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Hard Times for Candlestick Makers

May 13th, 2010
Marketing Advertising Blog — VuManhThang.Com

Interesting story from Ecumenical News International on candle makers facing tough times, as local churches close.

Church closures spell hard times for US candle maker
ENI-10-0322

By Rick Moriarty
Syracuse, New York, 13 May (ENI/RNS)–One of the oldest U.S. candle makers is planning to slash its work force in part because of decreased demand from a shrinking number of Catholic churches to buy its products.

Emkay Candle told its 46 employees that as many as 38 of them will be laid off in 90 days. That would leave just eight people to make candles at the company, which has been making them at the same location since its founding in 1925, Religion News Service reports.

Rolly DeVore, Emkay’s general manager, said the actual number of layoffs may wind up at less than 38, but not much less.

“I think maybe 15 will remain after the whole thing is done, but I don’t know,” he said. “It all depends on what the order input is going to be in the next two months. Any way you look at it, it’s a significant reduction in employment.”

DeVore said the company is dropping all of its unprofitable product lines and consolidating its manufacturing space from five floors to one.

He blamed a major consolidation trend in the Roman Catholic Church for a drop in business. As churches have closed, the company has lost customers for its candles.

“Once they take three churches and make them into one, you lose two customers,” he said.

Another factor in the drop in business has been insurance companies pressuring churches not to leave candles burning except during Masses.

That’s bad news for Emkay because for the past 15 years, it has made only religious candles. Though it makes them for all denominations and for nondenominational churches, its biggest customer is the Catholic Church.

For many years, the company made commercial candles for use in people’s homes, as well as religious candles, but pulled out of the commercial candle business 15 years ago after cheap mass-produced foreign imports began cutting into its sales.

DeVore said the company continued to sell religious candles because churches are more brand-loyal than commercial customers. With the reduction in church sales, the company plans to stop making hand-decorated candles that can be up to 6 feet tall and 4 inches in
diameter, he said.

There once were five candle companies operating in Syracuse. The last two remaining are Emkay and Cathedral Candle Co., which was opened in 1897 and makes only church candles.

:: Rick Moriarty works for The Post-Standard [415 words]

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. May 14th, 2010 at 12:09 | #1

    This news depresses me not only because it’s an indication that churches are closing but also because of my personal connection with Emkay. My grandfather was the plant manager at Emkay until ‘82 when he died after suffering a heart attack. Back in ’82 Emkay had hundreds of employees. It’s shocking every time I visit the orphanarium to see how many businesses have shut down and left for more favorable business conditions in the south and overseas. Two of the companies my father used to work for have relocated to where I’m at now.

    I do find it interesting to learn that insurance companies are now pressuring churches on their use of candles.

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