By Stephanie Nicol and Rick Morwick
Our state is home to the makers of quality products, many recognized around the world
Spend some time with Mark Tarner, founder and owner of the South Bend Chocolate Company, and you’ll discover a passion not only for his customers, company, and 250 employees, but also for his community. Mark grew up in South Bend, Indiana, and he’s raised his family here. And, he has no plans to leave.
“I want to continue to support this community,” he says. Mark is not alone—more than 156,000 companies choose to make their home in Indiana, from pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to smaller family-owned farms like Goat Milk Stuff in Scottsburg and Dillman Farm in Bloomington. As we wind down 2016 and the year of Indiana’s Bicentennial, it’s a good time to reflect on all things that make this state great, including Indiana-based companies who collectively employ hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers.
Some goods made in Indiana are sold around the world; and while many of us use these products every day, we may not know they were made in our own back yard. For example, Bar Keepers Friend, a household cleansing product manufactured on the west side of Indianapolis, is not only sold through retailers across the U.S., but also in countries like Australia, China, the U.K, and more.
“Our Bar Keepers Friend cleaning products have been made in Indiana since 1882 so we plan to stay, says Eric SerVaas of SerVaas Laboratories. “And the state’s business-friendly environment makes the decision easy.”Terre Haute-based Clabber Girl is one of America’s oldest food brands still in use, and one of Indiana’s oldest companies. Best known for its baking powder and baking soda, the firm also offers products such as coffee, pudding, pie filling, and gelatin. Sold in retail stores around the country, Clabber Girl products are also prominently used in food service and industrial manufacturing applications.
Kokomo Opalescent Glass, which was established in 1888, has shipped its products as far away as Australia, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Germany, Japan, and Israel. “Kokomo Opalescent Glass is the oldest art glass company in America, but our glass can be seen all around the world,” says John O’Donnell, owner and CEO of Kokomo Opalescent Glass. “Though we have international clients from Germany to Japan, we’re proud to still make our quality products right here in Indiana.”
Centerville’s Warm Glow Candle Company, which literally started in the basement of owners and Indiana natives Alan & Jackie Carberry, is now housed in an 80,000-square-foot facility with the capacity of producing up to 15,000 candles per day that are sold around the world.
Indiana is a national leader in manufacturing, a distinction that fuels employment and speaks to the quality of Indiana- made products. According to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana ranks seventh among the top 10 states in manufacturing employment. It’s number-one in that same category among upper Midwestern states. As those figures reflect, buying products made in Indiana, be it from mom-and-pop operations, family-owned farms, or corporate manufactures, benefits Hoosiers on a variety of fronts. Communities with several locally-based companies can see increases in tourism, like Fort Wayne, which is home to Vera Bradley, Cinda B, Matilda Jane, and Peg Perego; along with DeBrands Fine Chocolates and Aunt Millies Bakeries, both of which offer public tours.
Candies, coffees, wines, cleaning products, baking goods, pharmaceuticals, candles, cheeses, furniture, handbags, soups, syrups, spirits, popcorn, pottery and barbecue sauces are but a tiny sampling of quality goods manufactured—on micro and macro levels—in Indiana.
So when contemplating that perfect holiday gift or pondering new furniture or simply searching for world-class products, cookware or craft spirits, look for it—and buy it—from companies based in Indiana. You can’t go wrong.