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Made in Ohio: Hats and sweets

May 19, 2010 1:42:24 PM PDT
A number of world-famous products are made right here in northwest Ohio.

Jeeps roll off the assembly lines in Toledo and go all over the world. We even have a local product that's gone out of this world. Tony Packo's pickles went up in the space shuttle. But there are a few things you might not know are homegrown.

The list is certainly too long to cover in one story, but it's an impressive lineup that includes the sport of kings and a favorite of children all over the globe.

When you think of the Kentucky Derby, Sylvania, Ohio probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But many of the horse owners and fans at the famous race are wearing hats from a local studio, Jill Henning Fineries.

Henning tells us, "Some are simple like ribbons and a flower or two and they take about an hour and a half. Some take several days to make and would retail for about $2,600. The simple ones go for $200-$350."

It all started about a decade ago when Jill began re-making hats she bought to wear at local parties. She "took them up north to see a buyer, and he bought every one of them and ordered for 21 stores. They flew me around the country for personal appearances and trunk shows, and then I opened a website, and I've been doing business ever since."

Jill's creations are worn at ladies' luncheons, garden parties and weddings. She's made hats for the rich and famous, like the singer Fergie, an Irish duchess and weight loss guru Jenny Craig. Henning says, "The funny thing is I don't even get a chance to wear hats any more because I am so busy working."

The bulk of her business comes from the equestrian or horse community. In fact, she's made hats for about a dozen horse owners at the Derby in the last decade.

But the Kentucky Derby is just one place you'll see her work. There's also "the Arkansas Derby, Del Mar Ladies Day in California, Saratoga Springs, Royal Ascot, the Polo Fields, the Hamptons and Palm Beach."

From hats to sweet treats, another northwest Ohio product is found around the world. The Spangler Candy Company in Bryan has been in business for more than a century.

It's one of the biggest candy companies in America and one of its most famous products is the Dum-Dum. CEO Dean Spangler said, "We make ten million a day and that comes out to 2.3 billion Dum-Dums a year. And the good news is that we are not just making them, we are selling them!"

The tough economy hasn't slowed sales. "What I tell people is that we're leaning on 100 million in sales but I won't tell you which side. We had a record first quarter and a record breaking April for sales and 2009 was a good year given the economy. We are very fortunate, very blessed."

In the last century, the company hasn't changed its recipe for success too much, but there will be some additions to the line-up. "We've gone from ten flavors to 16 flavors now and the mystery flavor. We'll probably go to 20 flavors in the next four to five years plus a mystery flavor."

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