by Elaine Theriault-Currier
Specialty food manufacturer Maine Crisp Company has expanded its production capacity tenfold by relocating to a Winslow facility. Expected to be fully operational by May 2021, the facility’s extensive capacity is necessary to fulfill demand generated by Maine Crisp’s recent New England-wide distribution deal with Whole Foods Market.
Maine Crisp launched in 2014 in a licensed home kitchen. Three years later, it transitioned to a 2,500 square foot manufacturing facility at 10 Railroad Square in Waterville, leasing 3,500 square feet of additional warehousing space in Benton as product demand grew. By relocating to the 17,500 square foot facility at 20 Lithgow Street, in Winslow, the award-winning producer of gluten-free and plant-based crisps will consolidate and grow its manufacturing, packaging, and warehousing operations.
“The new facility in Winslow offers the scaffolding to sustain our growth trajectory and ambitious distribution targets,” explains Steve Getz, Maine Crisp co-founder and VP of Marketing. “We are thrilled to have found a space that allows us to continue growing in central Maine, a region that has supported us from the beginning, when we graduated from home kitchen to industrial facility.”
The expansion of Maine Crisp’s manufacturing capacity is expected to triple employment within the next three years. Currently, new employees earn a minimum of $15 per hour and are offered health insurance and paid time off, including their birthday. The Winslow headquarters will support a diverse mix of jobs, from receipt and inventory of bulk ingredients, manufacturing, packaging, and finished goods inventory to marketing, logistics, and management.
With all operations unified under one roof, Maine Crisp is working with the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to design a layout that optimizes current production flow while accommodating projected future demand. In addition, as a specialty food producer, Maine Crisp requires an FDA-approved, dedicated gluten-free environment that meets regulatory guidelines to maintain the company’s non-GMO, allergen, and Kosher certifications. The 20 Lithgow St. facility also provides three-phase power, multiple loading docks, ample storage space, office space, and a front lobby for visitors and on-site retail.
“Working with MEP has been a fantastic experience – we are building a production flow that is flexible enough to support us for years,” states Claire Getz, manager of product quality control at Maine Crisp. “The MEP consultants’ deep, multi-faceted expertise makes them invaluable partners as we face the exciting challenges of scaling up while maintaining our artisanal quality.”
As a family-operated business committed to Maine, Maine Crisp utilized local service providers to finance and design the Winslow headquarters, including Kennebec Savings Bank and local architect Jim Shipsky. Maine Crisp sources its crisps’ primary ingredient, buckwheat, from Aroostook County and works with Lewiston-based branding and marketing firm Anchour. Maine Crisp products are available in Maine Hannaford stores, Whole Foods Markets throughout England, specialty shops along the East Coast, and online at mainecrisp.com.
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