All Big Businesses Start Small: Baker’s Candies

All Big Businesses Start Small: Baker’s Candies

All Big Businesses Start Small: Baker’s Candies

 

Baker's Candies Nebraska box

Microsoft and Apple started in garages, and Facebook started in a dorm room.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Lynch started selling her famous salad dressing at a Legion Hall in St. Paul, Nebraska. Todd Booth began his successful automotive business by working in the wash bay at a local car dealership after he graduated from high school.

While GROW Nebraska businesses haven’t reached the magnitude of Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, many have grown from small businesses to successful enterprises that are continually increasing sales, creating jobs and bringing Nebraska to the world.

GROW Nebraska members Dorothy Lynch, Jayhawk Boxes, Baker’s Candies, Platte Valley Auto and Fat Boy BBQ are all successful businesses that started small and have grown tremendously in the past few decades.

Success didn’t happen overnight for these small-town Nebraska businesses. From creating quality products to treating customers well and keeping up with technology, each business has created its own unique path to prosperity. And, for many, GROW Nebraska has played a part in their success.

Baker’s Candies

-Greenwood, NE

Baker’s Candies is a relatively new Nebraska business founded in 1987 after Kevin Baker, an aerospace engineer, decided to venture into the candy-making businesses. He applied his engineering skills to design an efficient way to automate the candy-making process. That combined with the mouth-watering unique flavors of Baker’s Candies created a popular candy business that is still family-owned and operated today.

Baker's Candies Family

Our company is really run by a family of engineers rather than chocolatiers or businessmen,” said Kevin’s son, Todd Baker. “We’ve never been great at business, but we’re really, really, good at making (mass producing) chocolate. So, we keep our heads down and do what we do best: Making Nebraska’s chocolate. As long as Nebraskans continue to be proud of our family business and the products that we make here, it has been our experience that they will take care of most of your problems – advertising, marketing, sales, opportunities, etc.”

Baker said their formula for chocolates is “ridiculously simple.”

“We buy the best ingredients on the planet and then make the best chocolates possible for far less cost than our competition,” he said. “We like to think that ‘we make world-class chocolates for regular people,’ a goal that resonates with Nebraskans and others from here in the Midwest.”

people shopping in baker's candies store During the fall of 2019, Baker’s Candies opened the largest candy factory outlet store in Nebraska’s history. It contains almost 6,000 square feet of candy along with other Nebraska food and retail products. All of the store’s products were either made on-site or purchased and resold directly from their manufacturers. Many GROW Nebraska members’ products are also sold in the store.

The new outlet has more than doubled the company’s direct-to-customer retail sales.

Baker’s Candies continues to sell products online and through a variety of other wholesalers.

“Sales, even during the pandemic, have continued to grow exponentially,” Baker said. “We now ship our chocolates regularly to all 50 U.S. states and to just about every country that this downhome Nebraskan can pronounce. This year, we expect to produce close to 40 million chocolates here in Greenwood, Nebraska.”

Baker credits Nebraskans for his company’s success.

“Nebraskans are uniquely proud of the things that are made here,” he said. “If you take good care of them, give them something to be proud of, they’ll take your business to the ends-of-the earth with them wherever they go!”

Bakers Candies has been a member of GROW Nebraska for a couple of years.

“We wished that GROW Nebraska had been around 35 years ago when we were getting started,” Baker said. “Launching a new business is overwhelming at times, but knowing it’s here now, working for Nebraska entrepreneurs, was all the incentive that we needed to join!”

For more information about Baker’s Candies, click here.

 

Story by Kristine Jacobson, GROW Nebraska member and owner of KRJ Public Relations, a business that helps non-profits and businesses tell their stories and gain momentum through blogs, newsletters, annual reports, social media and other publications.

Holiday Sales Sweeter for Baker’s Candies with New Outlet Store

Holiday Sales Sweeter for Baker’s Candies with New Outlet Store

Holiday sales sweeter for Baker’s Candies with new outlet store

By Pamela Thompson – The Ashland Gazette

Phenomenal.

That’s how Todd Baker describes sales at his family’s candy outlet store this year.

“This is easily a record year.” Baker said.

Baker, who owns and operates the gourmet chocolate business with his father Kevin and his brother Paul, said his family is grateful for the financial boost the new 6,000 square foot outlet store has given them.

Foot traffic has increased 30 percent since the new outlet store opened in September, he said.

Dianne Abel, retail manager, said she loves the new space, which features wider aisles, original artwork and an overall lighter, brighter retail space.

“The new space allowed business to flow a lot easier this Christmas season,” Abel said. “We had four registers going so people were happy they didn’t have to wait in line.”

Abel estimates that sales during the month of December, more than doubled at the outlet store.

“It’s been pretty exceptional,” Abel said. “In fact it’s been hard keeping enough of our products on the shelves.”

With this holiday season marking the first Christmas in the new store, which faces Highway 6 on Greenwood’s southern end, Baker called the sales jump “a wish list tidal wave.”

He estimates 30 million chocolates were sold in the state of Nebraska, which would give 17 to 18 chocolates to each resident. By that model, Baker’s chocolates “are the most popular Christmas gift in Nebraska,” he said.

Baker said the sales are steady in the candy industry from October to May, with the most important holidays starting with Halloween, and stretching from Christmas to Valentine’s Day and Easter to Mother’s Day.

“We work hard at Christmas, but then we go right into Valentine’s Day with no let up,” he said.

For Baker and his factory and retail staff, there’s really no let up until June.

“June is a good month to go fishing,” he said grinning from ear to ear. “That’s about the only time my family can take an annual fishing trip the week of Father’s Day.”

Baker credits the new outlet store, strategically located between Lincoln and Omaha and accessible to Interstate 80, for putting Greenwood – a town with 400 residents – on the map as one of the state’s most popular shopping destinations.

“Now, we’re cemented as Nebraska’s chocolate,” he said.

Baker said the company appreciates being known for producing world class chocolate meltaways synonymous with the state of Nebraska. 

According to the company’s website the term “meltaway” is “a designation of honor given only to the most superlative chocolate confections: a chocolate so decadent and smooth that it literally “melts-a-way,” when applied to the tongue.”

Kevin Baker founded Bakers Candies Inc. in 1987. The plant’s original retail outlet store opened to the public before Valentine’s Day 1988. The business quickly grew to become one of the Midwest’s largest premier chocolate manufacturers.

Today, Baker’s utilizes four fully automated production lines capable of producing more than 2,000 pounds of its signature meltaways each day.  The chocolates are produced in a 25,000 square foot plant next to the outlet store. Annually, the plant produces more than a half-million pounds of meltaways each year.

GROW Nebraska® Foundation is a statewide non-profit training and marketing organization. Serving over 400 Nebraska small businesses, the organization provides marketing opportunities, education, and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW Nebraska’s educational programs receive federal and state funding, along with generous support from foundations and individual donors.