Launching New Products in Just Nine Months

Meijer value created

Meijer, a pioneer in the combined grocery and department store concept, opened their first superstore in 1962 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Today they have more than 200 locations located throughout the Midwest. Their stores average up to 250,000 square feet. Meijer, a family owned business, has consistently led the industry by being recognized as leaders in understanding and offering high quality foods and produce.

In 2014, Meijer began construction on a new Meijer’s Purple Cow Creamery in southwest Ohio. This 105,000 square foot dairy production and refrigerated warehouse was built near the 1.7 million square foot Meijer Distribution Center to optimize delivery to stores located throughout the Midwest.

The Meijer’s Purple Cow Creamery faced the difficult challenge of launching live culture products using specialized processes. To do so they needed to create over 30 SKU’s (stockkeeping unit) in an extremely short time frame. Meijer reached out to CIFT for expertise to scale up and develop the production operating procedures and quality control requirements for launching new products in nine months.

Partnering with CIFT/Ohio MEP helped meet tight deadlines and created over 30 new SKU’s.

The experienced CIFT team quickly began to address equipment capabilities and set realistic launch dates. Working tirelessly, the team began product startups within just three months, and continued to launching new products in just nine months.

When the project completed the economic impact was substantial. Meijer had increased/retained sales of more than $3.8 million as well as new investments exceeding $4 million. The Meijer/CIFT partnership also resulted in savings of more than $12,000 and five new jobs.

Taking It To The Next Level

Guac Shop value created

Guac Shop, founded by Danielle Arbinger, makes four delicious and unique styles of guacamole. Danielle had been making her special guacamole for friends and family for years, and always dreamed of taking it to the next level. But when she entered her product into the Franklin Park Kiosk Competition and won first prize (valued at $20,000 dollars) she knew Guac Shop was ready to take the next step.

But to scale up, Guac Shop had to solve two difficult and expensive problems. The first problem was how to ramp up production. To do so would require significant investment and expense. And the second issue was how to increase the shelf life of the product to make it viable for selling in retail outlets.

And this is where CIFT and our NOCK facility was able to step in and help the Guac Shop solve these issues and help propel their business forward.

“I am so thankful to CIFT. With their help, I was able to start Guac Shop and scale up at warp speed. The facilities, equipment, guidance and connections I’ve made there have been invaluable to my business.” – Danielle Arbinger, President and Founder of The Guac Shop

CIFT was able to move them into our production facility in Bowling Green, Ohio. Because CIFT is both an incubator and a nonprofit,  Guac Shop was able to do so without having to invest in costly equipment or a more expensive rental of a industrial production facility. Utilizing our facility and equipment, along with guidance from our expert team, allowed them to quickly ramp up production.

But Guac Shop still had the problem of increasing the shelf life of their delicious product. The guacamole at that point has a shelf life of only seven days, which would not be enough to get the product stocked at retail outlets and grocery stores. By working with our team and our network connections at OSU, Guac Shop was able to switch to a HPP process for refrigerated products. This increased their shelf life from seven to over sixty days.

With these problems solved through partnering with our team at CIFT, Guac Shop is now taking it to the next level and selling their product at outlets like Walt Churchills Markets and Kazmaiers Market among others. Working with CIFT also saved them $240,000 in investment costs, and an increase in sales of $10,000. Guac Ghop was also able to create and retain 5 jobs, and due to growth make an additional $21,000 in new investments. Working together with our team, Danielle and Guac Shop had truly taken it to the next level.

View a list of all NOCK processors.

CIFT Membership Consortium Delivers Value

membership value created

The CIFT membership consortium is one of the pillar’s of the organization and the core component of industry engagement.

The goal of the CIFT membership consortium, which is comprised of food industry businesses, suppliers, and academic institutions, is to enhance the economic viability of Ohio’s food and agricultural sector through advanced technology, research projects and job creation. Over the years many companies have quickly learned of the benefits of a membership.

Southwest Ohio based Synergy Flavors, located in Hamilton, Ohio (Butler County), is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of flavorings, extracts and essences for the food and beverage industries.

Their capabilities span the globe – not only with three manufacturing and technical support facilities in the U.S., but also locations in Brazil, Ireland, U.K., and Thailand. As a result of the CIFT membership consortium alone, Synergy has increased their product/process investment by more than $25,000, added jobs, and enjoyed several thousands in savings along the way.

“We have been very pleased with our investment in a membership, as CIFT can provide specific services not readily available from other providers,” stated Dr. Youngmok Kim, senior research scientist, Synergy. “We look forward to working with CIFT for years to come.”

CIFT member, Willy’s Fresh Salsa, is a manufacturer of seven flavors of fresh salsa found in thousands of stores nationwide. Looking to expand their retail options, the salsa maker sought to achieve the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global

Food Safety Initiative Certification, known in the food manufacturing industry as a leading global quality and food safety certification program.

The Swanton, Ohio based company, employers of more than 30 people, utilized their CIFT membership consortium by seeking assistance from CIFT, along with Savour Food Safety International (to assist with developing, coaching, training and implementation of the food safety and quality programs) and Richter International (for process authority assistance).

The BRC certification was accomplished in their first attempt – a rare feat for most small business food companies – and the AA grade received was the highest mark possible.

“The results of this initial audit exemplify the commitment and dedication of the entire team at Willy’s to making safe, delicious, fresh salsa while maintaining world class quality and service,” said David Cole, COO/CIO, Willy’s Fresh Salsa. “We are very excited for what lies ahead.”

Willy’s Fresh Salsa was able to hire 15 full and part-time employees for additional sales volume, and the company invested more than $1,000,000 in equipment and upgrades to the facility. The BRC certification also opens the door to private label and co-packing opportunities that were not possible to explore before certification.

This milestone for the company lends the strong possibility to adding more jobs as distribution grows. Increased annual revenue is projected to exceed more than $4,000,000.

With an international office in the U.K., the Grote Company’s corporate headquarters are located in Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County).

They are one of the leading manufacturers of top-quality food slicing and assembly equipment for pizza and sandwich restaurants. Grote sought a CIFT membership consortium because of the staff’s reputation for providing solid expertise to the food industry.

The membership has paid off.

Grote has seen an increase in sales of more than $500,000, and cost savings of more than $60,000. New jobs have been added as well.

“As we look to innovate and add new technology to benefit our customers, we are very pleased with the results of our CIFT membership and look forward to continuing the partnership,” stated Bob Grote, CEO, Grote Company.

CIFT members work with some of the largest accounts in the world.

Members have been at the forefront of advancing technology, demonstrating prototypes, and evaluating innovative technologies which has lead to commercialization activities and economic growth for processors.

View a full list of all our members.

Food Safety Compliance Leads to Revenue

Amish Wedding Foods value created

Amish Wedding Foods, operating in the center of Holmes County in beautiful Millersburg, Ohio, produces a wide variety of products including pickled vegetables, spreads and sauces, pie fillings, salsas, and jams. Their traditional Amish recipes and commitment to quality makes them a favorite in both the retail and private-label spaces. They operate two production facilities, one that produces canned products, and a second which repackages candy/snack items, cuts/ repackages cheeses, and produces a peanut butter spread.

In order to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), as well as to continue their commitment to producing high-quality and safe food, Amish Wedding Foods decided to invest in CIFT food safety compliance services to improve all aspects of their food safety program.

With the changes in regulation, many companies were forced to re-evaluate their current food safety plans, and create or revise programs and policies.

Due to their large number of product lines, Amish Wedding Foods requires multiple food safety plans, each customized to certain products, equipment, and environments in each production facility. CIFT has significant experience in developing food safety documentation for a large variety of situations, and was able to provide expertise on guidance on the creation of each plan.

“The team that I collaborated with were extremely helpful and knowledgeable. At no time have I felt rushed during the project and the team worked well together, which took a lot of stress off me.” – Keith Hoyt, Quality & Food Safety Compliance Manager, Amish Wedding Foods

CIFT worked with Savour Food Safety International to provide training to Amish Wedding Foods on the requirements of the FDA’s Preventative Controls for Human Foods regulations, and provide guidance through the process of updating their hazard analyses and developing food safety plans to comply with FSMA. CIFT and partners worked alongside Amish Wedding Foods on their food safety plans, including background information, hazard analyses, preventive controls, process monitoring, verification, record-keeping protocols, corrective actions, cGMP programs, and recall plans.

Finding Success Through Implementing Lean Manufacturing

Verhoff value created

Verhoff Machining & Welding, Inc. is a family owned operation employing 120 dedicated staff. Located in Continental, Ohio, Verhoff services the agriculture industry, industrial manufacturing, heavy equipment and military industries. The company experienced a significant reduction in sales to the defense supply chain, and needed core strengthening of the manufacturing operations and decided that implementing lean manufacturing would benefit them the most.

Implementing lean manufacturing, also known as continuous improvement, helps to restructure workflow which saves time and money, allowing manufacturers to reduce their wasted time and effort.

The company reached out to CIFT, a regional Ohio Manufacturing Partnership (MEP) partner to implement the lean program. The assistance of CIFT/Ohio MEP proved to be critical to the program’s success.

To help Verhoff with their key areas of improvement, CIFT provided the “on-site” process education and “hands-on” shop floor experience and implementation of lean principles and techniques. The program’s implementation of lean manufacturing is projected to result in 165 jobs retained or created, and a potential revenue of more than $13,000,000 on an annual basis.

The cost savings from incorporating the lean program is estimated to be more than $58,800.

In addition to increased sales and jobs, Verhoff was able to purchase $725,400 worth of new investments.

“The program was a much needed resource to help elevate our company to meet the needs of the workload,” said Barb Rieman, accounting and human resources, Verhoff

This project was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment through a grant managed by The Ohio State University. To learn more how Ohio MEP and implementing lean manufacturing can help your company, please contact us through our website.

Bringing Sloppy Joe Dream to Full Production

brickyard value created

What started out as a humble sloppy joe recipe dream created by Don Hill Jr.’s grandmother in the 1960’s quickly became a regional full production success now found in mega-retail stores such as Walmart and Kroger.

Hill’s idea for Brickyard Sloppy Joe Sauce started when he was serving in Marine combat in Afghanistan for the U.S. Navy. He was eating military-issued sloppy joes and longing for the taste of home.

When he returned from active duty, Hill and his mother wondered if they could take their sauce and make it commercially available in hopes of bringing their sloppy joe dream to full production.

In 2012, Hill took the spirit of his beloved grandmother’s recipe to the CIFT-managed Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK) and began commercially processing under the company name, Traditions Sauces.

donald hill brickyard sloppy joe sauce

The NOCK provides an affordable venue in which to develop a concept into a commercially viable food product. The commercial kitchen facility combines business and technical assistance with production equipment to bridge the gap between an idea and reality.

The ability to network with other entrepreneurs, access information and take advantage of production capacity – all in one spot – minimizes the risk for a new food business venture.

Utilizing the NOCK for handling product, storage, and an use-as-needed agreement has saved their company more than $585,000 over the years.

“Our ability to manufacture at [NOCK] is priceless,” said Hill Jr. “Specifically for any startup business, the training, the guidelines, the people who work with you to walk you through the steps and any changes in the industry, it keeps us relevant in the market.”

As a result of using NOCK’s small business services, Traditions Sauces purchased a food truck to incorporate their well-known sauces into food menu items. This addition alone will add four part-time jobs and an increase in annual revenue of $25,000. The company is also launching a creamy white sauce for potato salads, coleslaws, and other dishes.

Because of their continual support toward Ohio, including the support of local ingredients for their sauces, Traditions Sauces received the CIFT Excellence Award in 2017 in recognition of their exceptional achievement in the development of the company and their contribution to the food industry in the state.

Randall Bearings enjoys flawless ISO 9001:2015 certification

Randall Bearings, Inc. specializes in custom bronze machined parts and offers a full line of cast bronze bushings, pillow blocks, continuous cast solid and tubular bronze bars. The company is a global supplier of components to the oil and gas, construction and mining, fluid control, agricultural, transportation and construction industries.Randall Bearings sought the expertise of Rhodes State College’s Workforce Economic Development and Continuing Education (WEDCE) team to assist with their internal auditing needs, and to upgrade the company to the new ISO 9001:2015 standard certification.

More than 130 employees are spread across their corporate headquarters and machining facility in Lima, Ohio (Allen County) and a second facility in Coldwater, Ohio (Mercer County).

Through employee training programs, consulting engagements and professional development offerings, WEDCE helps individuals enhance their contribution to the workplace and assists organizations to improve their ability to achieve the results they desire.

Rhodes State’s WEDCE serves as a satellite office for the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). The Ohio MEP is a regional effort coordinated by CIFT which delivers valuable services to manufacturers within an 18 county territory.

Randall Bearings was eager for the new upgrade in certification as more than 80 percent of their customers require the ISO 9001:2015 certification. WEDCE guided Randall Bearings through the process, providing expert resources to allow a successful transition audit. Not only did the company pass their upgrade audit, but
they did so with zero citations.

The impact for Randall Bearings was huge. This project maintained all 130 job throughout the company.

“I personally want to thank WEDCE for the continued support,” said Billy Mosley, quality manager, Randall Bearings. “Working with them helped us achieve our very important ISO 9001-2015 certification. It was a wonderful experience. Our auditor spent a great amount of time looking at our entire operation. He was very impressed with our company and how our Quality Management System was structured. The communication between our two sites was assessed as a great example of a well-managed operation. We thank WEDCE for all they did and would highly recommend their services to any company.”

Willy’s Fresh Salsa rapid growth sparked by BRC certification

willys value created

CIFT member, Willy’s Fresh Salsa, is a manufacturer of seven flavors of fresh salsa found in thousands of stores nationwide. Looking to achieve growth  in their retail options, the salsa maker sought to achieve the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Food Safety Initiative Certification, known in the food manufacturing industry as a leading global quality and food safety certification program.

The Swanton, Ohio based company, employers of more than 30 people, utilized their CIFT membership by seeking assistance from Shari Plimpton, Ph.D., vice president and director of food industry programs, and Stacy Vernon, project manager, to achieve the certification. Dr. Plimpton and Vernon also included CIFT member Matrix Sciences (formally Savour Food Safety and Richter International) to assist with process authority review, and developing, coaching, training and implementation of the food safety and quality programs to the BRC standard

The BRC certification was accomplished in their first attempt – a rare feat for most small business food companies – and the AA grade received was the highest mark possible.

“The results of this initial audit exemplify the commitment and dedication of the entire team at Willy’s to making safe, delicious, fresh salsa while maintaining world class quality and service. We are very excited for what lies ahead.” – David Cole, COO/CIO, Willy’s Fresh Salsa

Achieving such certification assures customers, retail stores, brokers and other parties that they are dealing with a company that is monitoring and continually improving product quality and safety as well as ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and governmental regulations.

The certification has other substantial benefits as Willy’s Fresh Salsa was able to hire 15 full and part-time employees for additional sales volume, and the company invested more than $1,000,000 in equipment and upgrades to the facility. The BRC certification also opens the door to private label and co-packing opportunities that were not possible to explore before certification.

This milestone for the company lends the strong possibility to adding more than 10 jobs over the next several months as distribution grows. Increased annual revenue is projected to exceed more than $4,000,000 this year.