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Arway Confections saves Long Grove Confectionery days before closing

Long Grove Confectionery employee Jane Rumel makes fondue trefor customer during 2011 Long Grove Chocolate Fest. | Photos by Buzz

Long Grove Confectionery employee Jane Rumel makes a fondue treat for a customer during the 2011 Long Grove Chocolate Fest. | Photos by Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 20, 2013 6:38AM

The Long Grove Confectionery Co. was days from closing when founders John and Heidi Mangel negotiated its sale last week to Arway Confections Inc. of Chicago.

Craig Leva, Arway’s owner and president, said Tuesday he will retain the nearly 100 employees and keep the retail store open. He had not yet visited the site but expected to spend the weekend there, taking part in the community’s Strawberry Festival.

“I’m excited to get out there and shake hands with new people,” Leva said.

John Mangel had owned four of Long Grove’s most popular stores — the candy company, the Apple Haus, the Pine Cone Christmas Shop and Farmside Country Store — but closed the other three in recent years. The 75-year-old, who plans to retire, said he knew the closures hurt the local economy, but the slow economy forced his decision.

“I’ve got my whole life and soul in that town,” he said. “It makes me sick to see what’s happened out there. But the younger generation doesn’t have the same tastes.”

The key to the deal, Mangel and Leva said, was Long Grove’s 25-year-old, 85,000-square-foot factory at 333 Lexington Dr.

Leva said retail is about 10 percent of Long Grove’s business, and Mangel added that in the past 15 years, his business had become popular as a wholesale manufacturer for Lands’ End, Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel and others, much of it tied to the holidays.

Leva said storage and compatible machinery in Buffalo Grove were what his 75,000-square-foot facility needed. “We are a behind-the-scenes supplier to companies like Long Grove, and we are basically out of space. We loved their manufacturing facility, which was underutilized for them.”

“They have the bulk business; we have the specialty business,” Mangel added. “The two businesses together have lots of savings, not only in labor, but in the materials they buy.”

Leva said the retail store in downtown Long Grove will be open at least through the end of its lease in 2014.

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