Class of 2015
Starting off doing odd jobs around family-owned Atkinson Candy Co.’s facility, Eric currently serves as president of the company founded by his grandfather, B.E. Atkinson Sr., in 1932 in Lufkin, TX.
Eric was born in Dallas on June 28, 1954, to Frances and Dr. Basil E. Atkinson Jr., who is a 2011 Candy Hall of Famer. He has three siblings; Dennis, Rinda and Amy.
He attended St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, TX, graduating in 1973, and then went on to Southwestern University, in Georgetown, TX, before transferring to the University of Texas, Austin. He graduated from that institution in 1978 with a bachelor of arts in Economics.
Noting he’s been in the candy business nearly his entire life, Eric says his first industry experience came at the age of four and his first official job, sweeping up Atkinson’s warehouse, came at 16.
He took a full-time position with Atkinson Candy after college, serving as national sales director. During the early 1990s, he was appointed vice-president of sales, a position he held until being named president in 2000.
In 1992, Eric married Darlene in Lufkin, and together they have three children: Sarah, Austin and Beau. The family is so ingrained in the candy business, the couple’s engagement and honeymoon were both timed to coincide with trade show travel.
An active industry member, Eric has sat on the board of the Convenience Distribution Association (CDA) (formerly American Wholesale Marketers Association) for more than 15 years and has been involved in a number of boards and committees for the National Confectioners Association (NCA), including its Expo and strategic planning committees and the association’s board of trustees. He has also been active in the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Southern Tobacco & Candy Association (STCA).
For his commitment to the industry, Eric has received accolades from a number of trade groups, including the 1990 Candy Man of the Year from the STCA; the 1998 Dean Award from the CDA, which also inducted him into its hall of fame in 2013; the NCA’s Doc Reed Silver Candy Dish Award in 2008; and he was nominated for the Kettle Award in 2010.
Away from the industry, Eric is an avid supporter of Lufkin High School football and regularly makes product donations to events such as Zoo Boo and Brookshire Brothers Community Days. In addition, he has arranged the company-wide blood drive for the past six years and has regularly contributed to the United Way for more than a decade.
In his free time, Eric is a devoted water sportsman, explaining the water is his “happy place.” He enjoys everything from scuba diving in caves and shipwrecks to waterskiing and his daily swim at the local Boys & Girls Club.