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Jul 7, 2017

Growing Egg Production Company Putting Down Stakes in Arizona

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Hard-boiled and peeled eggs that make their way to retailers, restaurants, and convenience stores across the country will soon be coming out of a new 120,000 square foot facility in Yuma, Arizona.

Almark Foods, which was founded in Gainesville, Georgia in 1979 and still maintains its corporate offices there, is committing some $27.5 million to the Yuma plant, on top of the $1.4 million it has already spent acquiring the 17-acre site.

“It’s a big deal for us,” says Don Stoner, who is the co-owner of Almark, noting that the new facility will mark the company’s first western presence.

“This will be our fourth plant, counting what we already have up and running,” continues Stoner.

The company’s other facilities, besides its Gainesville base, are in Newberry, South Carolina, and just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Yuma facility is coming to life on previously vacant land at the northwest corner of Avenue 41/2 East and 36th Street. Upon completion it will house not only the latest equipment for cooking, chilling, and peeling hard-boiled eggs, it will also feature new state-of-the-art German food processing technology.

“Everything about what they are going to be doing with that plant is cutting edge,” says Yuma City Administrator Greg Wilkinson, who along with City of Yuma Mayor Doug Nichols, lobbied to get the company to build in Yuma.

“They had actually pretty much decided that they weren’t going to come here, they were thinking of some other place in the metro area,” continues Wilkinson.

In fact, Almark was looking at sites in both southwestern Utah as well as Las Vegas.

“But we showed them around Yuma and provided to them information about our workforce,” says Wilkinson, who notes that “when people here get employed by a company, they tend to stay with that company—we have a very stable workforce.”

The Almark plant, says John Courtis, gives to growing Yuma what it lacks the most.

“Basically our economy has been like a milk stool,” says Courtis, who is the executive director of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce.

“We have agriculture, which is a $3.3 billion business here, and we have tourism and the military with the Marine Corps Air Station.”

“But we’ve needed that third leg in order to create a table rather than a milk stool,” says Courtis. “And that’s what Almark is giving us.”

To say that Almark, since its inception, has made an art out of finding new and innovative uses for eggs would be an understatement.

Besides hard-boiled and peeled eggs, the company also produces frozen diced eggs, deviled egg kits, and colored Easter eggs, among other offerings.

Enjoying revenues of around $100 million, Almark processes up to 1.5 million eggs daily just at its Gainesville facility.

Last summer the Davis, California-based AGR Partners, which invests in food and agricultural companies, announced it was forming a partnership and making a strategic investment in Almark.

In a statement, Ejnar Knudsen, the chief executive officer of AGR Partners, said his company made the investment for one reason: “We look to support best-in-class businesses with great partners; our interest in Almark Foods aligns closely with this goal.”

Although the exact amount of the investment was not revealed, the Sacramento Business Journal said “it appears to be between $20 million and $30 million, based on the increasing running total of AGR’s investments.”

Almark’s future, obviously, is promising: its distribution network includes not only any number of convenience stores nationally, but also such retail giants as Costco, Kroger, Publix, and Safeway.

“We did everything we could think of to get them here,” says Wilkinson, “including securing a grant for a piece of property to extend some water and sewer lines for them.”

“They wanted to get this facility up and running quickly, and so did we,” he adds.

Construction on the new Almark plant started this spring and has a general completion date of early 2018.

 

 

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