CHELSEA, MICH. — Chelsea Milling Co., maker of Jiffy Mix baking mixes, is moving ahead with plans to spend $35 million as part of an expansion that includes the addition of a new mixing tower.
Plans for the expansion first surfaced in June 2013, when Chelsea Milling received preliminary approval from the city of Chelsea’s planning commission to add space to handle larger bags and boxes of Jiffy Mix products. At that time, Howdy Holmes, chief executive officer of Chelsea Milling, said the expansion reflected the company’s move to build its presence in the food service and institutional markets.
Now, Mr. Holmes said construction is under way on the tower, which will allow Chelsea Milling to increase its capacity “by 5 times.” The building is expected to be operational by early 2017, he said.
The new equipment will be more automated and will allow more production with fewer employees, Mr. Holmes said.
“Between 2006 and 2018 we realized we would have significant retirements,” Mr. Holmes said. “We chose to do a major expansion into other channels of distribution because we knew the facilities and systems we’d require would be more technology and less people centric. It just made a lot of sense to time these things — natural retirements with business management.”
The company’s workforce will decline to about 240 employees from 315, Mr. Holmes said, but he added that the company will continue to see a need for new skills and people.
“The transition is from an older workforce from a focused manufacturing environment into a different skillset in a flexible environment,” he said.
In addition to a new mixing tower, the $35 million expansion includes a new packaging facility and an additional support building, the company said.
Chelsea Milling Co. was established in 1901 as a traditional flour mill. By early 1930 the company had expanded into the retail prepared baking mix market with its first Jiffy Mix product. Today, Jiffy is the market share leader in retail prepared muffin mixes. In addition to its retail products, Chelsea Milling produces mixes for the food service and institutional markets.