‘Gummy expert’ buys Sumter’s Mount Franklin
May 24, 2019
By BRUCE MILLS
The way a corporate executive described it Wednesday, “there’s a little more science to getting those vitamins in there than meets the eye.”
Jill Pergande, chief human resources officer with top-volume gummy producer Santa Cruz Nutritionals, was referencing her company’s recent acquisition of Mount Franklin Nutritionals’ multi-vitamin gummy facility at 2720 Southgate Drive in Live Oak Industrial Park.
California-based Santa Cruz Nutritionals acquired the 100,000-square-foot plant in February after Mount Franklin — a confectionery company out of El Paso, Texas — decided to pull out of the vitamins, minerals and supplements industry market.
Pergande said Mount Franklin’s effort to venture into the growing VMS market in 2017 is common for candy companies that eventually run into difficulties in the market.
While consumer demand for confectionery items, such as jellybeans, has plummeted, demand for gummy vitamins and supplements is soaring, she said.
What separates Santa Cruz from most other gummy contract manufacturers to large brands is its experience and history in the market, according to Pergande.
In 1997, company scientists in research and development created the first-ever multivitamin gummy to hit the market, and Santa Cruz is considered an industry leader in gummy innovation and also taste, according to industry sources. It’s sometimes referred to as “the gummy expert” in the industry.
“With our research and development base and the years of experience that we have,” Pergande said, “we’ve been able to put things together in a way that allows us to have more supplements in the gummy.”
In acquiring the local facility, Santa Cruz retained all 49 Mount Franklin employees, including Plant Manager Michael Barrett, and the manufacturing equipment.
At its four other facilities in the U.S. and Canada, Santa Cruz was already producing millions of gummies a day. Sumter is now its fifth facility, and the manufacturer is looking to ramp up quickly here.
Barrett and Pergande said the plant is looking to add 35 production-level positions for a second shift during the next month and will continue to hire management staff, as well. Open production jobs are available for packagers, machine operators, maintenance technicians and more.
The plan is to bring on an additional 30 workers for a third shift this fall, they said. Then, the facility will operate 24 hours a day, five days a week.
Barrett and Pergande said applicants with Food and Drug Administration experience is helpful but not a necessity. Workers with manufacturing experience is also ideal, but the company has said it will invest in the right people who have the proper skill sets.
Credit: The Sumter Item