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Economic Outlook

Jeff Rea’s Blog Post (Episode 1509)

December 03, 2019
Author Jeff Rea

About Jeff

Jeff Rea is currently the President & CEO of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce. Jeff has over 20 years of executive leadership experience in our region while working in areas such as Economic Development, Business Development, City Planning, Marketing, and Local Government. Jeff has a degree from Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC and executive management continuing education work at the University of Notre Dame.

Welcome to my blog post related to our taping on our show about what manufacturing looks like today. I sure appreciate your support of WNIT, Public Television (PBS), and our show!

If you are not familiar with the show, we hope you’ll make plans to join us each week as we bring you stories about the people, companies and communitiesdriving economic growth in our region! If you want to take a look at some of our previous shows, their available at www.wnit.org/economicoutlook.

It’s that time of year when Chocolate Charlie starts to appear in the stores. Its been a fixture in our area for many years and is part of the offerings of Claeys Candy of South Bend. Claeys is a third-generation family business celebrating their 100th year in business. J.C. Claeys was the founder and operated out of a garage initially until a larger building was acquired. The company’s first product wat the Etabar, a caramel nut bar covered in icing. The product cost just a nickel.

For the past 45 years, the business has been run by J.C.’s grandson, Greg Claeys. Greg grew up in the business but wasn’t always so sure he wanted to be in the candy business. You’ll hear more about Greg’s story, on this show.

Family businesses are an important part of the American economy, as 64 % of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and 62% of the all jobs are located at a family business. Today though, only about 30% survive to a 2nd generation, 12% to a third. Claeys is beating the odds!

My co-host, George Lepeniotis had a great assignment, he actually got to visit the factory and see first-hand Claeys Candy being made. No reports on whether he got to sample as well. I’m sure he’ll bring some back to the studio for everyone to enjoy! At the factory, they’re busy making their hard candies, which is their top seller. You’ll see those across the country in a variety of flavors, and locally at Martin’s, Meijer, and Walmart. They also are right in the middle of Chocolate Charlie season, a seasonal treat also available at many of the same retailers. 

This show was kind of fun for me. My family operated drug stores in Bourbon, IN and Mishawaka, IN, Claeys candy was a popular offering in both of those stores. That relationship goes back to the late 1930’s. I hope you enjoy our show on “The Business of Family Business.”

Your feedback is valuable, feel free to reach out anytime (jrea@sbrchamber.com)  with comments, compliments, criticisms, story ideas. I’ll do my best to get back you as soon as possible. Also, follow-us on facebook, Twitter (Jeff_Rea), or at WWW.WNIT.org/economicoutlook for all the latest info on the show.  Enjoy the show!