Alfonso Porras: Hitting the sweet spot
Alfonso Porras didn’t know that when his sister went to live with Walter Zittle and his family in New Jersey nearly 30 years ago, it would pave the way to his professional future. From such kindness of one family came the dream for another.
Zittle and his wife became friends of Alfonso and his wife, Alejandra, visiting them in Mexico City and sharing a book Zittle had on the art of candy making.
“I found it fascinating,” Porras says. “It gave us an idea of how to make candy from home.” And it inspired the Porrases to master the skill. Armed with the knowledge they’d gained from Zittle, and their desire to share their candy recipes with others, the Porrases ventured into their own business, naming their company in honor of their friend.
That led to the creation, in 1997, of Sir Walter Candy Company, based originally in Monrovia, California. The couple began developing products and corporate gifts that were both unique and delicious. Ten years ago, they moved to a larger facility in Utah, where they operate today from a location that includes a retail store in South Salt Lake.
“When we started in California, we built a little trailer and ran our business at night when I came home from my day job,” Porras says. “The first products we made were kettle corn, which I loved as a kid, and an original cornflake/chocolate candy. It was the first of many original items we’ve created over the years. We started selling at local farmers’ markets. As customers tasted our candies and saw how original and different they were, the business grew from there.”
They also made truffles and candies with sweet toasted pecans and almonds. Their products were very different from anything else competitors were manufacturing. As more and more customers discovered Sir Walter Candy, they began making requests for other things. They opened their first store in 2001, and as their business grew, along with their children, it became a true family affair.
“Our kids grew up in the business of making candy and chocolates,” Porras says. “Three of our children live here and work here in Utah, and a daughter lives and works in Los Angeles, helping with marketing.”
Alfonso and Alejandra started to see the need for a larger manufacturing facility and discovered a space that was available in Utah. Their move here in 2007 helped the company prosper even more—lower rent, a great supply chain and a strong employee base to draw from. During the peak season (such as the holidays), the company has up to 30 full-time employees.
“We work with a lot of creative people, managing our skills and ideas and making unique products for corporate customers,” he says. “Our niche is to make products that others can’t, either because the jobs are too large for artisans or too small for major manufacturers. We’re really more of a specialty confection company than a candy company.”
And customers have noticed. Sir Walter Candy Company now ships to customers in all 50 states. Its storefront location at 155 W. Malvern Ave. in South Salt Lake offers customers an insight into the wide variety of products it makes. So does the company website (sirwaltercandy.com).
“We envisioned this company as being something very unique, making candy the way people use to make it at home,” Porras says.
Success has been sweet indeed.