Mike Weglein, B.S. ’95
Picture a room filled with gummi candies in every color of the rainbow—sugary bears, sour worms, miniature cola bottles—plus a variety of marshmallows and licorice. It sounds like a Candyland game come to life, but it’s actually the sample room at confectionery giant Haribo’s Baltimore-based U.S. headquarters.
Mike Weglein, B.S. ’95, Haribo’s information technology manager, occasionally stops by the sample room himself and appreciates the excitement the company name generates among candy connoisseurs worldwide.
“I love the fact that when I tell people where I work, their faces light up.”
“I love the fact that when I tell people where I work, their faces light up,” he says about the company best known for its signature gummi bears, technically called “Gold Bears” and first introduced to the U.S. market in the 1980s.
Being a part of a century-old firm whose slogan is “Kids and grown-ups love it so—the happy world of Haribo!” is a departure for Weglein, who spent 20 years in the hospitality industry before moving to the Germany-based candy manufacturer. In 1993, he was working as a bellhop at a Hilton hotel in Pikesville, Maryland, while pursuing his business administration degree at UB when he became interested in the facility’s new computer system.
After graduating, he became an IT trainer for Hilton and traveled for five years, helping with installations. Then, deciding he wanted to stay closer to his Baltimore home, he handled IT duties for Turf Valley Resort and for the InterContinental Hotels Group in Baltimore and in Washington, D.C.
When the opportunity at Haribo arose in late 2013, he was intrigued. “It’s customer service in a new way,” he explains. “I’ve enjoyed learning more about the food industry—plus it’s a nice change to not be awakened in the middle of the night when a hotel is having trouble with its Wi-Fi.”
Weglein and his staff are responsible for the computer systems that support Haribo’s U.S. sales and purchasing, distribution, packaging, inventory and more. And there are lots of products to track: The company estimates that every day it produces more than 100 million gummi bears.
Some Haribo varieties, he notes, are available only in Europe—like a Gold Bear couple holding hands that he saw while visiting Haribo’s international headquarters in Bonn, Germany, as part of his interview process. On that same trip, he had the chance to sample some just-produced bears in a production plant.
“They really do taste especially good when they’re so fresh,” he notes.