Kimmie Candy Co.
With a degree in agronomy from the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Joe Dutra began his career as a farmer in Sacramento. He eventually became a senior agronomist for one of the largest wheat farming operations in the world outside of the United States, spending 20-plus years in the international agricultural seed export business.
Although successful, Dutra wanted to start a business that could become a legacy for his children as well as a means of generating goodwill and happiness. After much research Dutra founded Kimmie Candy Co. in 2000, headquartering the company in Sacramento while basing manufacturing in South Korea.
After the tragic events of 9/11, Dutra decided he wanted to move the company back to the United States, locating in northern Nevada to take advantage of the state’s business-friendly climate.
Today, Kimmie Candy is a branded confectionery manufacturer producing branded and bulk panned, gluten-free, and peanut-free candy lines. It has evolved into a national confectionery brand, selling all through the United States and Canada with distribution in Philippines, Mexico and Central America.
With an annual growth rate ranging between 20 to 30 percent, the company has grown from 7 to 30 employees, which also including Dutra’s two children, John and Kathryn. The company prides itself on its distinctive taste, using a specially blended chocolate in all its products as well as paying special attention to colors and crisp candy shells.
Kimmie Candy has made a niche for itself in the candy industry with its flagship Sunbursts chocolate-covered sun flower seed candy as well as ChocoRocks, which won the prestigious 2003 Product of the Year award at the annual Candy Grammy Awards held in Long Beach, Calif.
Kimmie Candy continues to grow and is opening an additional facility in the Double Diamond area of Reno next month. The new facility will specialize in certified organic candy, a great complement to the original facility producing gluten-free and peanut-free candy (providing an increasingly popular alternative for sweet tooths with allergies).
The company expects to increase production from 200,000 lbs. to 400,000 lbs. a month and the ultimate goal is to get to volume up to 1 million lbs. a month.
Dutra is also the owner and president of Westec Inc., which is a major exporter of hybrid corn, alfalfa and forage seeds into Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. He is also a member of the CNBC Small Business Council and a regular guest on Fox Business News with Neil Cavuto, CNBC's Squawk Box and Street Signs.