Tootsie Roll, Hershey, others benefit from strategic location
Hazleton’s location near the crossroads of Interstates 80 and 81 allows food processing companies to transport products to their destination quickly.
A long-standing and growing industry cluster in Greater Hazleton is food processing, as many companies that make or distribute food products are located in the area. Drawn by the region’s strategic location, proximity to major roadways and transportation networks, competitive operating environment and a highly rated workforce, companies such as Tootsie Roll Industries, The Hershey Company, Gonnella Frozen Products, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Cargill Meat Solutions and Otis Spunkmeyer have chosen to operate facilities in CAN DO’s industrial parks.
Gonnella Frozen Products makes frozen dough such as bread and rolls from Humboldt Industrial Park. The company sells its products to supermarket chains, which bake them on site to sell to grocery customers. Gonnella manufactures more than 1 million pounds of product in Hazleton each year.
Plant Manager Drew Hoben said Gonnella’s Hazleton location is an advantage for the company, noting, “This facility is state of the art within our system, and having the facility in the Hazleton area has led to operational costs that are lower overall. We consider the location central and a driving factor in our overall success,” he said.
In addition to its strategic location, Greater Hazleton also has a workforce that employers describe as invaluable.
Gene Tannler, senior director of manufacturing at The Hershey Company, which creates well-known products such as Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Kit Kat, Cadbury and Caramello from its facility in Humboldt Industrial Park, noted the contributions that Hershey’s employees make to its bottom line.
“Our success at Hazleton begins with our great people. They have an outstanding ‘can do’ attitude, a high degree of ownership, and there is a tremendous amount of pride around the plant. Hazleton also provides a strong pool of candidates when we have open positions. Each time we look for new employees, the number of applicants exceeds what we need. So in Hazleton, we have great people and a great location,” he said.
Other companies in the food industry see the Hazleton area as an advantageous location to establish a distribution center, such as the one Tootsie Roll Industries operates in Humboldt Industrial Park. The company distributes all 43 of its brands from its Hazleton center, with up to 70 million pounds of candy each year going through the local facility.
Tootsie Roll General Manager Scott Cox said the company chose to locate in Hazleton because of its excellent location for food distribution. “The workforce and location have continued to be a benefit for us. Since we’re near the crossroads of Interstates 80 and 81, trucks entering and leaving our facility can easily access roads to the north, south, east or west and we have the ability to attract many trucking firms,” Cox said.
Packaging companies that serve the needs of the food industry also have facilities in Greater Hazleton.
Tech Packaging President Bob Janes said Greater Hazleton was an ideal location for his food packaging company, the latest to open in Humboldt Industrial Park. “Since our company has been experiencing such a large volume of growth, we wanted a bigger location and saw the site in Humboldt Industrial Park as perfect for our needs,” he said.
To promote the growth of the food processing cluster, CAN DO has developed a blog, www.wecandofood.com, which features stories of local food processors and their successes. The blog details the benefits of Greater Hazleton for companies in the food industry and provides a way for food processing companies to publicize their achievements.
The blog is complemented by a brochure that highlights the benefits of a Greater Hazleton location for food processing companies, along with updates to CAN DO’s website, making it even more comprehensive.
“These initiatives will help us promote the many specific benefits for food processing companies in Greater Hazleton,” explained CAN DO Vice President of Sales and Marketing Joseph Lettiere. “Our area offers a unique set of advantages that make it ideally situated for companies that create or distribute food or packaging.”