Cape Cod chocolate maker finds a sweet spot in Portland for growing business

Courtesy of Chatham Candy Manor

Chatham Candy Manor in Massachusetts is expanding production to an industrial site in Portland. Here, co-owner Robbie Carroll mixes candy in a copper teapot.

The 67-year-old candy company in Massachusetts has been growing rapidly since new owners took over a few years ago. Now Chatham Candy Manor is expanding – and landed in Portland.

The team of husband and husband Paige Piper and Robbie Carroll leased 5,000 square feet of industrial space at 651 Riverside St. to open a new production and distribution facility for handmade cakes.

The transaction was organized on behalf of the tenant by Sasha Bogdanovich and John Rizzo of Boulos Co. and on behalf of the landlord, 815 Forest Ave LLC, by Vince Champi of Porta & Co.

“Business has grown by at least 30% to 40%,” Piper told Mainebiz. “So we really made the most of our space.”

With the increase in internet orders, the business needed new production and distribution facilities.

Desoto station wagon

Chatham Candy Manor was founded in 1955 by Naomi Louise Turner in Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Courtesy of Chatham Candy Manor

Internet orders have grown for the company’s small batches of hand-dipped chocolates.

“She was an entrepreneur who was very ahead of her time, charming, independent, beautiful and completely eccentric,” the company’s website said.

Turner and her daughter, Naomi “Daughter” Turner, would arrive in Chatham around July 1 in her yellow Desoto van with buttons, full to the brim with candy supplies, card tables, sheets and a few old battered suitcases.

“They would arrange the card tables, cover them with sheets, make a batch of fuges, dip some chocolates and be open for work until July 4!”

A mother and daughter slept in the back room of the store or in the back of the station wagon, hoping to earn enough money by August to rent a house for the month. Naomi made the candy from old family recipes. After Labor Day, the couple will pack their bags and move on.

When the older Turner died, the Chatham Candy mansion went to Dutch Turner and her husband David Witch. They turned the seasonal summer business into a year-round one.

“Naomi turns out to be dipping chocolate at any time of the night, while Dave had to pack them up and send them the next day,” the website said.

From finance to retail

Four years ago, Turner and Witch sold the business to Piper and Carol.

Carol was born and raised in Chatham and spent her summers working at Candy Manor. His mother worked there before he was born. After graduating from Bentley University, Carol worked in banking and finance.

Piper is a local miner. She grew up in Minot, Androskogin County. She is also present at Bentley. During her stay there she did internships at Unum, IDEXX and WEX. After graduation, she worked in sales.

“We decided we wanted to try to do small business together and do something different,” Piper said. “It was the perfect opportunity.”

Candy Manor does a lot of business in the shops, especially during the summer and holidays. The couple’s goal was to expand the mail order channel.

The pandemic pushed the company’s existing customer service website to online sales.

While the showcase business remains quite similar to before the pandemic, mail orders have doubled. It became obvious that they would need more production and distribution space.

In 2017, mail sales were $ 100,000 per year. By the end of 2021, they were $ 829,000.

“We needed a facility to accommodate and fulfill our mail orders,” Piper said. “We think Maine is the perfect place.”

Caramel with sea salt

Production for the showcase will remain in Chatham. Showcase sales are the majority of the business.

A popular item is caramel with sea salt, made in small batches in a copper teapot, which can be seen through the shop window.

“When it cools down, we cut it by hand and dip it,” she said.

In the summer, they make huge amounts of food in the kettle.

The pick-up was by design.

“When we first got there, we completely redesigned the website,” Piper said. “We wanted to do something that would tell a story, and also something that would be easy for customers. When the pandemic hit, we started advertising, which we had never done before. Now we have new people ordering and customers who have been coming for a long time but didn’t know we were sending. ”

Maine Boomerang

The original plan was to expand Cape Cod.

“But the housing market here is incredibly difficult, and I wasn’t sure we could secure a place here,” Piper said.

So the idea was to create a stand-alone facility.

“We love Portland and I grew up in Maine,” she said. “The idea of ​​going back and creating something in Maine means a lot to me.”

Courtesy of / Porta & Co.

The equipment will include the installation of a new chocolate tempering machine and an extruder.

The business has about 50 employees – year-round and seasonally, both full-time and part-time. Several are planning to relocate to Portland.

“We’ll hire when the need grows,” Piper said. “We hope to have 20 employees before 2023.

The goal is to start operations in Portland in August and have a full range of chocolates ready for this year’s holiday season.

There is a lot of furniture in Portland.

“The space is great. It’s very big and open, “Piper said. “But we have to make sure it’s safe to eat. This includes remodeling floors, relocating equipment, some plumbing and installing generators, as candy is susceptible to heat, so if the power goes out, we need to make sure our AC stays on. “

Courtesy of / Porta & Co.

The Portland building had a place to rent.

Purchases of equipment include new machines for tempering chocolate for manual dipping. The company currently has this type of machine, but dates back to the 80s of last century. Other installations include new refrigerators and freezers and an extruder that helps to size the candies perfectly.

It is unclear at this time what the total investment in the repairs will be, she said. Funding will come from cash flow.

“We planned and saved for that,” she said.

The couple moved to Maine and gave control of the Chatham operation to an employee who had worked in the history since he was a teenager.

“He has expressed interest in starting a business one day, so it will be a great opportunity for him,” Piper said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.