With the use of several services offered through the CAN BE program, Candelles, a handmade soy candle company located in the CAN BE Innovation Center within Valmont Industrial Park, has tripled the size of its production, distribution and storage facility just 15 months after moving in.
Candelles, which Kelley Major and C.J. Graaf founded in 2013 out of their kitchen, originally occupied 860 square feet of space when moving its operations to CAN BE in November of 2017. Over the past 15 months, the company has tripled the amount of space it occupies within the facility which now includes a loading dock as well.
The expansion has allowed Candelles to organize its inventory and operations. The additional space gave the company room to add several tables for workspace and additional shelving and storage racks.
Now that it has access to the loading dock, Candelles has been able to streamline its operations and save time and business expense. Major and Graaf said that, prior to the expansion, the pair had to make multiple trips a week to Lancaster and load up their SUV with boxes of wax flakes and jars and personally drive the supplies back to Hazleton. With the loading dock, the supplies can now be delivered right to the facility plus the company can use the dock to send out large wholesale shipments to its distributors and get a bulk shipping price on the orders.
In addition to the extra manufacturing and distribution space, Candelles capitalized on business development services, including financial planning, business mentoring, networking opportunities and partnerships, to help organize its business operations.
“We were able to get matched up with (accountant) Fred Blasé, who used to be a tenant here, and he’s been one of our biggest assets,” Major said. “He’s helped us a lot with the financial aspects of our business and these are things that, as a start-up, you’re not so skilled at.”
As a CAN BE client, Major and Graaf were also able to network with business owners whose companies are located throughout CAN DO’s parks. Graaf said they met with Greg Fox, CEO of Best Cigar Prices in the CAN DO Corporate Center, toured his facility and learned about the employment management, warehousing and shipping operations the company uses for their thriving cigar company.
Graaf added that interacting with new business owners entering CAN BE is one of the advantages to operating their business in the building.
Major said the duo has received valuable business mentorship advice, including being connected to a potential investor, as part of the business development services that CAN BE offers to its clients. CAN DO Coordinator of Entrepreneurial Services Jocelyn Sterenchock, who oversees the CAN BE Innovation Center, has been another valuable advisor for Candelles. Major said Sterenchock is always there to help even outside of normal business hours.
“She’s definitely passionate about everything and very dedicated to everyone,” Major said. “She’s always opening other doors for us. She’s the one who introduced us to Greg Fox and Fred Blasé and connected us with Wilkes-Barre PITCH for potential investor seed money.”
Less than two years after moving into CAN BE, Candelles is outgrowing the space and hopes to eventually successfully graduate from the incubator into a permanent location. Major said that in just a short time at CAN BE, she feels like Candelles has grown into a real company.
“Coming into this (business), we always said ‘fake it until you make it’ and now we feel like we are a real business and we have that confidence that we’re a real business.”
The primary mission of the CAN BE Innovation Center is to foster entrepreneurship and new venture development in the Hazleton area, leading to business expansion and diversity. Whether you are launching a new business, expanding a small home-based business or creating a spin-off venture from an existing business, CAN BE can help.
Conveniently located within the Valmont Industrial Park, at 103 Rotary Drive in West Hazleton, the CAN BE Innovation Center offers the facilities and support services, including business development, financial and legal services, that are necessary and useful to entrepreneurs who are seeking to develop a business in the Hazleton area.