Charlotte Clary and Bev Vines- Haines, the two grandmothers behind the popular Ice Chips Candy, are moving their venture to Olympia from Yelm.
“Explosive growth,” Clary said during an interview and tour of the new facility this week, which is just off Old Highway 99 at 79th Avenue Southeast, across from Olympia Regional Airport.
Simply put: The candy, which is sold in 21 flavors and is made with a natural sweetener called xylitol, has caught on with customers.
The chipped candy now is sold, most notably in tins, in stores throughout the country and overseas.
And that meant the 5-year-old company was bursting at the seams of its 5,000-square-foot location in Yelm, space so cramped that it wasn’t unusual to have to walk sideways just to get around, Clary said.
So in August they signed a lease for 21,500 square feet of space and are set to begin moving in the coming days.
The new location will be home to every aspect of the business: reception, production and shipping. There also are offices for the co-founders and majority owners, a break room for 34 employees, and a reception area that will double as a retail storefront, where customers can buy candy or get a customized gift basket.
The larger space also will allow them to increase staff and up production. That, combined with a new sales effort, means the business is aiming for $32 million in revenue this year.
But Clary and Vines-Haines are getting help. They now have a chief executive officer, an operations manager and a former Pepsi Co. vice president who is handling sales.
That gives them time to market the business and make public appearances throughout the country.
Clary and Vines-Haines said they knew they were on to something in 2009 when friends and family demanded more product and more flavors after they experimented with xylitol and broke it up by hand, creating the chip.
But they couldn’t imagine where they are today.
For much of their growth, they thank the ABC TV show “Shark Tank,” which the two of them call the “gift that keeps on giving.”
After launching the business in 2010, the grannies appeared on the show in 2012 and won an investment from Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran. Off camera, they ultimately decided not to take the deal, but they still have fond memories of the experience and remain close to other Shark Tank alums.
The newest of the 21 Ice Chips Candy flavors are sour apple, sour cherry and root beer float. Peppermint and lemon are tied for most popular. The tins sell for $5, and the business is set to roll out a resealable package that sells for $2.99.
Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway stores in Olympia are among the retail sites that sell Ice Chips Candy. In Pierce County, it is sold at Bartell Drugs.
Here’s more about xylitol from the Ice Chips Candy website: “It is all natural, safe for diabetics and has many health benefits. Mostly, it is made from birch bark or corn. Ice Chips Candy uses only the birch bark xylitol in order to avoid any chance of using genetically modified corn (GMO).”