With each pass of the paint roller, the dingy walls and dirty floors were transformed to bright white, creating a clean slate for Holm Made Toffee’s plans to double its space in Bend.
Soon, equipment will move in to the former Honest Baking site. The expanded home of Holm Made Toffee on NE First Street will open in March, co-founder Randi Holm said, although, production will crank up in time to restock shelves for Valentine’s Day.
“We need this space for growth,” said Holm, 35. “It is so hard to find kitchen space in Bend.”
This is the second expansion for the company that began in Holm’s mother-in-law’s licensed domestic kitchen in Glide. Since, the company has grown 315 percent, Holm said. Last year, the company produced and sold 10,000 pounds of toffee.
The company took a giant step in 2016 and opened a full-fledged production and packaging facility in Bend after operating out of their homes in Glide and Bend, Holm said.
The toffee was produced in her mother-in-law’s kitchen — a three-hour drive from Bend — and Holm packaged and delivered the product from her home in Bend. When Holm decided to bring the business to Bend, it took several years to find a commercial kitchen. Today, the business has about four employees, including a production manager who is the only nonfamily member to know the toffee recipes of the six flavors.
“We realized we just couldn’t do everything ourselves anymore,” she said.
Last year, Holm and company learned that the space adjacent to their Bend location on NE First Street would become available. They began planning the expansion that ultimately will link the two spaces, one side for production and the other for packaging and distribution. The facility is in Bend’s Makers District, an area of craftsmanship and boutique manufacturing from NE Olney to NE Greenwood avenues .
“This space is perfect for us. I am sorry to see Honest Baking go out. They were great neighbors, and we collaborated often. I like it here in The Makers District,” Holm said. “We are all small, locally owned businesses.”
Economic Development for Central Oregon, a nonprofit that helps businesses get off the ground, works to help new entrepreneurs grow and be competitive.
“Our role is to act as a business concierge,” said Kip Barrett, Bend area director for Economic Development for Central Oregon.
“Holm Made Toffee is doing great. We help entrepreneurs who are doing the hard work in whatever way they need.”
Holm Made Toffee is based on a 30-year-old recipe based on hazelnuts and incorporates no preservatives, she said. For the lavender toffee, the lavender is harvested from a farm in Tumalo. For the hazelnuts, they’re grown in Monmouth.
“People say our toffee tastes like what their mom or grandmother would have made,” she said. “We still make it by hand. We don’t use corn syrup and use ingredients that would be in your pantry. We’re not going to change the recipe.”
The 1,200-square-foot in the new space will enable the company to double its production, she said.
“This is a big step for us. We’re going to have new packaging, new employees and new space. This is what I imagined,” she said. “In the last two years, our growth has kind of stabilized because we’ve focused on finding space to expand in.”
Bend is a haven for small businesses and entrepreneurs who can work together. One of the key people who has reached out to Holm Made Toffee is Jeff Labhart, owner of Bontà Natural Artisan Gelato, a Bend-based small business in operation for seven years.
“We work with each other and help each other,” said Labhart, who runs the business with his wife, Julie. “We share information and network. We talk a lot about equipment — what type to buy, contractors and packaging.”
When the space is up and running, customers will notice new packaging, but the same toffee inside, Holm said. The various toffee products can be found in 65 locations and at expos and fairs throughout Oregon.
“It’s been great how my mentors have been willing to share with me advice and information. What I really like about Bend is that the people really are open to share their successes and failures.”
— Reporter: 541-633-2117, firstname.lastname@example.org