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Necco to Close Massachusetts Avenue Factory, Move Operations to Revere

By Sandra M. Chung

ASSOCIATE ARTS EDITOR

The New England Confectionery Company is moving out of its historic facility near Random Hall. The new, larger Necco headquarters, located on American Legion Highway about a mile from Wonderland, is currently being renovated and outfitted with up-to-date candymaking and assembly line equipment.

Marketing manager Lori Zembalati cites two reasons for the move to the Revere area. The lease on the company’s East Cambridge Haviland facility expires soon, necessitating a relocation of that branch of Necco.

Also, the equipment at the facility, which dates back to 1927, has become dated, Zembalati said. The Revere facility is both more spacious and easier to outfit with new equipment.

David Cordeiro, a production assistant at the Massachusetts Avenue facility, said producing candy in Cambridge has become too expensive. “It’s time for a change, a new place,” Cordeiro said.

Necco has been looking to consolidate its Cambridge operations for the last two years.

Factory to become tech center

According to Zembalati, the Massachusetts Avenue factory still lacks a firm buyer. Zembalati said the factory’s purchaser would likely be a high-tech or biotechnology firm. Two other Necco factories in Wisconsin and Louisiana will remain unaffected.

According to Zembalati, the Massachusetts Avenue facility “is considered a historic landmark” and “is going to keep its character.” Cordeiro says the exterior of the building and the wooden sign will remain intact, but the interior will be modernized. The renovated candy factory will be known as the Necco Technology Center, with a character similar to that of the technology firms in Kendall Square.

The final move to Revere is scheduled for May 2003.

Cordeiro says the factory might lose a number of the workers who already have a long commute to the Massachusetts Avenue factory and are unwilling to commute an even longer distance to the Revere facility.

Necco has a place in history

The Necco company is famous for manufacturing several different kinds of distinct candies, including malted milk balls, candy buttons, Mary Janes®, Sweethearts , Clark® Bars, Haviland® Thin Mints, and the self-titled wafers that lend their familiar aroma to the area around the factory.

Necco traces its history to 1847, when Oliver Chase founded the Boston-based Chase and Company. In 1901 the New England Confectionery Company was formed by the union of three candymaking firms: Chase and Company; Fobes, Hayward and Company; and Wright and Moody. The wafers were created and named for the new company’s title.

In 1990 the Necco corporation acquired Stark Candy Company, the Boston-based makers of Sweethearts Conversation Hearts and the Mary Jane® brand of molasses and peanut butter candy. Necco also took over the Falcon Candy Company and Borden Candy Products, which it renamed Haviland Candy, Inc.

In 1996, the Massachusetts Avenue factory unveiled its highly recognizable water tower, which resembles a roll of Necco wafers. The tower, which commemorates the company’s 150th anniversary, will remain part of the Cambridge skyline after Necco moves.