It happened just a little over six years ago. A group of U.S. investors with extensive experience in the candymaking world had an idea to build a plant that would provide exceptional, high-quality candy to major retailers at a low cost. Not an idea for the faint of heart, considering the competitive trappings of the candy industry. But the investors weren’t looking to create the next Hershey’s or Mars bar. They saw a significant market opportunity in the sugar candy sector and took a bite.
The group broke ground on its dream in May of 2000. The state-of-the-art manufacturing facility took just seven months to build and today is the home of Sunrise Confections. The new facility houses 178,000 square feet of candy-making magic that would make any kid’s eyes bug out with delight.
Franklin Connections, parent company to Sunrise Confections and based in El Paso, Texas, invested a hefty $25 million into its Juarez, Mexico plant located just minutes across the border from its headquarters. It didn’t skimp on one single detail. Franklin hired Lintel, one of the finest construction companies in northern Mexico to build the facility. In addition, Webber Smith, an engineering firm well known for designing candy plants, was hired to draw up logistical plans. The construction of the facility came in on time and on budget, according to company officials.
Sunrise Confections then opened for business in January 2001 with a modest crew of maintenance people and technicians working one shift. The company began by making hard candy only and its now popular spearmint disks were the first products to roll off the shiny new conveyors.
Demand grew quickly for Sunrise’s taste treats, exceptional quality and on-time delivery. Orders started rolling in. Business was so good, so fast that Sunrise soon added soft candy to its treat repertoire. Sunrise Connections soon began adding shift after shift and today employs over 750 people.
Quality + Value = Profits
Sunrise Confections ships products ex-clusively to the U.S. at this point in time, and manufactures what is known as a general line of sugar-based candy including hard candies, gummie candies, jells and panned products. This value line of candy is what Sunrise sees as a profit line. “We’re not going to produce the next big ‘hit’ in the candy industry. We’re not looking to build a brand,” says Maria Teresa Delgado, human resources manager for Sunrise. “We’re a value-line candy company. We make everyday kinds of candies. We make hard candy such as our Starlight mints, cinnamons, butterscotch and fruit discs. We also have the capacity to make gels and gummies and can make gummie worms and bears, jelly beans and a variety of flavored fruit slices.”
Sunrise offers its sweet treats in bulk, laydown bags, tubs, hanging bags holiday bulk, holiday laydown bags and holiday tubs. It also has a variety of themed and specialty items. While Sunrise sells some of its candy under its own brand name, it also sells bulk candies to wholesalers called “rebaggers” and packages for retailers under their store brand names. No matter who they’re selling to or where the candy goes, quality is one word that drives the Sunrise Confections line.
“Our goal is to always produce the highest quality candy and provide our customers with excellent service and reliability,” reiterates Delgado. Perhaps that’s why U.S. retail giants have become trusted Sunrise Confections customers.
The Sunrise Confections plant is a modern, cutting-edge facility that was designed for flexibility and growth. An exceptional manufacturing environment, it allows new and potential contracts to get their product manufactured to their specifications and on shelves fast.
“We want to be our customers’ long term partners in providing high quality, low cost manufacturing,” says Delgado.
“We will buy and install equipment to meet a customers’ specific needs. Or, if they prefer they can provide equipment that we install and operate on their behalf.”
This kind of service and flexibility, coupled with a quality workforce at a significant labor differential, management by a U.S. team with extensive worldwide candy-making experience, and easy access to the U.S. border, makes Sunrise Confections a win-win for so many retailers.
Sunrise is also adept in handling cross border logistics, customs, transportation and complying with FDA regulations. In addition, the company employs a sophisticated research and development team that is overseen by the quality assurance department. “We are also trying new formulations and seeing what might work in the market and what people might like,” says Delgado.
Award-winning & Growing
In its short six years of existence, Sunrise Confections is making an impression with not only suppliers but members of the candy industry as well. Sunrise Confections is a proud member of the Food Products Association, one of the largest trade
associations servicing the food and beverage industry worldwide. It also recently received an audit and recertification from the American Industry of Baking (AIB) with a superior rating.
In October 2006, Sunrise Confections was named “Best supplier” in a top 100 list from one of its retail-giant customers. Sunrise actually ranked 26th on the list due to its consistent quality and on-time deliveries.
Since its inception, Sunrise Confections has seen a steady growth rate of 10 percent per year and is looking forward to another 10 percent growth spurt in 2007. With a capacity for over 100 million pounds of candy annually, Franklin Connections and its Sunrise Confections “candy land” is more than equipped to keep delivering and satisfying America’s sweet tooth.