Wolfgang Candy Co. is launching new products in January, just three months after weathering bankruptcy and a $1 million buyout.
Wolfgang Candy Co. is launching new products in January, just three months after weathering bankruptcy and a $1 million buyout. (Candy Woodall photo)

There's not much written on a white board inside the office of Wolfgang Candy Co. CEO Ben McGlaughlin.

But two numbers in the right hand corner show a lot can change in a year.

One number tells how many days are left until Easter. Another number tells how many days are

left until candy orders are due.

Though that might seem like a simple countdown for the North York company's spring sales, to McGlaughlin it's a welcome opportunity to focus on where the 92-year-old, fourth-generation family business is headed.

"It was a poignant moment when I realized I could finally think forward. Rather than responding to the bankruptcy and being in reactionary mode, I was finally free to look forward," he said.

With new products launching this month, a continued stronghold in the fundraising industry and a larger focus on retail sales, McGlaughlin said Wolfgang's future hasn't been defined by a few rough months in 2012.

The sale: On Oct. 5, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of the candy maker to Lancaster-based Food Management Systems Inc. for $1 million after a previous deal with an Alabama-based buyer fell through.

The sale price, which included nearly all of Wolfgang's assets, was paid to the confectionery manufacturer's debt holder, M&T Bank.

Part of the sale price also included a $150,000 buy-in, paid by Ben McGlaughlin, his brother Brad McGlaughlin, who also holds a management role at Wolfgang, and their father Dennis McGlaughlin.

The money gave the family 15 percent ownership in Wolfgang Operations LLC, which will operate Wolfgang Candy, and Wolfgang Ventures LLC, which will manage the real estate.

Wolfgang Ventures signed a four-year lease for $10,000 a month, payable to M&T Bank, said Mike Stillman, president of Food Management Systems.

"Bankruptcy is a difficult process. I'm impressed with the way (Ben McGlaughlin) has guided this company through that. A lot of other executives would hide their heads during stormy times," Stillman said.

New products: Ben McGlaughlin isn't the type to give up, McGlaughlin said. Instead, he was busy coming up with new products, such as the line of natural pretzels and filled truffle cookies.

"We're responding to the consumer trend of better-for-you foods," he said.

For example, the natural, chocolate-covered pretzels contain only natural ingredients.

To better market the new products, the company is hiring a vice president of sales, who will bring a wealth of intellectual capital and a proven track record in the sales industry, Ben McGlaughlin said.

The company considers the new position an investment in its future, Stillman said.

The CEO said he considers his leadership through stormy times his duty to the employees.

"I grew up in this business. Some of the people we have working on the manufacturing lines now were working on them when I was a kid," McGlaughlin said.

All 100 employees at Wolfgang were retained during the bankruptcy and subsequent change in ownership.

Ben McGlaughlin credited those employees for continuing to provide great service to customers during the sale of the company.

Fundraisers: One of those customers was York Haven Elementary School, which is part of the Northeastern School District.

The elementary school sells Wolfgang candy for fall and spring fundraisers, raising $10,000 each year, said Ashley Myers, vice president of the York Haven PTO.

That money pays for most of the events held at the elementary school during the academic year, she said.

The organization has used the candy fundraiser each of the last three years because it's convenient and doesn't require much heavy lifting, Myers said.

If the company had struggles in 2012, it never showed, she said.

"We've never had any problems with Wolfgang. They've been great to work with the entire time," Myers said.

The company will continue to build on its fundraising business in 2013, Ben McGlaughlin said.

"We're a viable, sustainable company, and we're here to stay," he said.

-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.