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Bangor Daily News Profiles Bixby & Co.’s Kate McAleer

PORTLAND, Maine — One year after moving Bixby & Co. into its own digs near Rockland’s waterfront, Kate McAleer is preparing to take her gourmet candy bar company national.

The 27-year-old plans for Bixby bars to be in 1,000 retail locations by the end of the year, with a staff of eight employees — four are part-time — and 3,000 square feet of space in a former O’Hara Corp. ice plant.

Looking back on 12 months of transition and growth, “2014, in general, was a crazy year,” said McAleer, a New York native.

The company moved out of its space at Coastal Farms and Foods in Belfast, before the manufacturing facility to jump-start small food production businesses folded in April 2014.

The year for Bixby involved improvements to more than double the company’s efficiency, using a $30,000 startup award from Gorham Savings Bank and a loan through Whole Foods’ local producer program to triple efficiency, between systems for melting and pumping chocolate and wrapping candy bars.

“We’d previously been hand-wrapping bars,” McAleer said.

McAleer said those improvements in efficiency mean Bixby won’t need to expand beyond its current employment levels or 3,000-square-foot space in 2015 to meet its growing distributor demand.

She declined to disclose the financial results of that growth, but she said each equipment investment more than doubled efficiency with design help from the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Gorham Savings, Whole Foods and the Maine Manufacturing Partnership are just a few of the entities that came up in a recent interview after McAleer’s acceptance of the Maine Small Business Association’s award as the state’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Last year, she also graduated from the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s Top Gun program, secured a $25,000 seed grant from the Maine Technology Institute and was accepted to another business development program supported by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

The entities involved in Bixby’s success in reinventing candy bars for the natural foods market read like a laundry list of economic development and entrepreneurial training programs in the state.

And to that extent, McAleer said she thinks Maine is a prime place for a young entrepreneur to set down roots.

“I think there’s so many resources and tools to attract businesses that it might just be about awareness,” McAleer said. “Networking has been critical to my success and finding all of the resources and utilizing them was key.”

From her perspective, McAleer said there’s a need for awareness, too. That is, looking beyond tech for young entrepreneurs.

“Everyone wants the next Facebook and Twitter, and I think that tendency can really steer away from the potential to growth for other small businesses,” McAleer said.

McAleer said she hopes her company, driven by changing consumer tastes and greater interest in natural ingredients, can play a role in changing that perspective. And she’s taken the accolades this year as a sign that awareness is taking hold.

Link to article.


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Kate McAleer, Bixby & Co. Founder, Named 2015 Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year

SBA Announces Annual Award Winner 

Bixby & Co. LLC Owner Named Young Entrepreneur of the Year 

Augusta, Maine – Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the winner of its annual Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2015. Kate McAleer of Bixby & Co. LLC has been selected for this prestigious honor.

“It is always wonderful to see the creativity and determination that young entrepreneurs like Kate bring to their businesses,” said Marilyn Geroux, SBA District Director for Maine. “It is a particular pleasure to select a business that has decided to relocate to Maine, as Bixby has done” added Geroux. Continue reading Kate McAleer, Bixby & Co. Founder, Named 2015 Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year

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Maine Magazine Feature: “Maine Kind of Candy”

We are thrilled to be featured in the March 2015 Food Issue of Maine Magazine: “Maine Kind of Candy: Bixby & Co. Chocolate and its Clever Creator Kate McAleer” Continue reading Maine Magazine Feature: “Maine Kind of Candy”

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Bixby & Co. Founder Kate Named Maine’s Next 2014 by MaineBiz!

Kate McAleer was named one of Maine’s “Next” for 2014 by MaineBiz.  This recognition is conducted annually by MaineBiz a publication for the business community of Maine.   The MaineBiz acknowledgement for the “Next” generation of emerging business leaders who have the potential to make a positive impact on Maine’s economy.

MaineBiz Article