Candle factory to be on time, despite rain

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Will & Baumer's candle factory is on schedule and the company thinks it will begin installing its equipment next month.

Although rain in September and October proved to be problematic for construction crews at the candle factory being built in the Lewisburg Business Park, the general contractor says the building will be done on time.

And so, manufacturing may start next year at Will & Baumer, an American candle business incorporated in 1855 and acquired by Autom, the Phoenix-based religious supply company that opened its operations building early this year.

"The time frame for them to start to be in and start hooking up their equipment is mid- to late-December," John Chunn, president of Truette Construction Co., said Monday evening.

Monte Mertens, operations manager for Autom, says the candle company hopes to be moving during January.

Franklin-based architect Richard Williams designed the 10,000 square-foot building that could have additional work later.

"Part of it could be made into a two-story building," Chunn said. "Offices upstairs are a possibility later on."

Monday afternoon, Stephen Grooms, foreman for Phillips Masonry Group, Columbia, explained that a cinder block wall in front of the building will enclose a planter and that around it will be a handicapped access ramp. Closer to the front will be a set of steps.

"That's just standard practices now" under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Chunn said of federal requirements for a ramp with a certain grade and flat areas for people in wheel chairs to stop without rolling.

"There's nothing different about the building," Chunn said of a standard factory structure that's getting a two-tone paint job. "It's the equipment that goes in it that's different."

Will & Baumer candle makers trace their roots 150 years to a Bavarian immigrant's backyard in Syracuse, N.Y. In January 2008, Autom became the company's majority owner and last summer announced its production is moving here.

Company officials had spoken about joining forces for nearly four years, and Lewisburg became an attractive alternative as explained by Paul and Tom DiGiovanni, the brothers who run the church supply company started by their father, Ignatius DiGiovanni, in 1948. Autom has been selling Will & Baumer candles for nearly 50 years.