The Candy Man
By Greg Schaber
Easter comes early in the candy business. So on Sept. 11, 2001, Patrick Zachary, executive vice-president of Zachary Confections, already was looking forward to the following spring. And like many Americans, as the horror of the terrorist attacks unfolded, the stunned Zachary felt the urge to do something positive for the families of the victims. So the 1994 graduate decided to use some resources from his family-owned company to do just that.
The plan he hatched was built on crates of marshmallow Easter eggs, and one of the results is the Zachary Confections Memorial Scholarship, an endowed scholarship aimed first and foremost at young people directly or indirectly affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
To understand how Zachary was able to put all this together, you have to understand something about Zachary Confections. The general-line candy company produces 35 million pounds of candy each year—everything from old-fashioned candy corn and Mello-crème pumpkins to chocolate hearts and Cupids, cherry cordials, marshmallow Santas, chocolate-covered raisins and peanuts, and everything in between. With national distribution, the products from the company’s 250,000 square-foot Frankfort, Ind., factory find their way to the shelves of merchandising giants like Wal-Mart, Meijer, Kerr Drug, Ace Hardware and Walgreens.
“This isn’t your mother’s candy kitchen,” Zachary says.
One of the firm’s most popular items is an egg crate decorated with Easter graphics and packed with marshmallow eggs.
“Each year we sell millions of boxes of egg crates in just a couple months,” Zachary says. “So we decided that we were going to donate some of the proceeds to helping the families of victims.”
But the company principals wanted to be respectful. They wanted to avoid the barest suggestion of selling their product on the coattails of tragedy. So without a word to their clients, they quietly placed an insert in each egg crate, thanking those who bought the candy and informing them that a portion of the proceeds would go toward helping the families.
“We came up with $100,000,” Zachary says. “Half of that money went to the Twin Towers Orphans Fund. We had another $50,000 that we were wondering what to do with.”
At this point Zachary decided to visit an old friend—University Chancellor James E. Hoff, S.J., who presided over Zachary’s 1997 wedding to 1995 graduate Kathleen Suehr.
“I told him we had this money set aside and—knowing that we have a pretty good alumni base on the East Coast in New York and New Jersey—I said, ‘Is this something that we could do at Xavier?’ ” Zachary says. “He said, ‘Yeah, I think that would be great.’ ”
With Hoff’s support, Zachary took his case to Jim Jackson, the University’s director for development. Realizing that they wanted the scholarship to continue in perpetuity—and that at some point even the youngest children who lost parents in the attacks would grow beyond college age—the pair decided to omit any direct reference to Sept. 11 from the fund’s name. They also agreed that while those affected by the tragedy will get first preference, in the absence of such candidates the scholarship will be awarded on the basis of need.
Jackson says the scholarship, which was implemented this past summer, will be marketed through alumni chapters in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as through recruiting materials and other admission efforts.
Zachary says it’s important for his company to give something back to American families. “And personally, it’s important to me to do something to help someone in need attend a university that not only helped me in my business career, but helped shape my life through the Jesuit experience,” he says.