Golden opportunity

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, June 30, 2011

Alabama Development Office Director Seth Hammett, right, presents a plaque with the seal of Alabama to Richard Harris, president of Golden Boy Foods, during a ceremony to announce Golden Boy Foods as a new business in Troy, Ala., Thursday, June 30, 2011. The peanut butter manufacturing plant will bring 130 jobs to Troy. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Golden Boy Foods to open in Troy

The City of Troy officially welcomed the new industry in true Southern fashion Thursday morning as Shelia Jackson sang “O Canada” and the National Anthem of the United States of America and the flags of each symbolized the relationship that brought Golden Boy Foods to Troy.

Richard Harris, president and CEO of Golden Boy Foods, said that when his company began to look for a site for the new plant, they looked toward the Southeastern states where peanuts are plentiful. The search focused primarily on Alabama and Georgia and later narrowed to Troy and a site in metro Atlanta.

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Two things tipped the scales to Troy, Harris said, relationships and leadership.

“Troy stood out as the most favorable climate for our business,” Harris said. “Troy was the place in which we received the warmest welcome. We had confidence in the solid foundation of leadership that we found in Troy — the kind of leadership that helps businesses succeed. We had confidence in the relationships with the people. “

Amid a ceremony with state and local officials, the company on Thursday confirmed plans to open a new manufacturing plant at the former Campbell Enterprises building off Henderson Highway.

Golden Boy Foods is a Canadian company, which is among the leading suppliers of organic and conventional, store brand peanut butter and nut butter, as well as a premier supplier of all kinds of nut and dried fruit products for snacking and baking.

The company supplies 20 of the top 30 retailers in North America, as well as leading food service organizations and major food processors.

Other Golden Boy Food locations are in Washington state and Ontario and British Columbia, Canada.

The company estimates that 65-75 jobs will be created at the plant by the middle of 2012 and a total of 130 jobs will be created by the middle of 2013“At the other location, we would have been a small company in a big place with less visibility. But, in the end, it came down to the people and to the leadership of Mayor Jimmy Lunsford and the EDC President Marsha Gaylard who have proven leadership. It came down to the cohesion we found here – the team here in Troy.”

Another factor that weighed in the decision was the adaptability of the facility for expansion.

When asked if expansion plans are already on the table, Harris answered with a smile, “Faster is better.”

Harris expressed “delight” to be joining the successful community of Troy businesses and families.

“We are extremely happy to be here,” he said. “It feels like we are going back to the beginning. We feel like we are at home and we are confident that the strong foundation of leadership will still be here.”

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said that confidence in leadership is vital to successful business communities.

“My philosophy, the Alabama philosophy is, when you tell a man something, you don’t have to write it down,” he said. “When I tell someone what we will do, it’s what we will do. Today is a great day for Troy, Pike County and Alabama as we welcome Golden Boy Foods to Troy.”

Lunsford said that Golden Boy Foods will have a great impact on the local economy in the jobs that it will provide and the area businesses that will benefit.

“Golden Boy Foods brings so many possibilities to the area,” he said. “To the peanut growers, the shellers and the sellers, to the container industry and to the trucking industry.”

At full production, Golden Boy Foods will produce 100 million containers of peanut butter annually.

ADO Director Seth Hammett said, too, that Golden Boy Foods will have a trickle-down effect to other businesses and its presence could “crank back up’ a local shelling plant.

Hammett presented Harris a decorative seal of Alabama and expressed confidence that Golden Boy Foods will be proud of its decision to locate in Troy.

“We’ve got the kind of workers that will make your company successful,” he said. “We are proud to have Golden Boy Foods as part of the Alabama family. Welcome to ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’”