Building a better bakery

by Staff
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When building a bakery, which is best — greenfield, brownfield and whitefield sites? Each type of site has pros and cons that must be weighed along with a company’s long-term goals and strategies, said Mike Pierce, president of The Austin Co., a Cleveland-based design, engineering and construction firm. Frank Spano is the managing director of the company’s Austin Consulting division.

Greenfield sites are typically undeveloped, vacant parcels that may be found in locations ranging from planned industrial parks with utilities in place to stand-alone sites.

Greenfield sites may exist in suburban developments or more rural locations. Market growth opportunities of a greenfield site are often appealing, but may pose a challenge if speed to market is critical — as is the case for many bakery operations.

Brownfield sites may be appealing due to their existing infrastructure and facility options. These sites are typically in more urban areas with older, more mature markets. Here, implementation and speed to market can be quick. However, brownfield sites require in-depth due diligence investigation. An existing building that may at first appear to be a golden opportunity may, in reality, be a complex and expensive endeavor.

While some aspects may be proven positives, such as labor availability, utility supplies and community attitudes, others may be much less obvious, such as capacity of the structure to carry suspended utility and equipment loads and sanitary or contamination issues due to the original design, deterioration or lack of maintenance. If a bakery is interested in a brownfield site, Mr. Pierce and Mr. Spano recommended that the company first obtain environmental assessments of the property to ensure that they are not buying someone else’s problem.

Whitefield sites, while not yet a common industry term, are existing pre-developed sites with basic infrastructure. These sites may contain a building shell, such as one used as a freezer warehouse, or a shell not yet used at all. They may be desirable to bakeries because the infrastructure exists. They may be developed more quickly, and there is also less risk of potential contaminants often found in brownfield sites. On the possible downside, these “shells” also may not be capable of much in the way of structural and utility capacities.

Mr. Pierce and Mr. Spano noted that understanding your goals and what needs to be accomplished will aid in determining which type of site is best suited for the facility project. For more information on site selection, check out the September issue of Baking & Snack magazine.
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