LIBERTY, KY – One of the world’s most successful candle manufacturers is returning to its roots, bringing new employment opportunities with it back to the place where it all began.
Goose Creek Candle, LLC is moving its distribution base back to Casey County, Ky. They’re doing it with help from two of the region’s most trusted economic development and nonprofit lending organizations. Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corp. (SKED) is partnering with the Lake Cumberland Area Development District (LCADD) to assist the company’s owners in buying and restoring a vacant Liberty, Ky. facility to house its home-base operations and create new jobs there.
Chuck and Tammy Meece are thrilled to have their 21-year-old business back where it belongs.
“It is such a pleasure working with SKED,” said Tammy Meece, Goose Creek Candle president. “Goose Creek Candle is very appreciative of their continued support. Organizations such as SKED are invaluable to businesses such as ours, and we are so proud to partner with them for continued growth and success.”
The company’s beginning was a humble one. The Casey County High School
sweethearts started it in their kitchen in 1998. They were building their American Dream in their own backyard: one candle pour at a time.
With their growing family in tow, they developed the candle wax, its distinctive scents and began marketing their product to nearby gift shops. Within two years, the Meeces were ready to expand. They hired two employees and moved into a small building on family land. The demand for their candles grew, as they branched out by selling to buyers at national trade shows and establishing a website. This growth made it possible for them to lease, renovate and move their operations into a larger building in 2012.
By this time, the company was a true family-based business, as each of their teen children had been given responsibilities within the company. They employed more than 80 local residents and were manufacturing and shipping a whopping 10,000 candles per day.
Their dream was interrupted in 2013 when a fire forced the Meeces to discontinue
operations at the Liberty facility, layoff employees and contract with manufacturers and distributors in other regions of the country to keep the business going. With no other suitable facilities available in the area to relocate, they were forced to lay off the majority of their employees and contract with candle manufacturing facilities in North Carolina and Mayfield, Ky. and a distribution facility in Tennessee.
Since then, Goose Creek Candle’s reputation for high-quality, safe and signature scents has grown exponentially with sales worldwide and facilities across the country. All of their products are still made in the USA.
Today, the company boasts sales in 75 different countries, more than 100 fragrance options and products available online and on the shelves of thousands of independent retailers.
But the Casey County natives never gave up on returning their beloved, family-owned business back to their hometown. In 2019, they called on a longtime friend and lender to the region’s small business community: SKED for help.
The Meeces had found a good financial partner in SKED early on in the business. SKED assisted them in funding their Liberty, Ky. operation in 2006 and helped them get back on their feet, following the fire, with loan funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program. But their goal to return the business’ manufacturing and distribution center to Southeast Kentucky would take personalized attention and cooperation among resources that only a regional nonprofit like SKED can deliver.
SKED staff worked with the Meeces to locate an existing facility in Casey County to retrofit. They set about finding funding and workforce partners to help train and equip their employees with the skills necessary and, most importantly, SKED provided the small business owners with hours of individualized financial and business coaching to help them realize the dream of bringing good, quality jobs back to Casey County.
SKED applied for and was awarded an $800,000 Office of Community Services grant through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2019. This funding has been used to make a loan to Goose Creek Candle to help finance its manufacturing and distribution business and the creation of the workforce it requires back to Casey County.
“Bringing funding, resources and expertise together to help businesses grow and create jobs is at the heart of what SKED does,” said SKED Executive Director Brett Traver. “By working with all of these partners, we have the opportunity to multiply the impact.”
Also, SKED is contracting with LCADD to provide customized services to expand job opportunities for low-income persons by helping them overcome personal and
community barriers, such as lack of soft skills, financial literacy and needed support services.
“The Lake Cumberland Area Development District is excited to be a part of the OCS grant obtained by SKED to serve Goose Creek Candle,” said LCADD Executive Director Darryl McGaha. “With our ongoing experience in working with low-income individuals to obtain self-sufficient employment, we look forward to working with Goose Creek to find these individuals and provide them with services that will make them valuable and long term employees.”
SKED and the LCADD also partnered with Casey County Bank.
For more information about Goose Creek Candle, visit: https://goosecreekcandle.com/