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Officials enjoy a sweet day




Lt. Gov. Jon Husted holds up a bag of Bit-O-Honey prior to giving remarks at the Spangler Candy Co. Friday.

Brian Koeller | The Bryan Times


Though it’s been pumping out more than 2 million pieces of candies per day, Bryan and the State of Ohio celebrated the new Bit-O-Honey candy line production Friday.


A wrapper cutting event was held at the newest, and largest expansion, of the Spangler Candy Co. and featured company officials, Bryan Mayor Carrie Schlade and dignitaries from the state and federal level.


“Today we dedicate the largest expansion in our company’s history, with roughly 350,000 square feet added,” said Spangler Candy Co. Chairman and CEO Kirk Vashaw. “It’s one of the largest industrial expansions in Bryan’s history.”


That history in Bryan goes back to 1906 when Vashaw’s great-grandfather, along with his great-grandfather’s two brothers, founded Spangler Candy Co. in the city’s downtown square.


“And from that one storefront, would those three ever have dreamed that four generations later the company would grow to have a 40-acre campus with nearly 1 million square feet under roof right here in Bryan, Ohio,” Vashaw said.


The expansion was made into the former ARO Corp., which at one time employed up to 1,200 people. However, in the 1980s, it closed down and all those jobs were lost.


In 2021, Spangler purchased the Bit-O-Honey candy line, which had been made out of state. The local company needed a new facility to produce the line, and chose the former ARO building.


A $275,000 grant from JobsOhio helped with refurbishing the facility to get it ready for Bit-O-Honey.


Representing the state and JobsOhio was Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, a native of nearby Montpelier, who said the former ARO building had special meaning for him.


“I used to have family that worked in this building, and the jobs went away,” Husted said. “So when I heard about the opportunity to renew this facility, into something that will create jobs for the future, to add fuel to the recovery that is happening in this community and the rest of Ohio, I wanted to make sure that I was here.”


He pointed out the state experienced many decades of jobs leaving Ohio, but is now seeing jobs and manufacturers coming to the Buckeye State.


Husted commended Spangler Candy Co. for being a home-grown company and staying true to its roots.


“The reason homegrown companies are important is because they care about their community and they grow and then when they make acquisitions, they bring more jobs to your community,” Husted said.


Vashaw said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur helped the company by getting pension legislation passed at the national level (see accompanying story). Prior to that legislation, such expansion may not have been possible.


“The opening of this new production facility will not only be a boon for this community, but it will bring jobs and opportunity moving forward,” Kaptur said.


“And it’s a great addition to an Ohio company that has already yielded so much to Bryan, and what it means to be an American,” she added.


Kaptur also presented Vashaw with an American Flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.


“We’re going to find a special place to put it,” Vashaw said.


Schlade thanked Spangler for choosing Bryan as the place to produce Bit-O-Honey.

“The work to ready this facility was no small undertaking,” Schlade said.


She also commended the company officials for the commitment and support over the years to many projects throughout Bryan.


“I could go all day on Spangler’s commitment to our community,” Schlade said.

The new facility employs 45 workers, but Vashaw said there is room to grow.

“And that is the plan,” he added.

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