The business "section" of my local small-town newspaper has a regular feature that updates the status of previously featured local companies. Those featured companies, by the way, have convinced me that there’s a market for anything. Organic dog biscuits, realistic eyeball covers for the deceased… you name it.
And now, just in time for Halloween, vampire fangs.
A local (Grover Beach) company is doing over a million bucks a year making costume fangs. And here my partners and I struggled for a couple years earlier this decade building a specialty contract manufacturing company focusing on high-end robotics. Oh well.
Linda Camplese and her husband, Arthur Goldiner, own Scarecrow Inc., a million-dollar business that manufactures vampire fangs for the costume industry. The pair launched the business in Grover Beach in the early 1990s after Camplese discovered there were no quality costume fangs on the market. She started making the fangs for extra money, but demand for the fangs took off and she began manufacturing them by the thousands. Last year, she sold more than 200,000 pairs.
But there’s more to this particular story. When the company was first profiled last year, Camplese was dealing with the problems of growth. She had a vision for her company, and it did not include concepts that most traditional manufacturers would embrace as a side effect of growth.
Camplese was in the process of selling the special effects side of the business because it was becoming too costly to operate, and she did not want to have to outsource the business overseas.
And so she did. She found the right company to acquire that side of the business, and then she focused on what she loved.
Camplese is enjoying focusing solely on the fang production of her business. “It’s completely changed the way we do business,” she said. “I’m learning how to do things on a smaller scale.” The Chicago-based company she sold the special effects operation to has kept its production stateside, which Camplese was happy about. She continues to have two full-time employees and about 10 seasonal workers. 2005 and 2006 revenues remained above $1 million.
A million bucks of fangs being made in the middle of vineyards and avocado orchards on the central coast of California. By a company that prefers the beauty of staying small. Who’d have thunk it?