Call it a sweet surprise for the Town of Tonawanda.
Often, when a local company is swallowed up by another out-of-town one, the acquiring company closes down local operations and absorbs them elsewhere. But two years after local candy manufacturer Tzetzo Brothers was acquired by Virginia-based Wythe Will Distributing, the company is expanding its local operations here and hiring more workers.
Wythe Will Tzetzo Confections and Specialty Foods will build a $17 million production and warehouse facility in the Town of Tonawanda’s North Youngmann Commerce Center, which is being developed by Zaepfel Development Co. The company hopes to break ground Nov. 1 on the 310,000-square-foot facility, which will be located on roughly 25 acres of the commerce park’s east end.
The company had outgrown its Military Road facility in Tonawanda.
“We’ve had to rob Peter to pay Paul, borrowing from the warehouse space to expand production, but there’s no more warehouse space to borrow,” said Gordon Angles, the company’s CEO.
Wythe Will Tzetzo recently added two new packing lines at the existing facility, is currently adding a third robotic packing system and will add even more packing machinery in October and December as it waits for the new building to be built.
The company said it looked at space in enterprise zones in Virginia, as well as other sites in the Buffalo area, before settling on the business park planned for Two Mile Creek Road, adjacent to the Youngmann Memorial Highway.
“At the end of the day we have a very valuable base of trained employees in Buffalo,” Angles said. “We have machine operators, mechanics; really top employees that may have moved with us or may not have.”
It was also important for the company to stay close to some of its major customers, including Tops Markets and Wegmans, Angles said.
It settled on the Youngmann site specifically because of its proximity to its existing facility and to bus lines, which many of its employees rely on to get to work.
The company attributed its growth to new private-label clients and growing sales at Wegmans stores.
Wythe Will Tzetzo makes private-label and branded candies, snacks and gourmet food for theme parks, supermarkets, gourmet food stores and specialty shops, as well as 7-Eleven convenience stores and Dollar General. It was founded in Toano, Va., where it is now headquartered. The company has a total of 500 employees, 165 of whom work at the Tonawanda plant. It has another location in Lebanon, Tenn., which almost exclusively services two retail clients: Bed, Bath and Beyond and Cracker Barrel. It also recently acquired the Garvey Nut & Candy Co. in California.
Wythe Will Tzetzo, which expects to add 25 new employees over the next few years, plans to seek roughly $100,000 in incentives from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and roughly $4 million in tax abatements over 10 years from the Empire State Development Corp.
The town will build $2 million in road infrastructure to the property within the next three weeks.
The park itself totals 90 acres, 75 of which will be developable.
“We expected it to be developed five or 10 acres at a time, so you can imagine how excited we are to get a 25-acre property right out of the chute,” said Joe Emminger, deputy supervisor for the Town of Tonawanda and a member of the Economic Development Committee.