Nearly 80 years ago, the original candy man known as “Mr. Goodart” moved from rural Anton, Texas, to Lubbock. After selling his precious pink candies in his local store, Goodart sought out bigger ways to share his candy and increase his sales throughout more of West Texas, which inspired his move to Lubbock. Goodart left the comfort of his small hometown in 1939 to open Goodart Candy Company in the Hub City, which had a population of 31,000 at that time.
Made with only three simple ingredients, the sweet and salty 3-inch candies are favorites of transplanted Texans, old-timers, children and sweet-toothed enthusiast. Today, Goodart Candy produces peanut products that are sold coast to coast, and it is the largest manufacturer of peanut patties in the United States.
“Our peanut brittle is popular but our peanut patties are our bread and butter,” said Ron Harbuck, vice president of Goodart Candy and Tyler, Texas native.
In a single day, Goodart Candy can produce as many as 20,000 peanut patties and use up to 1,500 pounds of peanuts. According to Harbuck, the art of peanut candy production cannot be automated, therefore each patty produced is dipped by hand.
Goodart Candy uses Spanish peanuts in their candy products because they have the most oil, are the healthiest peanut type, and have the best flavor of all the peanuts on the market, Harbuck said.
The New Candy Man
For the last 27 years, Harbuck has been running Goodart Candy since purchasing a part in the company in 1991, following the retirement of Goodart. Surrounded by the sweet aroma of cooking sugar and the hardy peanut, Harbuck shared the sticky business and his personal history of the Lubbock candy operation.
“Good working relationships with suppliers, distributors and customers is all you can really ask and work toward,” he said.
Prior to his introduction into the world of candy, Harbuck spent two years as a company clerk in the U.S. Army, while he was stationed in Germany and then worked as a landman in the oil industry until he found a sweeter substance to work with.
Harbuck said his mother was the bookkeeper for Tyler Candy Company, and she influenced him to take the first steps into the sugary life of the candy business. The owner of Tyler Candy, Anthony George, was looking for help with the day-to-day management operations as he neared retirement, and in 1986, Harbuck stepped up to learn the tricks of the candy trade.
After learning from George about the artistry that goes into the candy-making process and valuable business skills, Harbuck moved to West Texas and began his reign as the new South Plains candy man.
From cooking to cleaning, Harbuck humbly does it all. He trains every employee that comes through the doors of the east Lubbock candy factory and processes every order that goes out of the office.
“I’m partner, vice president and head bottle washer,” Harbuck said.
The Candy Man Can
Goodart peanut candies can be found at local grocery stores, chain convenient stops and big-name retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Sam’s Club.
Matt Williams, a proud supper of Goodart Candy and their GoTexan label, was the former Goodart Candy contact with the Texas Department of Agriculture. Under the direction ofHarbuck, with the help of Williams, Goodart Candy became a GoTexan member in 1999 and now serves as one of the state’s founding members.
Harbuck’s name goes outside of the candy industry and has a fair and honest business reputation throughout the state. Goodart Candy is known as a company that keeps the “Golden Rule,” Williams said.
“Ron is one of those people who makes sure things are taken care of and done right,” Williams said.
Like many others, Williams said he first imagined Goodart Candy to be a large, distant company because their products are so widely distributed and so well known but quickly realized they are a modest and local company. The workforce behind the peanut candies includes 10 hard working employees who take pride in creating a quality peanut product.
“My fondest memories at TDA,” Williams said, “come from working with small businesses like Goodart.”
Williams said Harbuck’s old-school work ethic, good business skills, and favorable customer service are just a small part of why Goodart has become successful in its nearly 80 years of making candy.
That’s been my philosophy all these years, you just try to help everyone out.
It’s All About the Business
During his time with Tyler Candy, Harbuck got to know other candy factories and distributors and said he had great working relationships them.
During his early years of business, Harbuck nearly had to shut the doors at Tyler Candy because of a broken down sugar truck. Holcomb Candy in Jacksonville, Texas, graciously loaned Harbuck the sugar he needed to keep producing candy so he could keep his employees in a job.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with those who you would call competitors,” Harbuck said.
Harbuck said he owes a lot of his business success to the positive working relationships he has kept over the years, the advice from his mentors like George and Holcomb, and his friendship with his business partner Bobby Borden. Harbuck was taught there is plenty of room for everyone in the candy business, and it is his role to help others out who are trying to make a living, too.
“That’s been my philosophy all these years,” Harbuck said. “You just try to help everyone out.”
After 32 years in the candy business, Harbuck continues to fill customer orders on paper invoices and makes candy, as it is ordered, to ensure freshness. Harbuck said Goodart’s candy is the freshest and finest candy on the market.
“Quality is the No. 1 thing with our candy,” Harbuck said.