Roskam adds jobs

January 23, 2010
| By Pete Daly |
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Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced in June that Roskam Baking Co., a contract supplier of croutons, cereal, snack mixes and dry-mix products for major food companies, planned to invest $60.5 million to add new lines at its Kentwood facility to make products for other companies, including well-known brand names.

The governor said Roskam's investment was expected to create 3,168 new jobs, including 1,500 directly by the company.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. estimated at the time that the increased economic activity created by the Roskam investments in the years to come would create an additional 1,668 indirect jobs.

Based on the MEDC's recommendation, the MEGA board in June approved a state tax credit valued at $20.1 million over 10 years.

In July, the city of Kentwood granted a six-year abatement on the company's personal property taxes, valued at $585,000 over that period. Roskam CFO John Lallo told the Kentwood city council that the company planned to invest about $10 million a year for the next six years, but he scaled back the number of expected new jobs to about 600 over that six-year period.

Roskam, a privately held company incorporated by M.C. and Donald O. Roskam in Grand Rapids in 1950, has several food production properties in Greater Grand Rapids. Lisa Golder, a Kentwood city official, said she believes the company has about 1,100 employees in Kentwood alone. The Right Place listed Roskam as one of the Top Employers in West Michigan 2008, with 2,000 employees.

Roskam executives did not respond to requests for an interview.

In 2009, Roskam purchased a former Steelcase office furniture plant on at 5353 Broadmoor Avenue in Kentwood.

One of the company's most prominent food processing facilities is at 3061 Shaffer Ave. in Kentwood, where the Rothbury Farms brand of croutons are produced.

According to its Web site, Rothbury Farms originated in Grand Rapids in 1923, producing pies. Later, it shifted production to bread and similar products. In the early 1970s, Rothbury Farms began producing croutons, stuffing and bread crumbs, using its own fresh-baked bread exclusively for the croutons.

In 2007, Rothbury Farms croutons won a ChefsBest award. ChefsBest is an independent judging organization "dedicated to recognizing and honoring America's best food and food-related products." Its judges said Rothbury Farms croutons were best because they are "fresh, and had a pleasing complexity. The authentic cheese, herb, and garlic seasonings were balanced, and there was a rewarding crunchy texture to the croutons."

Rothbury Farms Inc. was incorporated by the Roskams in 1985.

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