Boomers & Beyond: Philanthropists of the Year
The final part of the "Night For Heroes" series
Dixie has visited with two of the three award winners from St. Mary's "A Night For Heroes". Finally, this week, she visits with the recipients of the St. Mary's Hospital Foundation Philanthropists of the Year award.
Doug and Jamee Simons are almost as well known for their community support as they are for their world famous Enstrom Toffee! Volunteer and financial support and fund raising efforts for St. Mary’s Hospital and many other organizations culminated in this special award. And like others, they were hesitant to accept such an honor for doing what they feel is important.
"We do what we do for our community because we love our community," said Jamee Simons, who owns Enstrom Candies Inc. with her husband Doug Simons. "We don’t do it for recognition; so, I think our first reaction was, ‘ah, maybe not’.”
“We thought maybe we would turn it down," Doug admitted, "but at the end of the day it was very humbling and very rewarding.”
Generations of valley shoppers have savored that toffee and other Enstrom candies.
"My Grandfather Chet started the business, actually," said Jamee. "In 1928, he started business in Grand Junction as an ice cream manufacturer. Candy was his hobby. 1960, he converted his ice cream factory to a candy factory and Enstrom Candies was born.”
Furthering their education brought romance and for Doug, an introduction to the candy business.
“I came over here to go to Mesa College in 1973 and Jamee and I actually met in the concert band. She was playing the bassoon in her nurse’s uniform and I was playing percussion in the percussion section and we were making googly eyes at each other across the room and one thing led to another and we started dating," said Doug. "During that period, I was looking for some part time work, so I came down here and worked for her dad and cleaned up some awful messes for him and did the grunt work in the early days.”
“I think dad gave him the worst jobs he could possibly give him, to test him," added Jamee.
“I think he might have been trying to scare me off!" Doug said as they both laughed.
In 1993 they became the owners and yes, they still use Chet’s famous recipe.
“Almond Toffee, that was my grandfather’s special candy that he made," Jamee said.
“As it was known in the early days, ‘World Famous Almond Toffee By Chet’," Doug added.
“’By Chet’ was on the box,” Jamee continued.
Oh, how the once small business has grown and changed with technology!
“It was obvious to us that there was a lot of business trying to get to us that we weren’t handling. So, we, in fact, did begin to computerize the business. This was before personal computers," Doug explained.
Oh yes, Doug and Jamee believe in giving back to the community and beyond.
“We’ve always prided ourselves in our ability to export product from this community and import dollars which we have found a responsibility to share," said Doug.
The future for them? And will their two sons be the next generation of toffee experts?
“Both our boys are involved now as the fourth generation and we really look forward to watching them grow and blossom in the business, but Jamee and I are far from done. We’re only in our late fifties at this point and I like to say we’re not done screwing it up yet. We’re blessed with a good business and a great community and we hope that we can live up to the standards that everybody’s holding us to at this point because it’s important to us to be a part of a great community.”
Thanks to Jamee and Doug Simons as they continue to build on grandad’s candy family candy business, for sharing their success with our community over and over again. Now, how sweet is that?
Here's a link to the Enstrom Candies website: http://www.enstrom.com/
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