If you’ve ever been curious about Root Candles, one of Medina’s oldest and most important industries, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of a unique opportunity for a factory tour.
For the first time in the company’s 141-year history — as best as anyone can remember, anyway — the factory is being opened for public tours on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost of the tour is $3 per person, with the money benefitting Medina City Schools.
The first 2,000 visitors will receive a free votive candle promoting Medina Schools. The factory is at 623 W. Liberty St., just west of Medina’s historic square.
I actually had the opportunity to tour the factory several years ago as part of an article I was writing for Crain’s Cleveland Business. Brad Root, the fifth-generation Root who is the company’s president, escorted me through the process founded by his great-great-grandfather, Amos Ives Root. (Brad Root is also a graduate of Medina High School — hence the interest in supporting the beleagured school district.)
The story of Root’s fascination with bees is part of Medina folklore. He was a jeweler, working on Medina’s square (where a bakery shop is now located), when he discovered bees outside his window. His curiosity led him to invent modern beekeeping equipment, which is still used today. He also was a self-made journalist, and published the monthly Bee Culture magazine, which was the first publication to record the flight of the Wright brothers. He must have been quite an individual.
Brad is quite possibly the nicest corporate leader I’ve ever met. Humble and gracious, he took me personally through the factory, which exudes a pleasant but strong fragrance that can be a bit overpowering. (At first you wonder how anyone could work there, all day, but it’s apparent that you get used to it.) He showed me how the wicks are braided, then coated in wax, then on to the large area where the wax is formed into candles. He also showed me how they test the candles for the duration of their burn and other factors.
Root Candles has become one of Medina’s biggest corporate citizens, working quietly behind the scenes in its understated way. Getting to know the company better solidified my pledge to only buy Root Candles — forget the cheap imports. Besides, the company store is just a pleasure to browse, and the adjacent factory outlet always has great deals. (Sometimes they’ll have candles whose scent doesn’t quite match the color — evergreen scented candles that are white, for example — but they work just as well at transforming the smells of five children and two pets!)
Even though I’ve been there before, I plan to go again. I just hope the line isn’t ridiculously long to get in. I recommend allowing lots of time!