Frank Sarris, the founder of Sarris Candies, gave the first box of chocolates he ever made to his future wife Athena. From there, Sarris pursued his interest in the confectionery arts, ultimately becoming a maître chocolatier. With the encouragement of friends and family, Sarris made his hobby his full time job and left his work as a fork lift operator to establish Sarris Candies in 1960. Sarris ran the small operation out of the basement of his home.
As the popularity of the candies grew, Sarris moved his business to a small storefront in 1963 and later to a chocolate factory and store that spans the length of a football field and stands as a Canonsburg landmark, offering 100 yards of different penny candies and chocolate treats. Today, Sarris Candies manufactures an assortment of products such as boxed chocolates, pretzels and popcorn, cookies, fondue, penny candies, home made ice cream, and toppings. The factory sells directly to consumers and to local supermarkets and wholesale retailers such as Kroger, Stop ‘n Save, Hallmark, CVS and Rite Aid. The business has also passed into the hands of Frank’s son, Bill.
A Long-standing Resource
As demand for Sarris Candies’ products grew, the company was challenged to increase output — particularly for its signature chocolate-covered pretzels.
“Our 100-calorie pretzels are one of our best selling items and we needed a chocolate enrober to help us meet production demand quickly and efficiently,” said Sarris.
Having outgrown the company’s old chocolate enrober, Sarris headed to PACK EXPO to find a solution that could provide additional capacity to move more product along the line. For him, the show has been a long-standing resource.
“We’ve been attending PACK EXPO for years to find the technologies we need and get an idea of what’s around the corner,” Sarris said. “This trip was no different. We knew we would find what we were looking for.”
Sarris and his team set out onto the show floor and met with several exhibitors showcasing competitive technologies. The ability to compare solutions side-by-side helped the group efficiently examine their options.
“Being exposed to so many exhibitors makes it easy to compare machines and their applications and determine what works best for us,” said Sarris.
A New Solution
Sarris ultimately decided to purchase a Nielsen Master Enrober from A.E. Nielsen, part of Aasted — a worldwide manufacturer of processing solutions for the confectionery and baking industries. The company has supplied other equipment to Sarris Candies in the past.
The Nielsen Master Enrober works with chocolate, sugar and other ingredients to coat a wide range of confectionery, bakery and biscuit products. It is designed for all common enrobing tasks with tempered and non-tempered chocolate as well as 24/7 production for continuous output. The machine’s lower section that contains the chocolate service tank is detachable, enabling fast changeover between different chocolate coatings. The machine can be supplied in belt widths from 850 mm to 2,600 mm.
“The Master Enrober not only helped us quadruple production output; it also helped us reduce labor costs by enabling quick changeover between multiple products,” said Sarris. “The parts from A. E. Nielsen are interchangeable between different systems, which allows for further efficiencies.”
Imagining the Future
With another successful PACK EXPO purchase under his belt, Sarris will return to the show this year in Chicago.
“We plan to send three to five people from production and maintenance,” Sarris said. “The show offers a lot of stimulation and definitely sparks the imagination. We divide into teams to walk the floor and look for technologies that inspire us and could have a positive impact on our business. We meet at the end of each day to share experiences and exchange ideas. I’m sure that PACK EXPO will once again play a critical role in supporting the growth of Sarris Candies in the coming years.”
PACK EXPO International 2012 will be held from Oct. 28-31 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. To register for PACK EXPO International 2012, visit www.packexpo.com. You can also contact PMMI’s Show Department at 703.243.8555; fax: 703.243.8556; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
PMMI is a trade association of about 600 member companies that manufacture packaging, processing and related converting machinery in the United States or Canada; machinery components and packaging containers and materials. PMMI’s vision is to be the leading global resource for the packaging and processing supply chain, and its mission is to improve and promote members' abilities to meet the needs of their customers.
PMMI organizes the PACK EXPO trade shows: PACK EXPO International, PACK EXPO Las Vegas and EXPO PACK México, connecting participants in the packaging and processing supply chain with their customers around the world. Coming Up: EXPO PACK México, June 26–29 in Mexico City, Mexico; PACK EXPO International at McCormick Place in Chicago, Oct. 28–31, 2012.