Why Good Enough is Not Enough for SugarCreek
In anticipation of celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary, SugarCreek has plans to move its headquarters from Washington Court House, Ohio, to a new 170,000-square-foot building in Fairfield, Ohio, complete with a Culinary Innovation Center, and opened a new 418,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Cambridge City, Ind. (CLICK HERE to take a tour of SugarCreek's new sous vide plant).
But, what separates this producer of ready-to-eat product lines from the pack is its ability to plan for the future. That’s why Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ named SugarCreek as its 2016 Refrigerated Foods Processor of the Year.
Bacon makes everything better
SugarCreek was founded in 1966 by John S. Richardson as a manufacturer of raw bacon. Today, nearly half a century later and under the leadership of his son, John G. Richardson, chairman and CEO, the company “has grown into a diversified, innovative and extraordinarily flexible food manufacturer with six major facilities,” says John G.
SugarCreek provides a wide range of value-added raw and fully-cooked products for domestic and international customers out of its six SQF 3-certified facilities—Washington Court House and Dayton, Ohio; Frontenac, Kan.; the newest one in Cambridge City, Ind.; and two in Cincinnati. All plants are equipped with high-tech equipment such as laser sorting, vision slicer technology, extrusion, vacuum and gas-flushed packaging, with the Cambridge City site implementing the Internet of Things (IoT).
Come the New Year, the headquarters will also be home to a new Culinary Innovation Center that features two test kitchens and a USDA-certified research and development lab. The recently renovated frozen distribution center will comprise of both refrigerated and frozen warehouse space as well as food processing and packaging production halls. The new 6,600-square-foot kitchen area will assist culinary chefs and R&D product developers in creating food products that are more scalable to a manufacturing environment, says John G., and will enable SugarCreek to present new capabilities and fresh ideas.
“Sous vide brings many benefits to the table,” says John G. “The centuries-old cooking method allows for lower cooking temperatures translating to more precise treatment of proteins. Tenderness and yield are optimized while flavor and aroma are vastly improved. Because proteins are cooking in their own juices, the nutritional value is maintained at a higher level while achieving the highest level of food safety. Best of all, it offers a greatly extended shelf life for products that are, essentially, chef-cooked.”
Meanwhile, the company’s new 418,000-square-foot Cambridge City facility is said to be one of the nation’s first commercial-scale sous vide operation.
SugarCreek purchased the then 78,000-square-foot facility in 2012 from Really Cool Foods, an organic prepared foods manufacturer. Shortly thereafter, SugarCreek acquired 90 acres east of the plant, added on 340,000 square feet, including new drains, a 70,000-gallon pit, three dissolved air flotation systems, one micro system, a 250,000-gallon equalization tank, a walk-on ceiling, catwalks and mezzanines and the ability to produce 4 million pounds of product a week.
“Reinvesting in the company and the communities we live in is one of our top priorities,” says John G. “The existing Really Cool Foods building was a centrally located facility with adjoining land that allowed us to expand to meet customer needs while bringing hundreds of jobs to the area. We feel the new facility will be a game-changer for SugarCreek, as it allows us to offer the nation’s largest and first commercial-scale sous vide line. It will also feature two additional cooking halls, allowing us to expand our meatball production as well as explore other protein partnerships.”
SugarCreek is in a period of rapid growth, according to John G., thanks to new and expanded facilities, additional market categories and state-of-the-art equipment and technology.
“As a privately owned company, we will continue to offer the flexibility that our competitors cannot, allowing us to increase variety in offerings and meet consumer demands,” he adds. “By 2020, we expect to become a $1 billion company.”
HEADQUARTERS: Fairfield, Ohio
TOP EXECUTIVE: John G. Richardson, chairman and CEO
DISTRIBUTION: Domestic, International
NO. OF EMPLOYEES: 1,700 company-wide
ANNUAL SALES: $600-650 million
SugarCreek Shows off Food Offerings in Custom-Built Food Truck
Folks from SugarCreek, Fairfield, Ohio, don’t just attend food industry tradeshows. Instead, they hop on the company’s 20-foot-long, 8-foot-high, custom-built food truck.
The back door opens vertically to showcase a 55-inch stainless-steel gas grill, while the passenger side doors boast a hydraulic lift to reveal a large wok, smoker, 3-burner stove and a deep fryer for food presentations. An 80-inch flat-screen TV mounted above the grill displays cooking demos.