In 1987, she continued her journey and relocated into her own commercial kitchen with a very small area for retail sales. The first few years of business showed a slow increase in growth as a result of a small operating budget. Towards the end of 1989, Kathleen came to the realization that in order to continue favorable growth in sales, the present facility was inadequate for the production, wholesaling and retailing of her product. The fall of 1990 brought about the remodeling of the present structure creating a retail store and packaging area.
The fall of 1991 ushered in the grand opening of a second retail facility, situated in Centralia at the Centralia Factory Outlet Stores. This location initially did well. However, in late 1999, sales began to diminish due to decreased foot traffic in the mall; thus forcing the closure of this store in August 2000. The wholesale and retail sales at her Chehalis factory location remained intact.
During 1994, Kathleen was approached by three independent companies from Washington and Oregon. These companies were all looking for someone to do chocolate “panning” on a custom basis. They were looking for a chocolate manufacturer to take their product (e.g. coffee beans, dried fruit), coat the product with chocolate and return it to them for final packaging. Each of these companies all seemed to demand the same criteria: 1) high-quality finished product at an affordable price; 2) a guarantee that their own products would be returned to them; and 3) the ability to order their product in small quantities (less than 1000 lbs. per item). After much investigation and market research, it became apparent to Kathleen that this was a process that had a lot of growth potential in the Pacific Northwest.
Over the course of the next year, Kathleen acquired the necessary equipment and initiated a chocolate panning operation as part of her overall manufacturing plant, concurrently moving in to a larger kitchen facility adjacent to her retail store. This aspect of the hand-panning production kicked off in the fall of 1995.
By the end of 1996, it became obvious that the ever-increasing demand for panned chocolate could not be met by the hand-panning process. Determined to remedy this obstacle, Kathleen secured the necessary equipment, enabling the expansion of her facility to increase her panning capabilities utilizing six machines and an automated chocolate spray system. Expanding the facility allowed for increased production capabilities and expedited delivery of custom-finished products back to customers, as well as providing the means to introduce a wider variety of panned chocolates into the Katie’s Candies product line.
After consulting with a business associate in 2001 regarding different ideas to help better market Katie’s Candies, the new packaging look was unveiled under the trade name “Emerald Sweets,” which was well received by Katie’s wholesale customers, and the name and logo “Emerald Sweets” continues to be used today.
In mid-2003, Katie’s Candies acquired Loveable Chocolates, which is a line of chocolate novelty items including thousands of various molds for every season and theme as well as certain geographical specialty molds. With this acquisition, Katie’s Candies rounded out its product offering.
The combination of these three varieties of chocolates (dipped, panned, and novelty) enables Katie’s Candies to cross-sell so that the customers can obtain several types of chocolates with the confidence of consistent high quality and convenience of single-source manufacturing.
Our customers can be assured that all our candy selections, from our rich buttery caramels to our varied selections of chocolates, panned fruits, nuts and coffee beans and novelty items are all made with the finest raw ingredients and chocolate with no added wax.