Brattleboro maple candy and cream plant sold

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BRATTLEBORO — A sweet deal has been made for two Vermont companies specializing in maple products.

The Cambridge-based Runamok Maple has acquired a maple candy and cream operation from Bascom Maple Farms. The equipment is housed in rented space at the Cotton Mill in Brattleboro.

"It fits really well with our business," said Eric Sorkin, co-founder of Runamok Maple.

The assets from the operation were sold on Dec. 16. The price was kept confidential.

After talking with company principal Bruce Bascom, Sorkin learned Bascom was interested in finding someone to take over the confection plant.

"Now, something that was a small part of his business is a large part of mine," said Sorkin, who has 81,000 maple syrup taps in Cambridge. "It's a great opportunity."

After nine years, Sorkin's company launched a retail line last summer. The idea is to sell directly to the consumers rather than purchasers, who also sell to retail outlets and other customers. The company's syrups are organic and can go with specific foods or cocktails.

Sorkin's wife is a chef. The couple missed interacting with "the end user," Sorkin said.

"As part of that, the maple candy and cream just fits in with it," he said. "They've built a really great operation. He does a lot of private label work for other companies, providers and businesses, so they can sell it themselves."

The only thing that has changed at the Cotton Mill facility, Sorkin said, is the name over the door. Bascom Maple Farms will continue to sell candy made there.

"Bruce Bascom is now our largest customer," Sorkin said. "We're making those candies and packaging for them. We're selling to them. They're selling to their end user."

The arrangement is fairly standard in the industry, said Sorkin, who sees "tremendous potential" in the acquisition.

But since most businesses are also privately owned, it's difficult to tell where the company stands in terms of economic success.

"To the best of our ability to tell, this is the largest maple candy and cream operation in the country," said Sorkin. "Right now, there are six employees. During the busier season, there's as many as 18."

Runamok is "growing rapidly," Sorkin said, having been featured in national publications and getting inquiries from customers interested in the private label offerings made available with the Brattleboro plant.

Bruce Bascom said candy is a very small portion of his company's total business.

"It's probably under 2 or 3 percent of our total gross sales," he told the Reformer. "At this point of time, we're their best customer. But the world is a big place."

He described the deal as a "win-win situation." He anticipates Runamok moving the candy operation up to Cambridge at some point in the future.

Bascom Maple Farms employs about 65 people. About 12 of the employees, who currently work on sales and national marketing in an office at the Cotton Mill, will eventually relocate to the Marlboro College Graduate School building on Vernon Street in Brattleboro.

Bascom Maple Farms has about 90,000 maple syrup taps and buys from about 3,000 producers based in Vermont, New York and Maine. The company has a processing plant near Alstead, N.H. Equipment at the confection plant was purchased about 10 years ago.

With his own plate being "pretty full" right now, Bascom said Sorkin will do "an excellent job because he's very into meticulous details."

"I think he's the right person for that particular kind of company," Bascom added. "We, ourselves, are more commodity packers for price clubs, grocery stores and a lot of ingredient factories."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.

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