Modesto bakery looks to add employees

10/22/2013 8:28 PM

10/22/2013 8:29 PM

Those Sara Lee rolls and hot dog and hamburger buns sold at the grocery store have been made right here in Modesto for the past few months. In fact, Flowers Baking Co. of Modesto produces every Sara Lee roll and bun sold in California. Its nearly 100 employees can produce 800 buns per minute and are working three shifts a day to meet demand.

Now, Flowers Baking Co. is working to add a second production line, which is expected to open in February. The expansion eventually could double the number of Flowers employees at its Mariposa Avenue bakery and help its parent company, Georgia-based Flowers Foods, continue to make inroads in California.

“We’re excited about bringing Flowers Baking Co. into California and our brands that have been very successful to give consumers another option with bread and roll products,” Flowers Baking Co. of Modesto President Tom Wilson said.

Flowers Foods is the second-largest baker in the United States, with 45 bakeries in 15 states and sales of more than $3 billion, according to Keith Hancock, the firm’s managing director of communications. The Modesto plant is its only California bakery, though some of its products sold in California are produced at two Arizona bakeries.

Hancock said Flowers Foods acquired the assets of Fresh Start Bakeries in Modesto from Aryzta. Hancock said Flowers was looking for production capacity in the state after it acquired the California distribution rights for Sara Lee breads, buns and rolls. Most of Flowers’ workers are former Fresh Start workers.

Wilson said the Modesto bakery is ideal because Fresh Start’s production methods were similar to Flowers’ and Modesto is centrally located for distributing goods throughout the state.

Hancock and Wilson declined to say what would be produced on the second production line, saying they did not want to provide that information to competitors.

Flowers Foods also has acquired the California distribution rights for Hostess Brands’ Wonder Bread and Nature’s Pride. Flowers Foods also has its own bread line called Nature’s Own. He said Nature’s Own has been sold in Southern California for several years and was introduced in Northern California in July.

Wilson said how quickly and how many employees the bakery adds for the second production line depends upon consumer demand. “We could double the number (of employees),” he said. “That’s a possibility depending upon market demand.”

He declined to provide specifics but said Flowers Foods provides a competitive wage and benefits package for its employees. Those interested in applying for jobs for the second production line should not call or visit the bakery. Instead, they should check for job announcements on the company’s website, flowersfoods.com.

Flowers Baking Co. of Modesto is using a city program that will let it buy the additional wastewater capacity it needs for $160,255, about a $50,000 savings. Flowers will pay monthly charges for its wastewater use.

The City Council approved the sale of the additional wastewater capacity at its Tuesday meeting. Modesto, Stanislaus County and the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance worked with Flowers Baking Co. of Modesto on its expansion.

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