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State and local officials gathered Tuesday afternoon to welcome Litehouse Inc. to Danville, where the Idaho-based food processing company will operate its first East Coast production facility.
The facility is located at 145 Cane Creek Blvd. in the Airside Industrial Park and formerly was home to Sky Valley Foods, which Litehouse acquired on May 31. At this facility, Litehouse is investing $46 million to produce shelf-stable dressings, condiments, and sauces under the Organicville and Sky Valley labels and refrigerated salad dressings, cheeses, dips and, sauces, apple cider and freeze-dried herbs under the Litehouse label.
Also, Litehouse is retaining the 40-50 former Sky Valley Foods workers and expects to provide a total of 160 jobs over the next five years.
However, Mayor Alonzo Jones, speaking at the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, said the excitement over Litehouse’s arrival in Danville goes beyond the number of jobs and the investment that the company is making.
“The story of Litehouse is one of faith, and that faith served as a beacon for the company in its humble beginning more than 50 years ago,” Jones said. “Through faith came the principle of perseverance. Through faith came the principle of leadership. And through faith, came the principle of service. These principles continue to guide the company today.”
Jones said Litehouse is a truly unique company that has a strong reputation for corporate citizenship and being an active member of its communities. “We believe Litehouse will become an employer of choice in the community,” he said.
Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball said Litehouse sets a high bar for corporate responsibility because the company is 100 percent employee-owned.
“It’s an honor to be here to officially open the company’s new facility,” Ball said. “This project is a strong testament to the commonwealth’s exceptional logistics as a strategic East Coast location that easily allows companies to connect to domestic and international markets.”
He added, “More importantly, it is a huge testament to all of you here today that this wonderful company picked this wonderful city for its East Coast location.”
Litehouse acquired the manufacturing facility and substantially all of the assets of Sky Valley Foods in a deal that closed on May 31.
Kelly Prior, Litehouse president, explained how the two companies came together.
“Litehouse has always believed in better-for-you products,” Prior said. “Our retail products are based with canola oil, which a better-for-you oil. We also do not add preservatives to our core products. …. Litehouse was in need of production capabilities in the southeast. And when we looked at the better-for-you positioning that Sky Valley had in its brands, we thought it was a great alignment for us.”
Litehouse also was familiar with Sky Valley Foods having worked with the company when it was known as Wizard’s Cauldron and operated in Yanceyville, N.C. Sky Valley Foods was formed through the combining of Wizard's Cauldron and Organicville Foods, and in 2014 announced its move to from Yanceyville to Danville.
Litehouse is a leader in the refrigerated section of the produce and deli departments, and it had been looking to offer products that could be sold in the center aisles of the grocery store. The acquisition of Sky Valley Foods added center-store, clean, organic products to the Litehouse portfolio.
In addition to general retail, Litehouse offers its diverse portfolio of products through e-commerce, foodservice, deli, member stores, and value-added goods where Litehouse products are featured in meal and salad kits.
The 132,000 square-foot Danville facility also expands Litehouse's manufacturing presence on the East Coast to better serve its customers and support its double-digit year-over-year growth across the U.S. and Canada.
Brent Carr, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Litehouse, said equipment would be brought to Danville from the company’s Lowell, Mich., plant, which is “bursting at the seams.” How quickly the company hires new employees in Danville depends on when refrigeration equipment for dressings and sauces arrives, he said.
The jobs will include entry-level positions and management-level roles requiring previous operational and technical experience.
Available positions will be posted at Litehouse’s website at www.litehousefoods.com.
The company also operates plants in Idaho and Utah.