By Rick Rouan
The three partners have vowed not to alter the Gorant recipe.
BOARDMAN — Gorant Candies has changed hands, and its new owners say they want to mold the local chocolate company into a national brand.
“We have contacts all over the country that we hope to sell to,” said Marty Seidler, one of three partners who purchased the candy company, which now is known as Gorant Chocolatier.
Seidler, John Cayten and Joseph Miller took over the business Oct. 9. Seidler and Cayten own Big Dipper Food Inc. in Warren, where they make gourmet brittle. Miller owns the Amish Door Restaurant in Wooster.
“The opportunity arose, and it was a great way to grow our business,” Seidler said.
The local candy business downsized after American Greetings Corp’s Carlton Cards Retail Inc. took over in 2003, when it sold off retail locations to another company.
Seidler said that he and his partners want to open Gorant Chocolatier retail locations again in the future. Now, the company has only the store in front of its plant at 8301 Market St. in Boardman.
And, though the partners hope to make the company into a national candy brand, Northeast Ohio is a priority now, Seidler said.
“Our goal is to reach out to some of the retail outlets, supermarkets and things of that sort,” he said. “We want to saturate Northeast Ohio like it once was.”
The new owners have vowed not to alter the recipe first developed by Sam and Charles Gorant in 1949, but they do plan to market the candy more aggressively on a national level and add sales staff members, Seidler said.
“We plan on having a sales force to get the product to the customer, not the customer to the product,” he said. “We plan on growing in that manner.”
The Market Street plant has 45 full-time employees and 23 seasonal, temporary workers, Seidler said. Many of the full-time employees were retained from the previous staff. Seidler said the plant will add a second shift next week.
The plant is operating at about 20 percent of capacity now, Seidler said, but he was not sure how many pounds of candy it makes each year.
The company also contracts to make private-label chocolate, he said.
“When their business grows, our business grows as well,” Seidler said.
The Gorant brothers opened the Boardman factory in 1977, and Carlton Cards purchased the property in 2003 for about $1.5 million. The Gorant Chocolatier partners purchased the property for about $986,000 under Camise Development LLC, county records show.
Gorant employees make candy by hand, not through automated machines, according to the company’s Web site.
Customers can find the Gorant Chocolatier chocolate in the Market Street store, both local malls and in some of the remaining Gorant retail locations that are owned by a nephew of the Gorant brothers’, Seidler said. The new owners also launched a Web site, www.gorant.com, where customers can browse the company’s selection and find details on how to order candy.
Seidler said that he expects business to boom during the holiday season and through Mother’s Day.
“Chocolate is pretty much recession proof,” Seidler said. “It’s a great luxury for people who don’t want to go out for dinner and a movie.”