Expansion to improve efficiency
New addition will give Hearthside bakery in GR extra storage room, avoid off-site storing costs.
A $7-million expansion is set to help production of granola in Grand Rapids.
Downers Grove, Illinois-based Hearthside Food Solutions is in the midst of a 300,000-square-foot addition at its bakery in Kentwood, 2975 Radcliff Ave. SE.
Hearthside purchased the former Roskam Baking site in 2011 and has had limited storage since, keeping raw ingredients and packaging materials off-site in Grand Rapids. The new addition will allow the bakery to bypass the logistics and extra costs of storing off-site.
“We’re going to use it for a plant-attached warehouse, driving efficiency in our supply chain,” said Jeff Lendzion, vice president of supply chain with Hearthside. “Imagine we’re taking one leg out of our supply chain — the transportation leg.
“We transfer those on a just-in-time basis. Now, we can bring them in here and just pull over on fork lift, versus transporting them from all over.”
The expansion is expected to be finished and operational in December 2017 or January 2018. Wolverine Building Group is the contractor on the project with Robert Grooters Development owning the land and leasing to Hearthside.
Wolverine Chairman Mike Kelly said the expansion will pay for itself quickly.
“The hassle of maintaining the FDA regulations on multiple trailers rather than just one building will free up other significant valuable resources,” Kelly said.
Hearthside has consistently pushed investments in its multiple Grand Rapids sites during the past decade, including more than $10 million in the Kentwood baking campus in renovations and equipment upgrades.
Hearthside has 24 facilities in the United States and Europe, which the contract food maker uses to produce its snack bars, cookies, crackers, pretzels, croutons, breadcrumbs and other baked goods.
At the Kentwood bakery, Hearthside produces mostly granola, granola bars and cereal.
“Grand Rapids is an important hub for us,” Lendzion said. “This is where we do a majority of our granola production and granola bars. It’s where the industry has started, most of the granola bars in the U.S. come out of the Midwest and are distributed from here.”
The expansion is a large project, Lendzion said, and will allow Hearthside to settle in the Grand Rapids market for at least a short period of time. It was a necessary project, as the bakery has more than 50 trucks leaving with finished products every day.
“It’s a huge project because we have a lot of product that moves here,” he said. “The key was we have to keep relevant and costs low. We’re always looking to drive down our costs to support our growth and where the organization is going.”