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Falls' TIKI business lights the way to backyard fun

TIKI torches, the outdoor oil lamps synonymous with beach parties and backyard barbecues, aren't made in Maui or Malibu.

Nope, the company is based in Menomonee Falls, a city slightly less frequently associated with Polynesian party ware.

The TIKI brand is owned by Lamplight, a subsidiary of W.C. Bradley Co. Founded in 1964, Lamplight was originally a company that produced smokeless indoor lamp oil -- and it still does -- but since 1988, it has also produced outdoor torch oil and accessories.

makes up majority of our business today Jennifer

It acquired the TIKI Corp. in 2001, and in many ways, it hasn't looked back.

But don't feel too badly if you did a double take when you found out your TIKI torches are coming from the Falls.

"That's a pretty common reaction," says Jennifer marketing director . "TIKI has this southern California and Polynesian heritage and Tahiti imagery. So it surprising that it's sitting here in Milwaukee."

has Hawaiian Polynesian vibe but located here. diversified the portfolio not typical tiki bamboo torch range of rice point and materals gives it a more holistic feel in your background

In other words, Lamplight was producing outdoor torches and citronella fuel, but the acquisition of TIKI Corp. gave it the brand name that's synonymous with backyard fun.

While the bamboo, glass, ceramic, metal and other torches are produced in China, the TIKI fuel is blended and shipped right from the Menomonee Falls factory.

It's a sight to behold, actually, with gigantic drums of oil, blended on site with citronella, dyes and fragrances, and bottled on site then shipped on pallets from the warehouse.

Lamplight employs about 80 full-time employees, but during peak season in the summer, it will bring in another 150 temps.

Just like any other petroleum product, the price of TIKI oil is dictated by the market, but Jennifer says that sales actually improve when fuel prices go up -- since that's when people stay at home to entertain.

As for the indoor oil lamps, sales peak during hurricane season, says Jennifer.

Considering Lamplight's products might be considered low-tech by some -- they are just oils and torches, after all -- Jennifer says that the company's future actually is quite bright.

Lamplight introduced last year called clean burn combination of table top decorative vessel and works with clean burn torch fuel vs. tradition channister with birthday wick "you get dramatically less smoke. people love fire but doing dance around table to avoid smoke with this no smoke or suit perfecter dinner parties

oil is 85 percent plant based so has green aspect.

"We believe there's a steady demand for that in the future, and it comes down to giving the consumer new and interesting ways to have that fire in their backyard," says Jennifer. tiki torches have always been part of backyard s we want to hep people enjoy as long as there are backyard we want to provide family friends and neighbors an opportunity to gather and we believe fire provides that opportunity.

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