. 4.  

“It all started eight years ago — I was 11 at the time, my brother was 13 and our dad started the company," he said. "We were fortunate to grow up in the wonderful world of chocolate, learn about the business and the wonderful world of business in general.” 

Gappelberg said he spends most of his days running the chocolate factory in Sparkman Wharf. Despite being only 19, Gappelberg has a lot of business knowledge and moved to Tampa to run the family business while pursuing higher education at the University of Tampa.  

On Wednesday, he spent some time with a group of fourth graders, telling them all about his role as CEO.  

Lockhart Elementary principal Natalie Corsanico said relating to students is what it’s all about. She also said that Gappelberg's age makes it easier for students to hear his story and visualize what their own futures may hold.  

“When they see in action and they can see exactly what they’re working for and working toward, that’s everything," she said. "Any chance we have to show our students what hard work in school can then translate to success in life is huge."

Gappelberg’s success story is, of course, extra sweet and he hopes his story will inspire students to pursue their dreams — even if they want to becoming the next Willy Wonka.  

“I can really relate to kids," Gappelberg said. "They don’t look at me the same way they might look at an older CEO. They look at me as someone they’re going to be in the next 5-10 years, so they admire that I’ve been able to achieve my dreams already and I’m sure this is some of their dreams. Kid in a chocolate factory, right?”

For information on ways to get involved, visit the CEOs in Schools program website