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Checking in with Hammond's Candies

(Editor's note: Now in its fourth year, the Colorado Companies to Watch program has celebrated 200 second-stage companies that represent the state’s burgeoning entrepreneurial climate, including Hammond’s Candies (2011). We recently checked in on its progress.)

Hammond’s Candies CEO Andy Schuman was among a group of investors who purchased the iconic company – the largest maker of hand-made hard candies in the nation – five years ago. He and his partners had a tough ride shortly afterward when some of the company’s inventory went bad.

"It really hampered our borrowing ability with our lender," Schuman said during an interview at the company’s retail showroom inside its Denver factory headquarters. "We’ve since been through four banks. In 2010, we hooked up with Colorado Lending Source and AmFirst Bank, and we were a recipient of stimulus funds, close to $200,000 over a five-year period, which was a significant savings for us. It allowed us to move banks, lock in better interest rates, and now we’re really on a great path in terms of our debt structure."

Among Schuman’s greatest challenges was to retool the company to meet the modern marketplace.

"I took over a company that had been doing the same thing for probably 85, 86 years, and to change that culture was a little tough," he said. "But with determination, with hard work, perseverance, hiring good people, we’ve been really able to be successful."

Since Schuman and his team acquired the company, they’ve doubled revenue and added 40 employees, bringing the headcount to 120.

"Our goals are pretty lofty. We want to grow the company to $25 million through organic growth as we stand right now and through acquisitions," Schuman said. "Give it five years, and I think we can be there. Slow, steady growth for us is what we’re looking for. We’re not looking for a big hit real quick."

The Companies to Watch program has helped a national player get a little more local love, Schuman said.

"We’ve been in Colorado for 90 years. However, we’re not as well-known in our backyard as we are in other parts of the country. It brought a lot of recognition to us on a local basis, which has been nice."


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Mike Cote

Mike Cote is the former editor of ColoradoBiz. E-mail him at mcote@cobizmag.com.

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