Made in SA: Reed Candle Company creates light, inspiration for many

Immigrant Peter Doan Reed founded company in SA garage in 1937

Reed Candle Company, a business that began in a San Antonio garage in 1937, now brings light and inspiration to people around the world.

Sister Schodts-Reed is the company’s president, and although her name may conjure up images of a convent, she is not a nun.

"When I call someone and say, 'This is Sister Reed calling,’ I know immediately (what they’re thinking). So sometimes it gets me through to people that are difficult to reach,” she said, joking about how her given name, Sister, can cause confusion and open doors.

Reed actually was married to Peter N. Reed, the son of the company’s founder. He died in 2009.

Her father-in-law, Peter Doan Reed, was an immigrant from Mexico who moved to San Antonio and, with his brother, opened a chain of Red & White stores.

When he tried to buy votive candles to put on his shelves, he discovered a business opportunity.

“The closest place he could find them was in St. Louis, Mo.,” Reed said. "So he bought two votive molding machines and put them in his garage, and thus started Reed Candle Company."

The pre-World War II business has grown tremendously, now occupying several buildings along Poplar Street, just northwest of downtown.

All of the equipment there now is state-of-the-art, capable of producing candles by the dozens.

The company sells more than 350 different products, including the original votive-style candles, prayer candles for everything from love to financial blessings, and even those that offer just a pleasant scent.

In fact, Reed said the company invented religious candles.

"I meet people all the time that have no idea that these candles are made here in San Antonio ,” she said.

Reed said the family business has some major players among its clients -- including HEB, which has sold Reed Candles for more than 65 years.

People within the company’s walls — the more than 200 employees -- also matter a great deal, Reed said.

"Our employees are very important to us and I'm very proud that so many of them have been with us for many years,” she said. “I think the longest one has been here about 47 years.”

Being a bright spot in the local community has long been a priority for the company too.

Reed said her father-in-law, Peter Doan Reed, founded little league baseball in San Antonio, and made a lifelong mission of helping children.

His son furthered that work, and the tradition continues even now, Reed said.

For a list of recent stories Katrina Webber has done, click here.

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