HERMON — For decades, Bakewell Cream has been a staple in kitchens throughout America.
Now the gluten-free leavening agent now has a new home at 30 Liberty Drive — and a grand-opening will be held Friday, Sept. 14.
Jim Collins of Hampden moved his specialty food-mix manufacturing and distributing company , New England Cupboard, from its former location at 54 Perry Road in Bangor. New England Cupboard produces Bakewell Cream, its own baking mixes, Winterport Company dips, and Jimbo’s Spice Rubs.
The bulk of the company’s sales are wholesale, with New England Cupboard products bought by such outfits as Hannaford, Shaw’s, and King Arthur Flour. Collins also does quite a bit of private labeling, taking his mixes and putting other companies’ labels on them.
The move took place the second week of July, after Collins made more than $100,000 worth of renovations over 2½ months, including lowered ceilings, installing high-efficiency lighting and propane heating, and building handicap-accessible bathrooms.
“We created a lot of back stock for when the machinery would be down during the move,” he said. “We’re back to full capacity at this point.”
Collins went from 2,400 to 5,400 square feet of space: “We were running out of space at my old location,” he explained. “It was just too small.”
The larger space will enable Collins to have separate manufacturing areas for regular and gluten-free products, each with their own heating and ventilation systems. Now through the holidays is the company’s busiest time, but after that, he plans to make a push on a gluten-free line.
He also hopes to expand his product line; recent additions include whoopie-pie, waffle, biscotti and garlic biscuit mixes.
“I put in a new test kitchen, so I can start experimenting with new products,” Collins said.
Although Collins has always received about 25 percent of his sales through his Web site, www.newenglandcupboard.com, he hopes to improve in that area with a small display area for the public in the entryway of his new building.
“We’ve never been open to the public before,” he said. “Now it’s going to be by appointment.”
In the past, Collins has had a list of on-call workers, who helped him during manufacturing pushes. Now he’s planning to expand his staff as well.
“I’ll hire some full-time people, so I can do more sales and more testing to expand the product lines,” he said.
One thing won’t change at New England Cupboard: “We still manufacture everything from scratch,” Collins said. “We buy ingredients in bulk and mix it all up. We use as many Maine ingredients as possible.”
For more information, email info@ www.newenglandcupboard.com or call 848-4900.