GLENVILLE – BelGioioso Cheese is setting up a cold-storage warehouse to improve distribution efficiencies at its new Glenville plant, where production has tripled since it began in May 2020.
The $6 million project is expected to take about a year, and will allow the company to further expand production.
Deciding to build its first plant outside Wisconsin, the cheesemaker received support from the city and county and financial incentives from the state when it chose Glanville. It purchased 40 acres and three structures on Route 5 in Glenville Business and Technology Park.
The plant employs about 60 people and can process 1 million pounds of milk per day into mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Nearby land is available for expansion of the plant if it maximizes production.
The problem is that there is only 12,000 square feet of cold storage in a 100,000-square-foot plant.
“We have the capacity at the plant currently, we have room to expand,” said Tim Cronin, Bellagioso’s Northeast general manager. “So we have no constraints on growing there, but our immediate constraints were on cold storage/distribution – 12,000 square feet turned out to be too tight.”
The new cold-storage warehouse will occupy one of the World War II-era warehouses left over from the business park’s original incarnation as a US Navy supply depot.
Cronin said the exterior is rough, but the building is very solid. Considering all the tradeoffs – the time and expense of demolition and new construction versus the cost of remodeling the existing structure – the company decided to refurbish what was already there.
“These buildings were built very strongly,” he said. Plus, the company already owns them.
Half the 120,000-square-foot Building 403 will now be converted, with the other half awaiting future reuse, as will two identical buildings. The company expects to be done with the project and begin its use by the end of 2022. It hopes to expand its workforce to 10 people when the work is completed.
The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, which originally sold 40 acres of land to Bellagioso, has exempted the company from sales tax on materials needed for the conversion project, which is being carried out by Leches Construction and is estimated to cost $6 million. Is.
Cronin said the company was able to significantly increase production at the Glenville plant in 19 months, even as it had to navigate the upheaval created by COVID, with some farmers dumping milk in 2020 and Plowed under crops because their markets had suddenly changed. dramatically.
Per capita consumption of Italian cheese continues to rise in the United States, Cronin explained, but the details were complicated — commercial sales fell and retail sales boomed as Americans stopped eating and started cooking at home, Then it shifted back as restaurants and institutional food started up again.
With minimal effort, the Glanville plant can switch its packaging from one market to another – packages as small as 8 ounces for individual consumers, as large as 30 pounds for institutional customers – so it is able to keep both markets satisfied. Was.
“We have maintained 100% fulfillment through 2021, which we are very proud of,” Cronin said.
BelGioioso established operations in the region in 2011, when it purchased Capiello Dairy in Schenectady. It said at the time it was interested in acquiring an authentic cheesemaker founded 90 years ago by an Italian immigrant, but the deal had the added benefit of bringing a company based in the US agricultural region closer to the lucrative Northeast market.
BelGioiosi continued to operate the Cappiello plant on Van Geisling Avenue for several years as it planned and built the plant in Glenville at a cost of $30 million.
BelGioioso still owns the Schenectady plant, but uses it only for storage. The brand lives on, though: The Glenville facility is named today The Capiello Plant, and packages its products under four names: Capiello, Bellagioso, Market 32 by Bellagioso and Casaro.
BelGioioso makes 30 varieties of Italian cheese but each of its ten plants specializes in only a few varieties. Glenville’s specialty is mozzarella, fresh mozzarella and ricotta in many variations.
As Bellagioso nears the ten-year mark in Schenectady County, Cronin said it has found two major benefits here: its employees and the farmers who milk it.
“Great people make great cheese, great milk make great cheese,” he said.
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