Mavericks got a sweet deal by getting hands-on experience in the confectionary world on Thursday.
Former Maverick alumna Christine Lantinen came to Minnesota State to speak to students about her ownership of Maud Borup as part of the Richard Schmitz Food Entrepreneurship Series.
Starting in 1907 out of her St. Paul home, Maud Borup created small batches of candy to sell. Now Maud Borup produces chocolate in LeCenter, cotton candy in Plymouth and oversized gummies in Delafield, WI.
Applied Entrepreneurial Practices grad assistant Gary Lesley wanted to bring Lantinen with her connection to MSU.
“I think the university really appreciates her story and she’s been a big supporter in the school. She’s also been participating in this class and making it possible for students to develop products with her company,” Lesley said.
Lesley said the food entrepreneurship series allows impacts both MSU and the College of Business by bringing an innovative, entrepreneurial approach to the food business.
‘We’re trying to inject incorporating innovative entrepreneurship with new ways to teach about nutrition, health and opportunities in agriculture,” Lesley said. “It opens up all kinds of opportunities for people that are going to go into that niche.”
As a part of the Great Candy Challenge, students were tasked to create a candy charcuterie board around the theme of Valentine’s Day. They had to choose what items were included, create the packaging and price their product.
Junior Jenna Mortier was part of a team that created a breakfast-in-bed board. Their board had chocolate eggs, bacon and toast alongside a working frosting pen. Mortier said going up to the Plymouth facility to make the chocolate from scratch helped her gain hands-on experience.
“Coming out of college with just a degree, you don’t have a lot of experience. (The Great Candy Challenge) gives you something to put on your resume and say ‘I’ve worked with this company’ which was just a great experience,” Mortier said.
Senior Hailey Holmes was a part of the winning group that crafted a board around Galentine’s Day with strawberry and rose-themed treats.
“We have chocolate dip pretzels, hot cocoa bombs and chocolate drizzle popcorn. We brought in some gummies and sour gummy belts to bring in a little variety,” Holmes said.
Holmes said she enjoyed working with Maud Borup and the skills she learned.
“It taught us a lot about how to communicate and be attentive business owners. It was awesome to get to work with such a big company,” Holmes said.
Lantinen graduated from MSU in 1998 with a double major in public relations and marketing. She said her time at MSU prepared her for Maud Borup with all of the responsibilities she juggled.
“I worked full time while going to school full time and I was also doing military training. I think the combination of all of those things gave me just a good grounding to move into the workforce,” Lantinen said.
Lantinen bought Maud Borup in 2005 for $100,000. Now, it’s a $50 million company.
With candies such as hot cocoa bombs and oversized gummies becoming popular over the last few years, Lantinen said she checks social media to see what the trends are to stay on top of them.
“There’s so much opportunity tapping into social media to market your brand and use it as a platform, especially with candy and young people,” Lantinen said.
Not only is Maud Borup women-owned and operated, but it’s one of only 5,000 certified B corporations. B corporations meet standards in performance while prioritizing worker benefits.
One of those standards is using sustainable practices.
“One of the biggest things we do is recycle and pack anything that would be considered trash. We have a large container on-site that compacts it and it gets used to heat homes,” Lantinen said.
Lantinen said Maud Borup’s future goals consist of reaching $100 million in a year and incorporating more sustainable practices.
“We’re looking at adding solar panels right now and looking at what more can we do at our other facilities. We’re spending this year getting our feet wet on soft candy manufacturing because we’re trying to build a facility,” Lantinen said.
Lantinen’s advice for young entrepreneurs is to work hard to get the most out of life.
“Every job you have is a stepping stone to where you want to be, so set high aspirations for yourself and surround yourself with people that you want to be like,” Lantinen said.
While they don’t sell products on the website, Maud Borup candies can be found at major retailers such as Target, Walmart and Hy-Vee.
Header photo: Randy Lantinen (left), Christine Lantinen and dean Brenda Flannery sat down to talk about the success of Maud Borup and advise business students. (Emma Johnson/The Reporter)
Write to Emma Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org