When Burt Hanna started Hanna’s Candle Co. in 1987, he was a college student merely looking to make ends meet by selling potpourri he made in the basement of his home. Hanna’s hobby quickly turned into an entrepreneurial enterprise after he found some success selling the potpourri, prompting him to move the business out of the basement and into a factory. He also expanded beyond making potpourri into making practically every kind of scented product, ultimately finding a niche in the scented candle market.
Today, more than 25 years after its founding, Hanna’s Candle uses more than 20 million pounds of wax – 10,000 tons – each year to produce a variety of candles in dozens of scents. The company’s markets include grocery stores and drug store chains nationwide, and products are also available online at candlemart.com, which the company updated and re-launched in 2012.
The website relaunch reflects the company’s focus on its end-customer. “We believe in staying current and relevant within the candle and home fragrance industry and continually meeting our customers’ needs with new and innovative products,” Vice President of Sales and Marketing Joe Williams says. “Candles and home fragrance products are not a necessity for the end-consumer, so providing a superior product at an affordable price is one of our biggest challenges and priorities – we want that repeat customer.”
Hanna’s Candle attends trade shows and fairs in the United States and internationally to reach potential customers and keep up with industry developments. “This gives us an opportunity to see what is trending and coming to the forefront of our industry,” he adds. Shows attended by the company include the New York and Atlanta gift shows, the Canton Fair in China and the Ambiente show in Germany.
The company’s newest endeavor is “Hanna’s at Home,” a collection of candles and home fragrance products. The line, launched in 2013, includes three different sizes of tumbler candles with a black lid, two sizes of pillars, votives and melts. All items are available in 10 fragrances except for the melt candles, which are available in 16 scents.
Hanna’s Candle categorizes its fragrances as edibles/spices, ozonic/herbal and floral/woody. In addition, the company manufactures licensed scented products that have the fragrances of notable brands such as Hershey’s, Jolly Rancher, Peeps and Hot Tamales.
In July, Hanna’s Candle will launch a new line targeted to the Hispanic market called Benditaroma (“blessed fragrance”). The new product line will feature pillars, container candles, melts and aromabeads.
Burt Hanna is still a regular presence at the Fayetteville, Ark., factory, creating and testing new products in conjunction with other staff. Many of them have worked with the company practically since the beginning.
“From upper management to forklift drivers, we currently have employees that have been at Hanna’s as long as 25 years,” Hanna says. “Our people come to work with great attitudes and a willingness to work to continue to make Hanna’s successful.”
Hanna attributes employees’ positive attitudes to the company’s family oriented culture. Hanna’s Candle reinforces this in part through team-building events such as fishing trips and spa days. “Our employees have watched each others’ children grow up, graduate, get married and even have children of their own,” he adds.
Hanna’s Candle’s staff includes a design team experienced in the fragrance and gift markets, as well as a creative staff that works closely with customers to develop products. In addition, the company’s technicians work in a laboratory equipped with high-tech, modern equipment that assists in testing, formulation and research.
“With our in-house fragrance and component libraries, Hanna’s can shorten the timeline from samples to full manufacturing,” Williams says. “We can provide our clients with customized product formulations and insight into the newest and most innovative fragrance-delivery techniques.”
Sales associates also play a significant role in the company’s success. All salespeople begin their careers at Hanna’s Candle by working in the plant, and then transfer to production, labs, receiving and shipping to gain extensive product knowledge. “Our goal is to be a tool that the buyer depends on for new items as well as inventory management and turnover,” Williams says.