With a new home, the company hopes to re-establish accounts and develop new ones for its still-popular signature pillar candles, as well as its votives, melting tarts and candle accessories.
Wicks n’ More is now in a 1,500-square-foot building in Saltillo that serves as its manufacturing, warehouse and retail base of operations.
“It’s a little small – we could probably use 2,000 square feet, but we’ll be OK,” said Jim Troxler, who oversees the operations. “But we do have a full basement and small mezzanine area that probably gives us what we need.”
His sons, Will and Ben, bought Wicks n’ More from its founders, Beckey and Kim Neal, in 2013.
The company has scaled down quite a bit from its peak about a decade ago, when it had some 3,000 customers across the country and pulled in seven-figure sales.
Wicks n’ More is a long way from that, but the Troxlers aren’t giving up on an established, well-regarded brand.
It starts from their tidy but efficient space that also serves as a mall retail outlet.
“The thing is we were in two previous places that were really too big, and this is the first time we’ve had it where it’s just the right size,” Jim Troxler said. “We’ve had to do some consolidation to get everything in here, but we’re real pleased with it because it cut our overhead by about a third.”
The candle company, established in 1999, is known for its signature hand-poured candles. But a series of setbacks nearly put Wicks n’ More out of business.
In 2009, the Neals had to buy back the intellectual property rights of their business from a Texas-based investment firm, after it bought the majority of the company. The firm liquidated, forcing Wicks n’ More to close its Mantachie facility and lay off 50 people. That left Wicks n’ More in a precarious position, but the Neals started the company over again essentially in Mooreville.
But then that factory was gutted in a fire in September 2012, which swept through the building, destroying vital equipment and inventory.
The company had opened a retail store inside The Mall at Barnes Crossing earlier that year, but without inventory, the Neals couldn’t get a factory up and running quickly enough to supply the store or fill the orders from its accounts nationwide.
By November of that year, Beckey had found a temporary manufacturing space – her garage – to try to keep up with some production. But it was unsustainable, and she faced the prospects of liquidating the company once and for all.
But the Troxlers, who had known the Neals for years, came to the rescue. Jim was one of Wicks n’ More’s first customers, through his retail store, and in the summer of 2013, the Troxlers bought the equipment and recipes from the Neals with their blessing.
After operating from Church Street in Tupelo the past three years, Wicks n’ More moved to Pulltight Road in Saltillo last month.
“Less overhead means we can put more money back into the business,” Jim Troxler said. “It frees up money that now you can do creative things with. You can also spend money on advertising and to get sales reps. We’ve picked up some real good reps in Colorado and Minnesota, for example.”
Troxler also is encouraged that Wicks n’ More is getting reorders. While landing new accounts is good, having repeat customers is even better. It means the product is selling, and retailers and consumers are wanting more.
“We’ve had some customers who have ordered every month this year, and that’s a good sign,” he said.
The company targets smaller, independent boutiques and shops, as production is limited to smaller quantities. One day, Troxler hopes to expand and fill larger orders or bigger customers. But it’s one step at a time, he said.
As for the company’s new home, Troxler couldn’t be happier.
“We’re just excited to be here,” he said. “The city has been very welcoming to us, and we’re glad we could help fill what was an empty building for them as well.”