A typically American success story came to a crossroads last week when it was announced that a global consumer goods company had agreed to pay $75 million for Chesapeake Bay Candle. The story began in the basement of an Annapolis home in 1994 when Chinese immigrants — one of them Mei Xu, who came to the United States at age 23 to study journalism at the University of Maryland — started making candles in empty cans.
Today the maker of candles and fragrances has annual net sales of approximately $55 million. Xu and co-founder David Wang, like many others, originally had their manufacturing done abroad — in China — to cut costs. But then they brought the manufacturing home, opening a 125,000-square-foot factory, warehouse and distribution center in Glen Burnie in 2011. The facility employs 100 people.
From empty cans to a brand valued at $75 million in 23 years — by any standard that’s an extraordinary tale of economic value and employment opportunities created from next to nothing. But it’s also an example of patterns with which economists are familiar.
Read the full story from the Capital Gazette: “Our say: Better to found a candle company than curse the economy”