Candle-making firm moving here

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Autom, the Phoenix-based religious supply company that's constructing a new operations building in Lewisburg's business park, has bought one of America's best known religious candle makers and is moving production here from Syracuse, N.Y.

Marshall Ciccone, chief operating officer of Will & Baumer Inc., is part of a group of investors who bought the candle-making business since previous owners only wanted the real estate. In January, The Autom Co. became the majority owner of Will & Baumer candle makers, who'd contacted Autom about joining forces about four years ago.

"We've been dealing with them ... as a customer maybe 50 years," Ciccone said while explaining the initial conversation was suspended because "things were going on" that precluded further steps then. That changed, "a little over a year ago," Ciccone said, and the sale was closed on Jan. 31.

Now, a couple dozen production jobs and a number of seasonal employment opportunities may be available in Lewisburg after Will & Baumer closes its Syracuse plant in July or August next year. Some candle makers in New York will move to Lewisburg.

"We're making that choice available to them," Ciccone said. "We have a number up in years, so they need to decide, this close to retirement, do they want a new adventure?"

Ciccone "would not expect more than 40 percent to move," because of family ties, but the chief operating officer added, "There's a group that is excited about moving."

As a result, he said, "We'll have to look to the people in the Lewisburg area to fill the gap."

Will & Baumer production workers are members of the International Union of Electrical Workers and the Communication Workers of America, Ciccone said. Tennessee is a right to work state, meaning union member . . .Pick up a copy of Friday, June 20, 2008 edition for full coverage.