Albanese Confectionery Group
To Scott Albanese, his company’s gummi bears and chocolate treats may as well be gourmet food.
“I am in confectionery, but I don’t look at it as candy,” Scott says. “People say: You make gummi bears, but, really, I make food. I treat this just like I am making pasta, there is no difference to me.”
Scott’s perspective on food has carried the family-owned company to innovation, growth, and recognition since launching in 1983 as a startup company in Northwest Indiana. Albanese is now a 350,000-square-foot factory with sophisticated automation.
“The question was always: Would the philosophy of high standards be recognized by consumers? No one was making high-end great-tasting candies that were affordable,” he says. “In the beginning, the food business was all about price. For me, it was: How can I make confectionery better? My factory better? The people who work here better? My food better?”
Scott adds in hindsight, his philosophy, backed by a strategy, positioned Albanese for its goal-busting growth over the years.
“As consumer tastes changed and people wanted things that were very unique and high quality, we were already there as a small Indiana, family-owned company,” he says. “Since 2009, my goal has been to just try to keep up with demand.”
Scott’s principles have spurred the company to create such new concepts as a technology for more intense gelatin flavor release and a process to pack in even more sour flavor into its gummies. All of its sweet products are produced in the factory on U.S. 30 with the best ingredients.
“We have been nominated for more awards, in the shortest amount of time, in the history of our industry … we are the industry leader,” he says.
The company employs roughly 450 at the factory and retail location at 5441 E. Lincoln Hwy. and the original retail location at 1910 W. U.S. 30 in Merrillville. The team ships its candy creations to more than 41 different countries.
“I feel we have certainly made a difference for the people who work for us. We were early adopters that you don’t need a college education to have an opportunity as we hire on character,” he says.
“We need people who understand people, and we regularly promote from within.”
Scott and wife Debbie are semi-retired and are passing the baton to daughters Tess, Bethany and Dominique Albanese as part of a 10-year succession plan.
“I have a very high sense of responsibility to the 450 people who are working here and I just couldn’t leave them in limbo, so I had to get a commitment from my daughters to continue the company,” he says.
“I received that commitment from my three daughters to adhere to our high standards and they have been running the company for about the last three to four years.”
A component of Scott’s entrepreneurial mindset has continued to propel his drive toward high standards and innovation.
“What is the biggest enemy of all human beings, you ask? Whether its relationships with your significant other, the people who work for you, your customers? … It’s complacency. What’s the opposite of complacency? It’s a healthy fear. Healthy fear drives me every day,” he says.
Scott says while being an entrepreneur presents challenges on a daily basis, sweets often brings out the best in people.
“Who wakes up crabby in the candy business?”
Albanese Confectionery Group Inc.
Two Merrillville locations