On May 14, the NCSA presented John Brooks, Jr., president of Adams & Brooks, Inc., with the 2024 Kettle Award. Brooks was recognized during the 77th Kettle Awards presentation at the Eiteljorg Museum. Along with Brooks, the other 2024 Kettle Awards nominees included Greg Power, CEO of Las Olas Confections and Snacks, and Mark A. Tarner, president of South Bend Chocolate Company. Following the reception and awards presentation, the nominees were honored at a private dinner attended by family, friends, and colleagues. The Kettle Awards are an annual recognition for a deserving individual working within the U.S. confectionery manufacturing industry. 

"I'm joined here tonight with a very nice contingent of the A&B crew, and I want to take this moment to explain why you're here,” said Brooks Jr. “Now, you might think that you're here because you're supporting me and you're supporting the company, and yes, that's true, but there's something else—we talk about teamwork and being interconnected and being interdependent; we talk about no one gets their job done unless we all get our job done, and you think I could be effective in what I do without all of you by my side? No way. So, you're here because you're just as much a recipient of this award as I am, so thank you for being here."

Brooks serves as president of Adams & Brooks, Inc., leading the executive and operational activities and reporting to company chairman and 2010 Kettle Awards recipient John Brooks, Sr. With more than 30 years working in various roles at Adams & Brooks, his career journey began at the company gaining experience through part-time jobs during high school and college until he joined Adams & Brooks full time in 1997 after earning his Bachelor of Arts in English from Vanderbilt University and his MBA from the University of Southern California. 

Prior to being named president of the company in 2021, Brooks served as chief operating officer, involved in all aspects of the business. A hands-on leader, Brooks oversees the company’s two BRC-certified manufacturing facilities in California and Mexico. He led the legal, operational, and managerial transition of the Mexican manufacturing facility from a separate company to a formal subsidiary, as well as playing a key role in the relocation of Adams & Brooks’ U.S. manufacturing operations from its legacy site in Los Angeles to its current location in San Bernardino. In recent years, Brooks led Adams & Brooks’ implementation of Systems Applications and Products (SAP) in the U.S. and Mexican operations, a significant step in modernizing the company’s manufacturing operations. 

Beyond his work with Adams & Brooks, Brooks is heavily involved in the confectionery industry. He has served on the NCA board for many years and currently chairs the investment committee. Brooks is also an NCSA Manufacturer Advisory Council member and an ardent supporter of the Western Candy Conference, chairing its 2007 event and recently rejoining the board.

“We are thrilled to present John Brooks, Jr. with this Kettle Awards recognition,” said Joseph Melville, NCSA chairman and owner of Melville Candy Co. “With more than three decades of commitment to the confectionery industry, John has made great strides for Adams & Brooks. We are also proud to celebrate the achievements of Greg Power and Mark A. Tarner who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the confectionery industry.”

The Kettle Awards were established in 1946 by industry publisher Don Gussow. Each year, the nominees are selected by the Kettle Awards Committee for their dedication to the confectionery industry, superior achievement in sales and marketing, education and personnel training, energy and environmental contributions, quality advancement, production and plant improvement, and research and product development. The NCSA assumed guardianship of the Kettle Awards in February 2024 from Candy Industry magazine.

“On behalf of the NCSA, we extend a warm welcome to John as a Kettle Awards recipient,” said Mark Lozano, executive director of the Kettle Awards Committee. “Thank you to all who joined us in acknowledging the unwavering dedication of John, Greg, and Mark to the confectionery industry. Our sincere appreciation also goes to our incredible sponsors whose generosity made this ceremony possible.”

Greg Power was selected as a nominee for the 2024 Kettle Awards for his long-time commitment to the confectionery industry. With nearly 34 years of experience, Power started his confectionery career in 1990 at Helen Grace Chocolates, working his way up in the warehouse and plant operations. After the company was acquired in 2014 and became BBX Sweet Holdings, Power continued rising in rank. Noteworthy is his leadership in consolidating multiple facilities and brands into Las Olas Confections and Snacks, now the Southeast's premier specialty confectionery manufacturer. Power is active in the industry through various organizations, including Retail Confectioners International, where he currently serves as the first vice president. He also sat on the Board of the Western Candy Conference, chaired the conference in 2014, and served as president in 2015. 

Mark A. Tarner was recognized as a Kettle Awards nominee based on his entrepreneurial spirit and advancements in the confectionery space. Tarner founded South Bend Chocolate Co. in 1993, quickly earning several accolades and growing it from a home-run business to a full wholesale operation. Aside from South Bend Chocolate Co., Tarner is involved in additional ventures, including discovering paleontology, where he uncovered a new turtle species, he created South Bend Farms—a farmer’s market retail store, and he is currently developing a 90-acre tourist destination in South Bend, Indiana.

The Kettle Awards are supported by the members of The Kettle Club—Goetze’s Candy Co., Inc., Adams & Brooks, Inc., Spangler Candy Co., PIM Brands, Inc., Sconza Candy Co., The Clair Family and Brown & Haley.

2024 Kettle Awards sponsors include Absolute Total Packaging Group; Adams & Brooks, Inc.; Barry Callebaut; BBX Sweet Holdings; Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Inc.; Blommer Chocolate Co.; the Candy Hall of Fame; Cargill, Inc.; Enstrom Confection; Ferrera Candy Co., Inc.; Goetze’s Candy Company; Jelly Belly Candy Co.; Las Olas Confections and Snacks; NCSA; PEZ Candy Inc.; PIM Brands Inc.; SACMI Packaging and Chocolate; Spangler Candy Co.; South Bend Chocolate Company; The Clair Family and Brown & Haley; The Madelaine Chocolate Co.; The Murnane Companies; Union Standard Equipment; and Vidal Candies USA.

To learn more about the Kettle Awards, visit kettleawards.com.

Related: Living legends: roundtable interview with Spangler Candy’s three Kettle Award recipients