11/19/2011 12:04:00 AM Van Wert honey plant acquired by Lima firm
A worker at the Golden Heritage Foods, Inc. filling plant located on Bonnewitz Ave. packages Busy Bee honey on Friday. The plant was purchased by Lima-based Wannemacher Total Logistics who hopes to expand the operation. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
VAN WERT - A Van Wert facility is being acquired by a Lima company. Wannemacher Total Logistics has purchased the Bonnewitz Ave. liquid filling plant owned by Golden Heritage Foods, LLC. The acquisition will not displace any of the 30 workers, and company President Greg Wannemacher is hopeful that more workers could be hired in the future.
"The plant has the capacity to maybe go three times as large in terms of production capabilities," he stated. "At present, the production lines operate only one shift daily, so there is the opportunity for much growth in the very near future."
The building is one of the few available to do what is called "hot-fill" packaging. Workers package Busy Bee honey, as well as several other private brands of honey that are then distributed around the country. Wannemacher will continue to conduct the work for Golden Heritage, and in the process, improve the number of services the company offers.
"We wanted to expand into the liquid fill operation," Wannemacher explained. "It goes hand-in-hand with our total logistics concept. We do transportation and distribution services and we've also done some contract packaging, so this kind of takes us to the next level."
Wannemacher was already a vendor of Golden Heritage, so the two companies already had a relationship before the deal was drawn up. Wannemacher used to make deliveries of raw honey to the Van Wert plant, and saw the chance to expand the company's packaging operation. The facility's close proximity to Lima also played a key role in the acquisition, making managing the plant easier than for the Hillsboro, Kansas-headquartered Golden Heritage.
"The management decided to secure a relationship with somebody who would continue packaging for them and serve kind of as their eastern distribution center," Wannemacher shared.
Company principals expressed their enthusiasm for the facility at a Friday morning press conference at 500 Bonnewitz Ave. Wannemacher pointed out that, aside from honey, the facility could be used to package any product using the hot-fill process, including syrup, juice, and even salsa. The plant comes with an SQF Level 3 certification. "That's one of the highest levels of certification you can have at a food industry production plant," Wannemacher said.
Aside from a new name on the front of the building, Wannemacher stated that local residents would see little change at the facility.
"We're very excited about it," he smiled. "The community of Van Wert has been very supportive of us and what they want to do, just as they've always been supportive of Golden Heritage Foods."