Scentsational Soaps & Candles is a company on fire. The Venice, Florida-based manufacturer reports 40 percent annual sales growth for the past three years. Its products are sold at major big-box retailers and specialty stores, including some of America's largest chains. And that's not bad for a company that started operating out of its founders' garage in 2003.
But the path from Steve and Amy Morrison's garage to international big-box chains had lots of twists and turns. The company's rapid growth caused lots of unexpected challenges — Scentsational had a hard time keeping up with customer demand and finding enough space to both manufacture their goods and ship everything out to customers.
"The company is growing, which is a good thing — but there aren't many days off anymore," Steve Morrison says. "But that's what happens when you own the company. We've been experiencing about 40 percent growth over the past three years and are on track for this year."
Scaling up the company meant more than just hiring new employees and seeking new clients. The soap and candle business is incredibly crowded and competitive, and Morrison found himself in a hard situation: In order to grow the company, he needed to automate much of the manufacturing process and open a much larger facility.
With the company's rapid growth, a large part of their future planning centers around entering new markets.
That's where Synovus came in, with services which Morrison says "offer us the best deals on financing and customer service that is light years ahead of the competition." Synovus has worked with Scentsational for almost two years, and in that time has given the company access to everything from a million dollar line of credit to financing for new corporate headquarters. According to Synovus commercial banker Brent Dykstra, scaling up their company that quickly meant finding a bank which could work hand-in-hand to facilitate that growth.
When Scentsational first partnered with Synovus, Dykstra says, the company was using a factoring company for financing. This was very expensive for Scentsational; changing their approach and receiving financing from Synovus was cheaper and helped them grow faster than they could otherwise.
Morrison and Scentsational turned to Synovus for help financing a new 50,000-square-foot building, and for an equipment loan. Synovus offered the growing business, which now has 45 employees, the resources it needed to keep growing. The big new building serves as a combined office and warehouse facility. It sits on an eight-acre lot that Scentsational also acquired; Morrison says the company plans to add another 30,000 square feet of facilities in the future.
Synovus also helped Scentsational purchase new equipment that allows Morrison to compete with much larger competitors. Financing from the bank helped Synovus purchase two robotic packaging systems, a set of automatic fillers, and a complete production line for room sprays. "This production equipment helps us automate the entire process and compete with cheap labor in China," Morrison says. "The only way I can do that is by automating."
Scentsational's core product line consists of natural soy wax candles with 100-percent cotton, lead-free wicks. The company offers styles with a wide range of fragrances, and is focusing on growing beyond the big-box market to selling candles directly to consumers through a website and social media. As Dykstra notes, the demand for Scensational’s candles is growing rapidly.
"As Scentsational grew, demand for their product increased tenfold thanks to the quality of product, brand, and their brand image," Dykstra says. "That increased their sales with existing suppliers. And as their name and brand got out, their demand increased through suppliers for different retailers across the country. For instance, T.J. Maxx has about 10 buyers across the continental United States. As word gets around through this buyer network that their products are hot and selling, sales increase. That happens for anything — you want to be in the buyer’s network, because your sales increase and your name gets out there."
With the company's rapid growth, a large part of their future planning centers around entering new markets. For Morrison, this means hiring new employees, expanding the company's physical footprint, and expanding their long-term strategy.
"We go through a lot of trial and error," Morrison says. "The important thing is to never get satisfied and never be stagnant. Even if things get easy, never get satisfied. We always raise the bar higher than our expectations, which helps me to not be content or complacent about the good going on."
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