Press Releases

Christian Brands Acquires Sudbury Brass

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

PHOENIX (March 26, 2015) - Christian Brands of Phoenix, AZ has acquired the Sudbury Brass Goods Company of Malden, Massachusetts.

Sudbury Brass was founded in 1927 as a silversmithing and church appointment repair and refinishing firm. The owners recognized a need for quality church brassware early on and assembled talented craftsmen and artisans to develop the vast selection of quality worship products well known in the industry today. Sudbury Brass is the oldest church sanctuary furnishings firm in the United States.

For nearly 90 years, Sudbury has been in the church altar appointments business and is renowned for producing the highest quality church goods products, utilizing old world artistry combined with new and innovative designs.

"We are very pleased to have a new strategic partner who can leverage our wonderful brand with marketing prowess in direct mail, telemarketing, field reps and E-Commerce in both the Christian and Catholic marketplace. Sudbury Brass has "state of the art" metal forming and finishing equipment that rivals any manufacturer in our industry. Combining the manufacturing experience of Sudbury with the sales thrust of Christian Brands is the "perfect fit", said Richard Newhouse President of Sudbury Brass.

Christian Brands, founded in 1948, is a distribution, importing and manufacturing firm with six distinct catalogs that sell direct to institutions and to an assortment of resellers across the country.

Recent acquisitions in their wholesale division include Robert Smith (furniture), Will & Baumer (candles), Creed (jewelry), Heartfelt (wall art) and Gerffert (art masterpieces), RJ Toomey (Apparel) and Universal Designs (Stationery). Products in these brands are sold to an assortment of channels within the Christian, Catholic and secular wholesale fields with a special emphasis in the Christian church supply industry.

Paul DiGiovanni, President of Christian Brands, said, "We are thrilled to be a part of the great heritage at Sudbury Brass Goods Company. With the Sudbury Brass manufacturing resources and their experienced metal craftsmen, we firmly believe we will continue to grow profitably and offer our customers the highest quality products and superior customer service that our industry have come to expect. We are honored to continue this wonderful tradition."

Christian Brands is headquartered in Phoenix Arizona with manufacturing facilities, a call center and a distribution center in Lewisburg; TN. (www.christianbrands.com)

Christian Brands Acquires Universal Designs

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

PHOENIX (April 1st, 2015) - Christian Brands of Phoenix, AZ has acquired the Universal Designs® Company of DeLand, Florida.

Universal Designs®, founded by Bobbi and Ronald Baugh in 1999, is a family owned and operated company focused on providing excellent products and service to the Christian Book Association (CBA).

Since 1999 the Universal Designs Company has been managed by the Baughs and has solidified its position as the market leader in paper products, inspirational gifts and related items. Core products include Pass it on® Message Cards and Posters, Names to Remember™ cards, VerseCards™ and VerseMarks™.

"We are very pleased to have a new strategic partner who will share our vision for Universal Designs which has built its business on printing and finishing quality products, fulfilling the unique gift-giving needs of people in the Christian Gift Industry. This team is well versed with the needs of our industry and can help strengthen our position as a leader in the stationery field," said Bobbi Baugh, President of Universal Designs. "With their resources, and the help of their field sales force, telemarketing staff and sophisticated web presence we firmly believe Universal Designs will continue to grow profitably and offer our customers the highest quality products and superior customer service that our industry has come to expect."

Christian Brands, founded in 1948, is a distribution, importing and manufacturing firm with six distinct catalogs that sell direct to institutions and to an assortment of resellers across the country.

Recent acquisitions in their wholesale division include Robert Smith (furniture), Will & Baumer (candles), Creed (jewelry), Heartfelt (wall art), Gerffert (art masterpieces), and RJ Toomey (Apparel). Products in these brands are sold to an assortment of channels within the Christian and secular gift fields with a special emphasis in the Christian retail channel.

Paul DiGiovanni, President of Christian Brands, said, "We are thrilled to be a part of the great heritage at Universal Designs. The Baugh family has combined vision and hard work to build this unique gift brand and we look forward to continued success in both the secular and Christian Gift arena."

Christian Brands is headquartered in Phoenix Arizona with manufacturing facilities, a call center and a distribution center in Lewisburg; TN. (www.christianbrands.com)

Jim Shore, partners with CB Gift, a division of Christian Brands

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

World-renowned artist, Jim Shore, partners with CB Gift, a division of Christian Brands, for January 2015 new product introductions. Jim Shore's new products with CB Gift will be introduced at the Atlanta, Dallas and Las Vegas Gift Shows.
Christian Brands is honored to work with Jim Shore. His artistic talent and attention to detail, along with his enormous popularity, are greatly received and truly appreciated by Christian Brands. His ability to create distinctive designs that tell a story and touch lives is truly inspiring and will fit beautifully within the CB Gift umbrella.

Jim Shore’s art is appreciated and beloved by many. His highly detailed, artistic designs are recognized globally and bring much joy to those who give and receive them. CB Gift would like to carry on that appreciation and joy by offering a home décor driven collection of wall crosses and wall art that celebrates the artistic tradition and value of a classic Jim Shore work of art. Product shown is representative of original Jim Shore artwork. ©2014 Jim Shore Designs, Inc.

"When you put love and carring into a work, you succeed. It has to come straight from the heart." - Jim Shore.

Since 1948, Christian Brands has been in business selling inspirational product to retailers worldwide.

Beth Williams
Director of New Product Development
Christian Brands
5226 S 31st Pl,
Phoenix, AZ 85040
1.602.441.1455
www.CB-Gift.com

Christian Brands Acquires R.J. Toomey

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

Phoenix, AZ, September 26, 2014 - Christian Brands of Phoenix, AZ has acquired the R.J. Toomey Company of Worcester, Massachusetts.

R.J. Toomey is the oldest and best-known clerical apparel firm in the United States. The R.J. Toomey firm was founded in 1936 by Richard J. Toomey, and together with two of his brothers, Lawrence J. Toomey and John A. Toomey, incorporated the Company in 1946. In 1973, the brothers Richard and John sold their interest in the Company to Lawrence, who owned and operated the Company until his death in 1976.

Since 1976 the R.J. Toomey Company has been managed by the daughters of Lawrence Toomey and has solidified its position as the market leader in clergy shirts, tailored clergy apparel and altar server attire.

"We are very pleased to have a new strategic partner who will share our vision for R.J. Toomey and whose experience can help expand the company. This team is well versed with the needs of our industry and can help strengthen our position as a leader in the clerical apparel field," said Pat Toomey Renda, President of R.J. Toomey. "With their resources, and the help of their field sales force, telemarketing staff and sophisticated web presence we firmly believe R.J. Toomey will continue to grow profitably and offer our customers the highest quality products and superior customer service that our industry have come to expect."

Christian Brands, founded in 1948 as the Autom brand, is a distribution, importing and manufacturing firm with five distinct catalogs that sell direct to institutions and to an assortment of resellers across the country. Recent acquisitions in their reseller division include Robert Smith (furniture), Will & Baumer (candles), Creed (jewelry), Heartfelt (wall art) and Gerffert (art masterpieces). Products in these brands are sold to an assortment of channels within the Christian and secular gift fields with a special emphasis in the Christian church supply industry.

Paul DiGiovanni, President of Christian Brands, said, "We are thrilled to be a part of the great heritage at R.J. Toomey. The Toomey family has combined vision and hard work to build this brand into the indisputable industry leader. Together, with the wonderful long time employees of the R. J. Toomey Company, we are honored to continue this wonderful tradition."

Christian Brands is headquartered in Phoenix Arizona with manufacturing facilities, a call center and a distribution center in Lewisburg; TN. (www.ChristianBrands.com) R.J. Toomey will continue to manufacture in their present location in Worcester, MA.

Christian Brands Announces the Promotion of Brian Schroeder to Vice President of Marketing and Sales

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

Christian Brands June 17, 2014 - inbusinessmag.com

Christian Brands, a multi-brand gift importing firm focused on inspirational gifts and table-top and wall art since 1948, announced today that industry veteran Brian Schroeder has been promoted to vice president of sales and marketing.

With more than fifteen years of industry experience, Schroeder has a significant marketing and sales background, including eight years at Roman where he served as its regional sales manager and contributed to the commercial success of its many bestselling gift lines.

Schroeder's new duties will include supervision of the mail order marketing and circulation of the Christian Brands' three direct catalog offerings as well as growing the wholesale side of the business which includes sales to gift store chains, independent gift stores and large retailers. Schroeder will work closely with new product development to launch timely new product offerings to coincide with gifts shows in January, June and July.

"We are fortunate to have someone of Brian's experience leading our sales and marketing teams," stated Paul DiGiovanni, chief executive officer of Christian Brands. "Brian is very adept at the tactical side of selling and introducing new product programs to large and small customers alike and tailoring these programs to their specific needs." The company continues to grow its business by developing and acquiring brands that share a common "Christian" theme.

See the complete article at inbusinessmag.com

Christian Brands Responds to Boston Marathon Bombing: Donates Rosaries to Boston Dioceses

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

Phoenix, AZ, April 20, 2013 - PR.com

While horrific events like the Boston Marathon bombing can tear families and lives apart, they can also bring people and communities together. Such is the case for a Valley company, Christian Brands, which recently announced it will donate 3,000 rosaries and holy cards to the Boston Catholic Diocese to distribute.

Christian Brands has provided religious products and services to consumers, churches and faith-based organizations locally and nationally for more than half a century. Much of their success is attributed to their commitment and involvement in the community from every level of the company. When compelling events like the tragedy that unfolded April 15, in Boston, it left only one question for the company: how to respond in a meaningful way.

"We know how important it is to come together as a community when tragedies like this strike and we want to do what we can to help in the healing process," said owner, Paul DiGiovanni.

DiGiovanni added, "If this small gesture can provide some comfort to the many who are struggling to cope physically and emotionally with the attack, we feel compelled to help. The entire Boston and marathon community is in our thoughts and prayers during this trying time."

Christian Brands, Inc., and its family of inspirational product companies include Autom, Living Grace, Milagros, Heartfelt, Will & Baumer and Creed is family owned and operated since 1948 and is located at 5226 S. 31st Place, Phoenix, Arizona and on the Web at www.christianbrands.com.

Christian Brands expanding here (Lewisburg, TN)

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

By Clint Confehr, Senior Staff Writer - Marshall County Tribune

Up to 50 jobs are anticipated at the recently renamed I-65 Commerce Park in Lewisburg because of decisions made Tuesday afternoon by the city's Industrial Development Board.

What started in the spring of 2008 under the then corporate name of Autom Church Supply Co. of Phoenix, Ariz., has grown into the Christian Brands family of products: candles, jewelry and now home decorations with inspirational messages. "Heartfelt Home Accents is in the process of moving from Roanoke, Va." to Lewisburg's Commerce Park, according to Bryan McMahon, vice president and chief financial officer at Christian Brands' headquarters in Phoenix.

Wall hangings, shadow boxes and such are the products made by Heartfelt Home Accents. The displays have a Christian message in words and/or art. Christian Brands' best-selling church supply products include rosaries, Bibles and other staples of religious life and church services.

McMahon and other Christian Brands leaders anticipate the "conversion" to Lewisburg to be completed this spring, probably by June, he said.

Manufacture of framed inspirational artwork is anticipated in the building constructed by the company in the Commerce Park. It's the first building on the left, as a motorist would drive into the park.

"We're splitting off part of the Will & Baumer building," McMahon said, referring to the 150-year-old candle maker that moved here from Syracuse, N.Y. A July 2009 ground breaking led to that plat which also includes Creed Jewelry, another business that's since been acquired by Christian Brands.

However, new floor-space is to be constructed in the building by "creating a mezzanine level" within the production building that just across a driveway and parking lot from the company's call center and shipping operation. Construction and related costs are not expected to exceed $300,000, according to the resolution adopted by the city's IDB during its noon Tuesday meeting in the Historic First Avenue Building. The document authorizes a third mortgage on the real estate under an earlier agreement between the city and Christian Brands.

Lewisburg-based attorney Bob Binkley represented First Commerce Bank when the resolution was presented to the board. As the chief operating officer at First Commerce, Eddie Wiles abstained from voting on the resolution. Wiles is chairman of the IDB. Dave Kennedy, another member of the IDB, recently joined the First Commerce Board of Directors, so he, too, abstained. A majority vote was recorded and the project to increase floor space at the plant is proceeding as planned.

"I think they are projecting 50 new jobs there in the next few years," Binkley said Wednesday.

The building has high ceilings and so there's plenty of room for a second story, or half story within the building.

A job fair was conducted in January at the Goodwill Career Solutions for Heartfelt Home Accents.

Digital Marketing Agency @Website Publicity Announces New Client Christian Brands

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

Peterborough, NH (PRWEB) December 13, 2011 - Digital marketing agency @Website Publicity announced today the signing of new client Christian Brands, the multichannel retailer of Christian products.

Since 1948, Christian Brands has been selling religious and inspirational products to churches and retailers worldwide through its family of brands, featuring over 100,000 products in eight catalogs. These include Autom, Living Grace, Gifts of Faith, Milagros, Will & Baumer, Creed, Faithworks and Heartfelt. @Website Publicity has been named digital agency of record for the company's flagship catalog and website for Catholic churches, Autom, and for the company's new e-commerce site for consumers, Catholic Gifts & More.

Director of Marketing Mary Ellen Wanamaker said that because the consumer site is a new venture for the company, its marketing strategy will rely heavily on Search, Social Media and Mobile advertising to introduce it. "Catholic Gifts & More is a robust retail site with a wide variety of products, including gift ideas for many religious and secular occasions," she said. "And because the site is new, we needed to find a cost-effective way to get the word out to our target market. In partnership with @Website Publicity, our products are now getting significant exposure not only through the search engines like Google, but throughout the Web."

For more information about Christian Brands, visit the company's website: http://www.ChristianBrands.com.

For more information on @Website Publicity, call 800-450-2818, ext. 203, or visit http://www.WebsitePublicity.com.

Christian Brands purchases Heartfelt Inc.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

Christian Brands of Phoenix, AZ has purchased Heartfelt Inc. of Salem, VA, effective August 1, 2011.

Heartfelt, Inc. was founded in 1987 by Linwood and Lea Metts. The company has built a reputation in the industry over the last 24 years for quality, unique designs and high-perceived value. Heartfelt creates extensive collections of framed inspirations and sentiments, as well as other gift-related products for gift stores and Christian bookstores. The manufacturing facility and corporate offices for Heartfelt, Inc. are located in Salem, VA.

Christian Brands, founded in 1948, is a holding company consisting of 12 brands that sell product to multiple channels in the Christian field. Starting with the Autom brand in 1948, this family-owned firm has created or acquired Living Grace, Milagros, Gifts of Faith and Aquinas Press. Since 2004, Christian Brands has acquired Robert Smith Furniture, Lumen Deo Candle, Chace Candles, Will & Baumer Candle Company and Creed Rosary. Christian Brands is headquartered in Phoenix, AZ with manufacturing facilities, a call center and a distribution center in Lewisburg, TN.

Mr. Linwood Metts, Co-Owner and CEO of Heartfelt, said, "We are very pleased to have a new strategic partner who shares our vision and whose experience can help grow the business. The Christian Brands team is well versed with the needs of our industry and can help us solidify our leadership position in the framed wall art category. We like the way Christian Brands does business, and we believe Heartfelt will continue to offer its customers the highest quality products and the superior service that customers have come to expect."

Paul DiGiovanni, Christian Brands President, said, "We are thrilled to have Heartfelt join our growing portfolio of brands. With vision and hard work, Linwood and his wife, Lea, have built Heartfelt into a well-known brand that stands for outstanding quality, high perceived value and exceptional customer service."

For more information on Heartfelt, visit www.heartfelt-inc.com; for more information on Christian Brands, visit http://www.ChristianBrands.com.

Creed Rosary Sold in Wrentham

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

Phoenix-based Christian Brands has purchased Creed Rosary Co. of Wrentham, manufacturer of rosaries and religious medals and chains. Christian is a holding company that owns a number of companies that manufacture or market Christian religious items including Autom, Living Grace, Milagros, Gifts of Faith, Aquinas Press, Catholic Gifts and More, Faithworks, Robert Smith Furniture, Chace Candles and Will and Baumer Candle Co. The company maintains a manufacturing and distribution facility in Lewisburg, Tenn.

Alan Bedard, former owner of Creed Rosary, confirmed the sale. Christian Brands officials could not be reached for comment.

Creed Rosary has a long history in the Attleboro area and was formerly located in Attleboro and North Attleboro. The company has been located in Wrentham for the last 10 years.

More Jobs Coming to Lewisburg

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

Twelve to 15 jobs are coming to Lewisburg this summer as a business based in Phoenix, Ariz., continues to grow, according to discussion heard at the city's Industrial Development Board meeting on Monday.

Christian Brands, the business that moved its call center, shipping and receiving operation to Lewisburg's Business Park, is constructing a new building for Creed Jewelry, a manufacturer destined to move here from Massachusetts, the city's industrial developer, Greg Lowe, said.

IDB Chairman Eddie Wiles introduced Joseph Cameron to the board during the panel's monthly luncheon meeting in City Hall. Cameron said he's been employed since May of 1996 by the manufacturer of rosaries, rosary centers, crucifixes, charms, rings and similar Christian jewelry.

Christian Brands has acquired Creed Rosary Manufacturing of Wrentham, Mass. where Cameron has worked as a press operator and, as the business adjusted to current economic circumstances, he's effectively been a supervisor at the plant for the century-old business, said Cameron. He's been in town to consider the move.

In February 2010 candle making was restarted here by Will & Baumer, an historic business that moved from Syracuse, N.Y. Christian Brands, previously known as Autom, purchased Will & Baumer in January 2008. With roots in a family business, Will & Baumer is the oldest candle company in America, according to Paul DiGiovanni, one of two sons running the business built by their father.

With clear and reconfirmed information that Christian Brands is growing again, an official at Will & Baumer was called Monday afternoon. He was reluctant to make any announcement on his own, but the on-going construction near the candle factory reveals expansion.

Christian Brands also has a site on the north side of its call center, shipping and receiving operation in the business park, but opening another business there by July seems less likely than moving the Creed Jewelry operation into what's under construction by Will & Baumer.

In fact, Lowe confirmed Cameron's view that Christian Brands wants to grow more.

"That's why they're building ... the 10,000 square feet," Lowe said. "They're hoping to be up and running by July, but that's weather dependent."

© Copyright 2011 Marshall County Tribune. All rights reserved.

A Chandle to Remember a War Hero

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

There are people we meet in life who are just average Joes. Dependable, friendly, but quiet. They don't draw attention. They don't stand out in a crowd or at a party, and they may be easily forgotten. Indeed, it may even be said they are unremarkable.

Perhaps such is the case with Chace Gilmore. His boyhood chums were hard-pressed to describe him better than "the cleanest-living person I ever knew," in the words of his friend Barnes McCormick.

Chace liked sports, but his friends don't remember him participating, nor could they remember any of his hobbies. Chace never swore and didn't date much but was always friendly and dependable, they said. The Daily Local News once described Chace as "a youth of fine character."

Except perhaps for his clean living, Chace never stood out. Maybe his only remarkable achievement was his perfect attendance at Sunday school, probably at his mother's urging.

And there is no record of any great heroic deed by Chace. But he gave his life in service to his country, and that indeed makes him a hero and thus worth remembering and honoring.

Chace Russell Gilmore was born Sept. 4, 1925, to Chace and Jennie Gilmore, who lived off Pottstown Pike (Route 100) north of West Chester. Their home was about where St. Matthew Assembly of God Church stands today, just north of the Wawa convenience store.

Chace's father was an inventor of some fame and was granted several patents. His machine shop was next to his home. He invented a machine that connected upholstery springs, and he assigned it to the Peerless Spring Co. that rented space at Hoops Brothers on Market Street. He later invented improvements to doughnut-making machines, which previously had to be constantly factory restored before his innovations.

Chace the younger was the only son of three children, including sisters Thelma and Ortha.

Chace attended West Chester High School, then located on the northeast corner of Church and Washington streets, with the Class of 1944. He sang in the school chorus and was the color bearer for the school band.

Chace was a member of First Presbyterian Church on Minor Street and sang in the church choir. He was awarded a 14th-year bar for perfect Sunday school attendance.

Chace left school to join the Army on Dec. 28, 1943. He received training at Camp Blanding, Fla., then Fort Ord, near Monterey, Calif.; Camp Howze, Texas; and Fort Bragg, N.C. He was later assigned to Company F, 387th Infantry Regiment, 100th Division.

The 100th "Century Division" embarked on transport ships at New York harbor in October 1944 for central Europe, arriving at Marseille. The division was trucked nearly 500 miles to the combat area in eastern France. The first elements of his division entered combat on Nov. 1 and attacked the German "Winter Line" in the Vosges Mountains bordering Germany.

Chace's parents received the dreaded telegram on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 1944, that their only son was seriously wounded in combat and had succumbed to his wounds the same day, Nov. 20, 1944. Chace was buried in a military cemetery in France with full military honors. A memorial service was held at First Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Dec. 17, 1944. Flowers of remembrance also were placed in two churches in Kentucky where his uncles were pastors.

In 1948, Chace's remains were returned on the ship SS Carrol Victory with 7,571 of his comrades, including Edward McCormick, also from West Chester, and Austin Johnson of Avon Grove.

A service was held at Hicks Funeral Home on South High Street on Dec. 7, 1948, with full military honors. Interment was at Greenmount Cemetery on Westtown Road.

After Chace's death, his father invented and patented a dripless, never-burn-down candle. It consisted of a candle-like metal housing and a spring-loaded wax insert. The Chace Candle is still manufactured and sold today. The company headquartered in Louisville, Ky., states on its website:

"Chace Candles were invented in 1947 by Chace Gilmore. He patented the design and named the company in honor of his only son, Chace, who died in battle during World War II."

Religious Goods Supplier Expands Product Lines, Re-Brands as Consumer Base Continues to Grow

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

PHOENIX, July 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In 1948, Ignatius and Antoinette DiGiovanni founded Autom, a Catholic goods retail store in Phoenix, Arizona. Now, sixty-two years later the company, re-branded as Christian Brands, has expanded its goods to serve all Christian denominations including retail stores, churches, mass market retailers, distributors and Christian consumers.

"We've come a long way since our parent's small store-front in Phoenix," said Paul DiGiovanni, President. "With several acquisitions and some home grown new catalog titles we feel the name Christian Brands defines us better than any one of our present brands. With this in mind we have decided to change our corporate name to Christian Brands."

Christian Brands is a family owned holding company that distributes church supplies and Christian gifts under an assortment of recognized brands in this country and around the world including: Autom, Living Grace, Gifts of Faith, Milagros, Trinity Logistics, Stratford Chapel and Will & Baumer. In this new age of retailing, Christian Brands prides itself in delivering unrivaled service to its loyal customer base of religious institutions, Christian retailers and secular gift shops.

"We're very proud of our past growth and feel our facility in Lewisburg, TN allows us ample room to continue to grow our business," said Tom DiGiovanni, Vice President of Christian Brands. "We're confident Christian Brands will appeal to and be more recognizable to our valued customers and will help grow our business and our individual brands."

Christian Brand's corporate offices are located in Phoenix, Arizona with a distribution/manufacturing campus in Lewisburg, TN. To learn more about Christian Brands and the great brands it encompasses, check out the following links.

Will & Baumer starts candle production here

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

Jeff Fields, president of the Will & Bauer candle company points to where candle sticks are produced by an extrusion machine.

Resumption of candle-making by Will & Baumer, the historic business that's moved to Lewisburg from Syracuse, N.Y., is a bittersweet transition for a close-knit production team with some working here now and others who couldn't move.

Will & Baumer "is the oldest candle company in America," said Paul DiGiovanni, one of two sons running Autom Church Supply Co. in Phoenix, Ariz., the business built by their father and the company that bought Will & Baumer in January 2008.

"Those of us who came here from a location other than Syracuse can't understand how emotional an experience that is," DiGiovanni said of the end of production in New York State where more than two dozen former employees stayed. Half a dozen moved to work here.

"There's 155 years of history there," DiGiovanni said. "When looking at it financially and historically, the move is great for the brand, but we left some good, hard-working people behind who could not come... people with 20, 30 and 50 years...

"It's a plus for the people of Marshall County," he said. "It wouldn't have been possible except for the people in Syracuse."

Nor would it have been possible without Marshall Ciccone, whose three decades with the company include five years as president when he helped negotiate survival of the company that he now serves as regional sales manager and co-owner.

Will & Baumer candles are made especially for Catholic church services and Ciccone noted that he was explaining these emotion- filled transitions on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent and 46 days before Easter, a Christian holy day that's important for the ebb and flow of Will & Baumer's schedule.

Acknowledging the state of America's economy and that Marshall County's unemployment rates have been approaching those of the Great Depression, Ciccone said, "I came to Will & Baumer much because of conditions like that in 1981."

Interest rates were at 20 percent. America was in the grip of an oil crisis. He'd been in the manufactured building business, but there was no construction.

"I was basically destitute," said Ciccone who responded to a blind help-wanted ad. "Will & Baumer was the job I got... I feel for the people here."

Serving his part in the transition has been "very rewarding," he said, turning to Paul DiGiovanni and his older brother, Tom DiGiovanni, who quietly participated in a conference-room interview a day before the ribbon cutting for Will & Baumer was coordinated by the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce.

"These two gentlemen saw the brand and had the guts to take on a 155-year-old company and move it to Tennessee," Ciccone said. "Buying was one thing, but moving is another."

Paul and Tom DiGiovanni declined to be photographed in the candle factory Wednesday, saying the ceremonial opening and explanation of the plant's operation was a time for Ciccone and his successor, Jeff Fields, the president who described candle making by Will & Baumer.

"The down-side (of the business' situation) would be an empty building in Syracuse," Ciccone said of a series of structures built over 15 decades that could not serve candle production as well as the new facility in Lewisburg.

"I had no doubts when I got here that I did the right thing" by shepherding the sale of Will & Baumer to the DiGiovanni brothers' business, he said.

Ciccone's successor is Jeff Fields who sees the transition of candle production from New York to Tennessee as a seminal development for the company similar to a move by its founder, a carpenter who came to America from Germany.

Anton Will made candles for his own use, but friends asked for candles and he soon realized candles were more profitable for him than carpentry. After his death, his widow merged his business with Frances Baumer's candle company and the private company prospered for more than a century.

Now in Lewisburg, there's an opportunity for growth of the candle company. There's room for an addition to the west, according to the brothers and their company leaders, including Monte Mertens, operations manager for the businesses.

© Copyright 2010 Marshall County Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Church Brands celebrates new candle factory

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

Nearly 200 people celebrated the grand opening and ribbon cutting of Will & Baumer's candle factory in the Lewisburg Business Park on Thursday.

Employees from production line workers to a CEO consultant were thanked after a prayer near machines that squeeze hot beeswax, paraffin and stearine into candles.

The 155-year-old candle company was moved from Syracuse, N.Y., where Paschal candle production was increased to accommodate the move before Easter services such as those celebrated by the brothers who now oversee the company.

"As kids, we flipped through Will & Baumer catalogs," Paul DiGiovanni told associates, city and county officials and members of the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce.

Their father, Ignatius DiGiovanni, started Autom church supply company in 1948 and has sold Will & Baumer candles for nearly 50 years. Now, the brothers have created Christian Brands, an umbrella company that's about 18 months old, to have a structure allowing expansion.

Mayors Barbara Woods and Joe Boyd Liggett attended, as did Eddie Wiles, chairman of the city's Industrial Development Board that's helped the family businesses move here.

Will & Baumer President Jeff Fields spoke of change, challenge, opportunity and his business attitude expressed by his favorite comic who says, "Git 'er done!"

© Copyright 2010 Marshall County Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Gifts of Faith Grows Acquired Line

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

Gifts of Faith is expanding the evangelistic Witness line it took on from Primus Source last year, with 30 new SKUs unveiled at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, held Jan. 12-19.

Among the new items is a line titled "Witness Kids Collection," which brings primary colors to the five symbols created to provoke conversation and provide an opportunity for Christians to talk about their faith.

"The key for the success of the line has been it's a beautiful expression of one's faith," said Brian Schroeder, director of sales for Christian brands, whose divisions include Gifts of Faith. "It appeals to a broad range of consumers because you can speak to others about what the symbolism means, or you can just have cool symbols."

With price points between $1.50 and $23, the expanded line--inspired by the book Witness by Debbi Webb and Mary Owen--is being supported with a new display unit. The line includes jewelry, decals, stones, candles and water bottles.

Witness has been "a success story for us," said Schroeder. "It's a great program, a great product line and a great message. When we took it over, we had a solid customer base, but I think they were starved for new products."

View the entire Witness Collection online at Christian Brands Gift.

Witness "Ascends" to the Top

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Schroeder
Vice President of Sales
(513) 608-3080

Witness is an exclusive collection of Gifts of Faith that is based on 5 symbols and phrases depicting the life of Jesus; He came, He died, He arose, He ascended, & He's coming back.

Christian consumers are drawn to the simplicity of the Witness logo and phrases. It is an accurate and concise description of Jesus' life. The entire Witness collection has been a huge success with more product offerings in the next few months. Keep an eye out for Witness in your local Christian bookstore or gift shop. Visit Christian Brands Gift for a complete listing of the entire Witness collection.