Mrs. Gerry’s gets out the shovels

Published 11:09 am Thursday, April 19, 2012

City and business officials, along with officials from Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen, broke ground Wednesday for a new 37,000-square foot expansion at the facility.

The expansion will increase the size of the plant’s existing 85,000-square feet, to make way for new potato processing equipment, a larger finished goods cooler and freezer storage, and increased production area.

The project is estimated to be completed in December.

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“We’re very excited,” said Chad Vogt, purchasing manager. “It was a great day, a lot of activity.”

A long line of officials with the city, chamber of commerce and Mrs. Gerry’s turn over soil with their shovels during a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday. -- Submitted

Mrs. Gerry’s, a privately held, Albert Lea-based company, supplies more than 100 varieties of salads, dips, entrees and mashed potatoes to retail and food service customers in 17 states.

Its line of salads and mashed potatoes continue to grow steadily each year, with especially large increases in the sales of the mashed potatoes.

“We’re expanding now because of capacity issues,” Vogt said. “We need to expand our potato processing lines.”

He said in 2007 and 2008, the company had looked at expanding in a different community, but ultimately it decided to move forward with the project in Albert Lea.

“We see the value of being here in Albert Lea and southern Minnesota,” he said.

The company, which already employs 140 employees, anticipates hiring five to 10 additional employees because of the project.

The company started in December 1973 with owners Gerry and Jerry Vogt in a 1,100-square foot building. That first year the company produced 70,000 pounds of three salads.

The production volume has since increased to roughly 25 million pounds per year.

The facility is at 2110 Y.H. Hanson Ave.