You might already know that The Martinsville Candy Kitchen is celebrating 100 years in business this year. There will be a big community celebration on April 6, 2019 with kids’ activities from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and an Open House at the shop at 7 p.m. True to form being an historic tradition in Martinsville, there are plans to have former owners there and lots of surprises.
You might also already know the history of the shop. Greek immigrant, Jimmy Zapapas opened the business in April 1919. He produced candy canes and other sweet treats. His original recipes as well as his original equipment and tools have been passed down from owner to owner through the years. The store has actually moved several times along the street on the square. Hundreds of families both local and from far away have made candy from The Martinsville Candy Kitchen, especially candy canes, a tradition stretching across generations.
What you might not know is that the Candy Kitchen came perilously close to closing its doors after 85 years. It was Martinsville residents John and Pam Badger that rescued the shop fifteen years ago.
Why is it that so many businesses get their start in garages? William Shields saw a need in the world of plastics. He met that need in the garage of the home he shared with Jacki Shields and their children in Martinsville. He developed a one-piece fairing for a Yamaha motorcycle in 1975, and the rest, as they say, is history. That one product catapulted a new company into eventually creating windshields and windows for heavy equipment, race cars, and even face shields for helmets.
Brad Shields says he grew up in the plastic world. By the age of nine he was working the trade show circuit with his parents. Even though Brad had a career as a teacher and football coach he continued to help his father sell products until he made the move to join the business full-time in 1999. Brad’s wife, Karen and his two children, Beau and Alyxa, moved with him back to his hometown of Martinsville.
“The transition was more in working with my father than working with the plastics,” Brad said. “My ten years as a head coach had given me invaluable leadership experience.” Although William chided Brad for running things like a football program he began to let Brad take the reins of the company. “You have to go with what you know,” Brad said, “and what works. I became a delegator and trust my people to do their jobs.”
Brad’s mother, Jacki, worked in the business as well. “She did HR, finance, payroll, accounts receivable, account payable,” Karen said, “basically anything to do with money or personnel.” Karen has since stepped into Jacki’s role for the company.
Jen Sadler noticed she was only one of a few women in the mass of 400 students in the lecture halls at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington. But it did not intimidate her. Because, she said, “I was there on a mission to get my business degree.”
She began college in the late 1960s, pursuing a degree in psychology, although business was what she had on her heart. “I didn’t know it was OK or acceptable at that time,” Sadler said explaining why she was taking psychology classes instead of business classes at first. She switched majors and nothing else mattered. Women were stepping into new roles and she was right there on the front lines and credentials were important.
After graduating, Sadler went to work for Mayor Richard Lugar and then went on to work at the Indiana Department of Commerce. While she was there, she met Stan Sadler, who was working in commercial real estate sales downtown. He encouraged her to take classes to become a Realtor™. Again, credentials and a deep knowledge of the field were important to her, so she took all the classes and exams necessary to not only be a licensed real estate agent, but a licensed broker as well.
It was 20 years ago, in November 1998, that Michael Miller came to live in Mooresville. He had graduated from the Indiana University School of Optometry in 1991. After several years with the Indiana Eye Clinic in Greenwood, he had decided he wanted a private practice of his own. He began the search for an optometrist who was ready to retire or sell his practice. He learned about Dr. Bill Kirby in Mooresville. Dr. Kirby had about four decades serving the Mooresville community.
Looking at the beginning
Miller grew up in a small town in northern Indiana called Plymouth. His mother had developed early onset macular degeneration and had been legally blind since the age of 28. He understood the challenges visually impaired persons faced on a daily basis. Driving, in particular, was an issue. She needed special permits and could only drive under certain restrictions. Living out in the country made it a more of a hardship. When Miller and his sister earned their driver’s licenses, it was easier for the family.
The personal understanding of the importance of eyesight, along with his interest in science and mathematics, led him to the medical field, particularly relating to the study of sight and sight correction. He was not interested in medical school or actually performing surgery on eyes. With that in mind, and because all of his family, including himself, wore glasses or contacts, his thoughts turned to optometry. “We developed a really good relationship with the family eye doctor,” Miller said. “He was very encouraging and supportive of me going into optometry.”
Although Jeff Faull was following four generations of preachers when he graduated from high school at 17, he found himself as an apprentice meat cutter on his way to a life as a butcher. He still felt the call for theological training, which led him to Cincinnati Christian University. His intentions were to complete a semester and then go back home to Indiana and the apprenticeship.
It wasn’t his pastoral calling that held him back. “I struggled with stage fright,” Faull said. “I had an unwillingness to be in front of people.” Being in front of people is one of the essential skills needed by a preacher and Faull knew it from watching his father and grandfather.
Part of the course of study at the Bible school was being part of teams sent out to other churches in the region. “A leader (at the Bible school) took me under his wing and instilled some self-confidence in me,” Faull said. “I was coerced into giving the message at a country church in Kentucky. The moment I stepped down from that platform, I knew what I was going to do with my life.”
Talk with Larry Elsner about business or life and he is quick to say that he does not really make plans. In the next breath he is saying he is a workaholic who must always be doing something, and he says his wife Donell would confirm that. Take a walk around the lovely grounds on the outskirts of Martinsville that are home to Cedar Creek Winery, Cedar Creek Brew Co. and Cedar Creek Distillery and you will see the results of a family doing something.
Larry’s son, Bryce, quickly qualifies his father’s statement about always staying busy. “He does everything to the best of his capabilities,” Bryce said.
Larry, son Bryce, and daughter Alyssa Sims work together to operate the special attraction referred to as Drink at the Creek, with each one owning their own business that contributes to the whole.