Soy Basics candle plant closing in northeast Iowa

Soft sales in the specialty candle market cited as reason for closure

George Ford
Published: January 17 2014 | 11:43 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:17 am in

Six years after it was purchased by S.C. Johnson & Co., a northeast Iowa soy candle manufacturing plant will be closing on July 1.

Soy Basics, founded under a different name by an entrepreneur in Tipton and moved to New Hampton in 2001, employs 57 in the production of soy wax candles. Employment topped 90 during peak production periods.

In a statement announcing the company's decision to close the 115,000-square-foot plant, Kelly Semrau, S.C. Johnson senior vice president for global corporate affairs, communication and sustainability, cited soft sales in the specialty candle market.

"Since the economic crisis of 2008, more than 150,000 U.S. specialty boutique stores have closed," Semrau said. "Unfortunately, the market for specialty candles has not rebounded."

Soy Basics contends it is the only soy wax candle manufacturer that makes a 100 percent soy wax candle. The company, purchased by S.C. Johnson in July 2008, is the largest producer of soy wax candles in the United States with sales in 50 states and Canada.

Racine, Wis-based S.C. Johnson said it will provide the affected employees a severance package based on years of service, with a minimum of nine weeks pay, job training assistance, as well as continuing health benefits through the month of July.

S.C. Johnson said it will sell the New Hampton facility near the corner of U.S. Highways 63 and 18 and try to bring in a new employer. The company closed a Soy Basics outlet store in New Hampton on Jan. 1.

S.C. Johnson said it will donate $20,000 to the New Hampton Great Plays Daycare Center and $10,000 to the New Hampton United Fund.

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