From tangy flavors to sweet aromas, a family owned business here in Michiana has been stimulating the senses for over 100 years. There is a good chance you've never heard of them.
In this weeks Made in Michiana takes us to Lebermuth, where they are adding flavor to the world one client at a time.
“We have made just about everything, if it smells we sell it,” says the President of Lebermuth Rob Brown.
And he really means just about anything.
“Anything that has a flavor or aroma, tooth paste, chewing gum, perfume, deodorant, soap, shampoo, conditioner,” explains Brown
While, they don't actually make the products, they are responsible for the tastes and smells.
“People are pretty surprised when they know we are here making perfumes and flavorings and things like that,” says Brown
Robs grand father started the company around the turn of the century, when he purchased peppermint oil from a farmer near Nappanee.
“The gentleman William Wrigley had a small chewing gum factory at that time and they made a deal and he started producing, having peppermint oil produced and traded to different companies in Chicago,” Brown describes how the company got its start.
What started as a trading business has blossomed over the years.
“Today it is a lot different, we process oil, we have fractional distillation equipment,” says Brown. “About 50 percent of our business has to do with essential oils, natural products that are produced from plants that aromatic. We also have developed a creative staff, in the production of perfumes and fragrances and certain flavor compounds that are produced from essential oils.”
Oils are distilled in Bremen while trained perfumers sniff out new fragrances at the headquarters in Mishawaka.
“We have about 3,000 materials that we are currently stocking and using in these various fragrances so the combinations are infinite that you could use, to make a particular oil for a particular product,” explains Jim Fuch the Chief Perfumer at Lebermuth.
Under the direction of Chief Perfumer Jim Fuchs, science and art combined to meet the customer’s needs.
“As long as you have a good nose and memory you can do this kind of work, but it sure helps if you have a background in chemistry so you can understand how they interact with various products that they go into,” describes Fuch.
Today the company employs just over 60 people and sells to more than 30 different counties. Lebermuth is growing and the natural and organic movement has helped.
“Lebermuth is a natural company, we sell products that go into natural products, whether it is a natural food or a natural perfume, or a natural cosmetic,” explains Brown. “That is the core of what people see us as, as a nature based aroma company or a flavor company.”
Even as the company expands, Rob says he expects Lebermuth to remain a family owned company and stay in Indiana.
“We are grounded in Indiana our Family,” says Brown. “We are Hoosiers, IU grads, Purdue grads, I don't know, I guess it is kind of in our blood, we think the Midwest is a great central point. If we are going to expand, we will buy a facility or a plant in other parts of the country or the world, there are lots of way to expand and still have your headquarters right here in Michiana which is what we intend to do.”
The president of the company says the reason that most people have never heard of them, is because companies that use their fragrances and flavorings like that to remain a secret.
He says people could be using a product that has a flavor or smell that originated from right here in Michiana and they would never know it.