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Anthony-Thomas Candy Co. can trace its roots back to wholesaling. In the formative days, co-founders Anthony Zanetos and his son, Tom, started out by peddling their chocolates to local shop owners. But as Tom's sons entered into the picture, the Columbus, Ohio, operation expanded by opening retail outlets and pursuing business through the fund-raising, private label and co-manufacturing sectors. As a result, the wholesale business gradually disappeared.
Today, the company is well-equipped to take on wholesale business again. When Anthony-Thomas decided in the early 1990s that it was time to move from its constricted and landlocked 60,000-sq.-ft. facility, company executives carefully chose a site with room for growth. They eventually settled on an 11-acre site located on the outer belt of the west side of Columbus, one spacious enough to house a 152,000-sq.-ft. complex. In 1994, the company moved into its spacious new home. In addition to having 110,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing area -- eight production lines and room for five more -- the structure includes a 30,000-sq.-ft. warehouse, a 4,000-sq.-ft. retail store and plenty of office space.
Inventing to meet its needs
"One of the unique things in our company is we've been fortunate enough to have very talented plant engineers," says Joe Zanetos, Tom's son and company president. He points out that Anthony-Thomas has a complete machine shop for building and repairing its own equipment. "We've developed a lot of our own equipment to fit our needs," Joe adds. "It was hard to find things exactly the way we wanted it."
Company personnel have designed and built a caramel and nut cluster machine to make what's traditionally referred to as turtles. Engineers have fabricated a single-stage line which produces solid medallions and pieces of candy with single inclusions like its coconut clusters, and a three-stage shell moulding plant, which was later revamped to include a fourth stage to make its now famous buckeyes, cherries and other filled pieces.
The buckeye is "the hottest single item we've ever developed," says Joe. "We got so many requests. It's such a popular piece in Ohio, people …