Business is popping
Minnesota-based Angie’s Artisan Treats has opened a popcorn production plant and distribution center in Reno.
The company, whose signature brand is called Angie’s Boomchickapop, has invested more than $1 million in a 200,000-square-foot production plant on Sandhill Road in the South Meadows area and is expected to create 160 jobs in the next few years.
Company officials joined Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada staff and Gov. Brian Sandoval at a Wednesday afternoon ceremony at the Eldorado announcing Angie’s expansion to the Biggest Little City in the World.
The company, which will start small with a staff of 25-30, will eventually grow to 100-plus workers, said Jon Fieldman, Angie’s vice president of operations. The business has a general manager on site and is interviewing forklift drivers and warehouse managers.
“It’ll be a distribution center at first,” said Fieldman of the facility, which formerly housed Eastman Kodak. “Then we’ll grow one shift, followed by second and third shifts,” he said. “By early 2016, we will stop deliveries entirely from the mother ship” in Minnesota, he said.
In terms of the eventual workforce in northern Nevada, Fieldman said it would comprise the “whole gamut,” including engineers food scientists, forklift drivers and manufacturing workers.
“It’s a wide swath” of skill sets, said Fieldman.
While bagged popcorn used to be the poor man’s salty snack, Angie’s and several other players have been taking up more shelf space with their various flavors of bagged popcorn, which are all colorfully packaged and marketed.
“It’s right on trend” for consumers wanting healthier snacks, he said. He added that microwaved popcorn is losing market share because so many varieties are high in salt and saturated fat.
“Besides, people are more mobile and they don’t always have a microwave handy,” said Fieldman. Hence the advantage of Angie’s with all its different flavor options emphasizing herbs and spices. Angie’s also has a line of sweet dessert-like kettle corn.
“The category has been growing like crazy,” said Fieldman and the Reno location is accessible to the company’s “very big market” in California. He said Angie’s hopes to add a baked puff to the product line, “which will be a healthier alternative to Cheetos.”
But he doesn’t expect Angie’s will have potato chip, pretzels or taco chip versions.
With the goal to significantly grow the business, Angie’s decided earlier this year to start looking at the opportunity to expand in California, Nevada or Utah, said Fieldman.
“In the end, we made the decision to move to Reno because of its business friendly attitude to help us establish ourselves here and business incentives received from the state,” said Fieldman.
EDAWN officials said food and beverage innovation is a rapidly growing strength for the region as a whole, and welcoming a strong exporter like Angie’s into this cluster for both manufacturing and distribution is a positive development.
“It’s exciting to be selected by Angie’s Artisan Treats as the place to be for their dramatic projected growth, said Mike Kazmierski, CEO of EDAWN.
“I look forward to tasting all of their snack offerings.”
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.