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September 16, 2014

Haven's Candies gets new owner, CEO

Contributed / David Pride Haven's Candies announced the company's sale and change of leadership on its Facebook page with a photo of now-former owner Andy Charles and current owner Erin Collins.

Haven’s Candies, a Westbrook-based chocolate maker, has been sold to a Freeport businesswoman, making her the company’s seventh owner since it was founded in 1915.

The company announced Tuesday that Erin Collins purchased Haven’s from CEO and President Andy Charles and has taken over his position starting this week. Financial details of the deal are not being disclosed, Charles and Collins told Mainebiz on a conference call.

Collins, who has become the first woman to serve as the company’s CEO and president, said Haven’s will retain its 28 employees, maintain their current level of pay and improve some aspects of their benefit packages as a result of the transition.

Collins said she decided to buy Haven’s after wanting to buy and run her own business, following the tradition of her family members who have been small business owners in the Ellsworth, Trenton and Bar Harbor area. She most recently worked as vice president of client service for Portland-based HeadInvest, which provides investment advice to individual investors, nonprofit organizations and other institutional clients.

“I wanted a company that had been around for a long time, had a good legacy and had an owner I looked up to,”Collins said. “I met Andy and did several tours of the factory [over the course of four months] and everything felt good and right.”

Charles said he will stay on for several months to assist with the company’s transition. After purchasing Haven’s in 2001, he helped the company grow to three locations, including Portland and Scarborough, and led it to several years of profitability.

He said that selling the company and saying goodbye to its employees, customers and vendors is bittersweet, but the deal happened at the right time. He said he doesn't know what the immediate future looks like for him, but he’s looking forward to some travel and a “new adventure that hasn't unveiled itself.”

“I thought it would be better to leave before I stayed on for too long,” Charles said. “In light of being on the cusp of our 100-year anniversary, it felt appropriate to pass the reigns on.”

According to a 2011 profile in the Portland Press Herald, the company has generated profits every year since 2001 except 2008, with around $2 million in annual revenue.

Charles said the financial picture has continued to improve since 2011, and he expects that to continue under Collins’ leadership. He said the revenue figure is “well north” of what was previously reported, though he did not specify by how much.

“Just this morning we've already gotten several inquiries from customers about holiday gift packages,” said Charles, which, to him, helps indicate that Haven’s will continue to prosper.

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