Class of 2016
James Day was born in Cincinnati, on February 8, 1928, to George and Martha Day, and he had one brother, George “Bud” Day.
Jim says he dreamt of being an engineer when he left high school, and “never in a million years thought he would be in the candy business.”
Out of high school, he worked as a union truck driver for the sporting goods company McGregor Goldsmith for a couple of years before he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served during the Korean War.
In April 1951, he married his long-time sweetheart Elaine, who he met at a school dance when he was 15 and she was 14. Together they have three children and eight grandchildren, and Jim exclaims he is “one lucky guy.”
After working as a foreman with a concrete company for just one year, Jim started Day Precision Wall in 1953, a concrete foundation company, and served as Vice-President until 1978. He also started a couple of other building and construction companies before hearing from a neighbor that Esther Price, the founder of her namesake candy company was looking to sell. Jim says he had been casting around for something more challenging so he “took out a second mortgage and took a chance.” He says he found the transition exciting and he was privileged to learn the candymaking business from Esther herself, alongside her long-time employees.
As a result, the company never deviated from Esther’s original recipes. Jim says this commitment to the classic products is valued by his customers and is the reason Esther Price chocolates are a tradition for many families.
For 40 years, Jim says he walked into the plant six days a week and did the best job he knew how, not because he wanted to be thanked, but because he wanted to give his customers the finest chocolates possible and help his employees, who are his extended family.
Under his leadership, Esther Price Candies was named Ohio’s Best Chocolates in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2016 and was named Best of Ohio-Made Candy by Governor John Kasich, in 2014.
Jim attributes his success to being very “hands-on,” being passionate about and enjoying what he does and treating his “work family” with respect. In his continuing role as President/CEO, he still goes to work six days a week.
Somehow, Jim still managed to find time to serve on the Board of Directors for the Retail Confectioners International (RCI), and in 2014 he received a plaque of honor from the association for his many years of service, including hosting the RCI Annual Convention and Industry Expo in 2013.
Induction into the Candy Hall of Fame, Jim says, “is a milestone I never dreamt would be possible and I am humbled by the honor and filled with gratitude beyond my wildest imagination.”
Jim passed away on September 18, 2020 at the age of 92.