A past president and ceo of New England Confectionery Co. (NECCO) has launched an initiative to save the Revere, Mass.-based manufacturer, which faces laying off nearly 400 employees if it doesn’t find a buyer.
Al Gulachenski, who served at the company’s helm from 2011 to 2015, has started a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $20 million. If donations reach that benchmark, Gulachenski and his team of marketing, finance, operations and research and development professionals pledge to chip in up to $10 million.
“I am willing to dedicate myself, along with my team, to saving this historic piece of USA and Boston heritage and preserve the art of candy making and manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts,” Gulachenski wrote on the GoFundMe page. “We did it before, and with your help, we will do it again so that the company will last another 100 years.”
Though he didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, Gulachenski noted on the fundraising site that he and his team made “the once great company profitable for the first time in decades by 2012.”
If he raises enough, Gulachenski said he would move NECCO to another location in Massachusetts and issue shares to donors who contribute now. As of Thursday morning, $2,880 had been raised.
“This company has been in our backyard for 170 years, and it's time we own it,” Gulachenski wrote. “Let’s save our NECCO wafers and Sweethearts!”
NECCO announced in September 2014 that Michael McGee would succeed Gulachenski. In a March 6 letter, McGee told Massachusetts and Revere officials that the 171-year-old company has been in negotiations with potential buyers so that operations may continue.
However, there is no guarantee of a sale, and if one doesn’t come to fruition by May 6, NECCO could have to lay off 395 employees. The Boston Globe reported the layoffs could affect cooks, hard candy makers, truck operators, machine operators and attendants, and administrative positions.
Once news of the situation broke, candy buyers rushed to snap up NECCO items. Clair Robins, spokesperson for Candystore.com, said sales of NECCO wafers jumped 63 percent this March over March averages between 2008 and 2017. Sales of all NECCO products jumped 50 percent.
“Sales have gone up a huge amount, which we love,” Robins told Candy Industry, “but there is a palpable fear on our customers’ part that the next shipment won't show up. The inquiries via email, phone and social media have been a little overwhelming but also fun because people share their stories and passions about NECCO candy.”
Robins said last week NECCO is still shipping candy, but Candystore.com has been stockpiling as much as they can. However, on Wednesday Robins noted sales have continued to spike since the story went viral — sales of NECCO wafers jumped 150 percent, while sales of all NECCO items have grown by 82 percent.
Last week, NECCO posted the following on its Facebook page: “Fans, we have received an astounding amount of emails concerning the future of our company. I will do my best to get back to you all. All I can say is that we are unsure of our future but hopeful for a buyer to keep this sweet and nostalgic brand alive for many more decades. We thank you for all your love and support!”