Hostess hails flagship plant expansion
by Laurie Gorton
EMPORIA, KAS. —A ribbon cutting July 18 celebrated Hostess Brands L.L.C.’s $30 million expansion of its flagship bakery at Emporia, the first steps in an eventual $50 million total investment at the location. State and local officials joined Hostess Brands’ executives in cutting the ribbon.
“We have several more investments of $20 million planned over the next 12 months for an aggregate $50 million in this facility,” said Andrew Jhawar, senior partner, Apollo Global Management, New York, which with Metropoulos & Co., Greenwich, Conn., bought the baked snack foods business of Hostess Brands, Inc. in January 2013.
The morning’s ceremony celebrated addition of a new 36,000-square-foot distribution center and warehouse plus installation of a new Auto-Bake line complete with upgraded packaging and palletizing equipment.
William Toler, president of Hostess, described Emporia as the Kansas City-based company’s flagship bakery and noted it produces fully half of all Hostess products sold in the United States.
“At our first year anniversary on July 15 we marked an exceptionally strong week for sales, with more strong weeks to come,” Mr. Toler said.
He described the many varieties of Twinkie snack cakes made at Emporia and identified the Chocodile as his favorite.
“The Twinkie brand is all about fun,” he said. “When you mention Hostess to people everywhere, it always prompts a smile on their face.”
Kansas governor Sam Brownback, who cut the ribbon with the help of two Emporia employees, Billie Reynolds and Blanca Marquez, described the Twinkie as “an iconic product of Kansas.”
“We are glad to see this plant come back with the reinvestment in the new distribution center and the new Auto-Bake line,” Mr. Brownback said. He praised Hostess for “growing and creating jobs and places for Kansans to do those jobs. You can point to this company and Emporia as putting a twinkle back in your eye.”
On July 19 the city will hold its second annual Twinkie Festival at the Flinthills Mall across the street from the bakery. The event is sponsored by Hostess Brands and marks the second year of its relaunch of Twinkie snack cakes.