Gloversville microbrewery takes shape 

Microbrewery to open in Gloversville: From left, Matt Sherman, Nick Sherman and Casey Oare, the brains and muscle behind Stump City Brewing. PHOTOGRAPHER: DANIEL FITZSIMMONS

Microbrewery to open in Gloversville: From left, Matt Sherman, Nick Sherman and Casey Oare, the brains and muscle behind Stump City Brewing. PHOTOGRAPHER: DANIEL FITZSIMMONS

Originally published in The Daily Gazette

By Daniel Fitzsimmons, December 18, 2016

For brothers Matt and Nick Sherman, along with their childhood friend, Casey Oare, nearly every weekend for the past three years has been spent building a shared dream conceived nearly six years ago in the Shermans’ garage: to open a brewery together that Gloversville could call its own.

Standing in the now-functioning brewery and taproom recently, which lacked only the finishing touches, the trio — and Stump City Brewing — have come a long way from the garage where they experimented with different homebrew recipes and fantasized about doing something bigger.

“Our motto is ‘from the ground up,’” said Matt Sherman, 34, a reference to the do it yourself-ethos that informs nearly everything they do, from building the structure that houses the brewery and taproom themselves to slogging through the mountains of state and federal paperwork required to operate a brewery.

The other defining feature of Stump City Brewing is their devotion to Gloversville and the surrounding area, and their drive to source everything — from the ingredients in their beer to construction materials — locally.

The bar in the taproom is made from the trees that were cleared to make way for their building. The ceiling is lined with corrugated sheet metal, giving it a rustic look, that a friend had stockpiled and given them. The plank floor is made of reclaimed wood from a nearby house that was gutted.

The project took three years’ worth of weekends because all three men have day jobs. Matt Sherman is a school counselor, Nick Sherman sells bus parts, and Oare is a paramedic and firefighter. Weekends were all spent bringing the dream to life.

Stump City is also taking advantage of New York’s farm brewing law, which provides incentives like decreased permitting requirements to New York-based brewers in exchange for the brewers sourcing a portion of their ingredients inside the state. The purpose of the law is to spur hop and grain production in the state and increase demand for local products.

Under the farm brewery law, at least 20 percent of the brewery’s hops must come from inside the state, and 20 percent of all other ingredients must be native to New York. Those ratios increase to 90 percent each in 2024.

But the Shermans and Oare are already there, sourcing 90 percent of their grain bill from a farm outside Rochester, and all of their hops — for now — from Goddard Tree Farm in Johnstown. Nick Sherman, 30, said there’s a need for increased hop and grain production in the state, which is ideal for growing such crops.

“It’s just a matter of convincing these farmers that there’s money to be made in growing those crops,” said Nick Sherman. “The startup costs are high.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, their name is local too. Before the area was called Gloversville it was known as “Stump City,” after all the trees that had been cut down to supply bark for the leather tanning process.

The brewery is located on West Fulton Street extension, behind the Sherman family home on land donated by the Shermans’ dad, Jerry Sherman, who is also a partner in the brewery and provided funds to help get the project off the ground.

“We grew up playing in these woods,” said Nick Sherman, looking out the back door of the brewery.

About $13,000 in additional funds was raised through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which Matt Sherman said was crucial to the finishing of the brewery.
“Without the Indiegogo this wouldn’t have happened,” he said, noting that contributors, depending on how much they donated, will receive perks like Stump City clothing and gear or even the chance to brew an original beer.

And while other crowdfunding campaigns might draw donations from around the world, virtually all of the donations made to Stump City were from friends, relatives and others within the group’s orbit.

“I don’t think there’s one donor we don’t know,” said Matt Sherman. “The support in the community has been huge.”

“We all grew up here,” said Casey Oare, 31. “And for the people who stayed there’s a certain amount of pride being from the area, and we want to be a part of that.”

The group’s goal is to sell beer in their taproom and at local beverage centers where people can fill up their growlers — large, reusable glass containers used to store beer for personal use — with Stump City beer. Eventually they’d like for the brewery to support one of them as a full-time employee, and from there start increasing capacity, which currently stands at around 31 gallons per batch.

They currently have three brews that will be in regular rotation at the taproom; their Cayadutta Cream Ale, which they said is a good entry point to craft beer, a pale ale and a red ale.

Oare said there’s lots of buzz around when the taproom will open, and that he gets questioned by local residents on when they’ll be able to come in for a beer.
“Everybody wants to know when we’re opening,” Oare said.

The group said they want to do a soft opening for family, friends and supporters in the coming weeks, and open the taproom to the general public in the spring.
But they’re in no rush. The Shermans and Oare take a lot of pride in the beer they make, their local roots, and building something that those in Gloversville and the surrounding area can take a measure of ownership in.

“We want to make people proud,” said Matt Sherman. “We want people to be able to say, ‘that’s my beer.’”

Tryon Technology Park

Fulton County, New York, introduces Tryon Technology Park, a transformative, 515-acre business opportunity in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. With Tryon’s state and local expedited approval process, you could be breaking ground on 212-acres of the lowest-priced shovel-ready land in the state in 30 to 60 days, with hundreds of additional acres available for future development.

Tryon is located in a pristine, wooded environment… where a company can thrive, take a 180 turn away from a high-cost, high-stress environment.

Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead: “One thing people are starting to learn about the Tryon Technology Park is it’s right in New York’s Technology Triangle, and it’s within striking distance and easy reach of 70 million customers all around the Northeast.”

Fulton County’s Targeted Industry Analysis identified seven Industry Clusters for Tryon compatible with existing businesses and the site’s resources: Biomedical R&D, Food & Beverage, Headquarters & Business Services, Health Care Products & Services, Electronics, Renewable Energy and Software & Media.

Tryon Technology Park’s first tenant was Vireo Health, which purchased 20 acres in 2015 to manufacture pharmaceuticals from cannabis. In less than a year, it doubled the size of its facility.

Josh O’Neill, Vireo Health, Chief Business Development Officer: “When you look at the value of the land, with all the infrastructure in place, we could not find anything better in the state of New York. It’s highly accessible from I-90 and other major highways. It’s got great infrastructure. There’s new water and sewer, gas, three-phase power and a new county road that’s well-maintained year-round.”

Jim Mraz, Fulton County Planning Director and Executive Director, Fulton County Industrial Development Agency:
“The property at Tryon is also very affordable. At a $20,000 per an acre price, it is the lowest price per acre of comparable land anywhere in the region.”

The origins of Tryon are a unique story of cooperation by state and local governments. When the state closed the Tryon Juvenile Detention Facility in 2011, it was an economic blow to Fulton County.

In an effort to turn that negative into a positive, Fulton County officials petitioned the state for control of the property. Two years later, Tryon was deeded over to the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency for redevelopment as a technology park.

Josh O’Neill, Vireo Health, Chief Business Development Officer: “It’s a beautiful place. A really great community. I feel like Fulton County as a whole has been very welcoming to our business and the people who have moved here from other states, they’ve found it to be a really high quality of life. They’ve found good, affordable housing. The feedback on the schools has been very positive. We’ve got a lot of young families on our team and for them to locate to Fulton County from other states was a big step for them and it’s been an extremely positive experience.”

At the center of the park is the Tryon Regional Business Training and Incubator Center, adding training, classroom, office and workshop space for businesses to utilize. Tryon also has the benefit of being geographically close to its partner in training and workforce development, Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Dr. Dustin Swanger, President, Fulton-Montgomery Community College: “FM has a long history of strong workforce development programs and customizing programs for local businesses, like Benjamin Moore and Townsend Leather.”

Tim Beckett, senior vice president, Townsend Leather:
“We continually rely on them for training, customized classes, and working with our people to help further our staff in growth here in the area.
Fulton County as a whole, any time we’ve needed anything, in terms of economic growth or sustaining our workforce or bringing in new business, they’ve been a good person to rely on and go to for grants, money, even locations and building and equipment.”

Fulton County hosts a vibrant array of biomedical manufacturers, global food processors and light manufacturing companies in three existing business parks. Adding Tryon to that portfolio creates unparalleled advantages for companies searching for an inviting, centrally located home with plug and play infrastructure.

Contact us today to find out more about Tryon Technology Park.
Fulton County New York – Positive.

Fulton County working to rebuild local economy: Times Union

Officials market low costs, infrastructure to attract companies, people

 By Robert Downen, Originally published in the Albany Times Union

In their quest to reverse economic downturn, Fulton County officials are focusing on three words: Live, work and play.

By 2026, they hope their county will attract residents who want to do all three.

Once the epicenter of the upstate leather industry centered in Gloversville, Fulton County has steadily watched economic opportunities dwindle as niche manufacturing jobs go overseas.

Since 1970, the number of people directly and indirectly employed in the leather trades has dropped from 10,000 to 400, the U.S. Department of Labor said.

“These businesses employed towns,” Johnny Evers, director of government affairs at the Business Council of New York State, said at a seminar on Fulton County economic development Tuesday,

Now — and hopefully, with buy-in from local business leaders and elected officials — county officials are hoping they can transform the area into a hotbed of growth by attracting businesses and young people alike.

Boosters believe they have the resources both in infrastructure and human capital. The question is how to get people to use them.

The pitch is simple: Cheap cost of living, coupled with the factory buildings left over from the heyday of manufacturing, should make Fulton County immediately attractive to those seeking metropolitan amenities at a discounted rate.

“Upstate New York is a beautiful place to explore and enjoy, but in many areas the cost of living can be too high,” Jim Mraz, Fulton County planning director, said in August. “In Fulton County, that’s not the case, and that’s something we’re proud of.”

Add in a low crime rate, a new focus on regional partnerships and the county’s location in the middle of myriad nature destinations, and officials are confident they “can establish Fulton County as one of the Capital Region’s premier economic and residential destinations,” said Charles Potter, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors.

Since undertaking the development initiative called Jump Start Fulton County in 2014, officials have focused heavily on luring new businesses and young workers to shovel-ready sites.

Fulton and Montgomery counties at that time brought in Mike Mullis, a corporate site selector, to assess the region’s ability to attract large corporations. Mullis identified seven clusters on which the counties should focus, with biomedical research and development, food and beverage services and health care products among them.

By reorienting towards such high-tech sectors, officials hope they can use their location in the middle of what they’re calling the “Tech Triangle” of New York as a selling point. (Both Utica and the Capital Region tout significant biotechnology sectors, and Albany was rated last week as the most friendly place to do business in New York by Forbes).

A cornerstone of that strategy is the Tryon Technology Park in Perth. The 515-acre park, once occupied by the now-shuttered Tryon Detention Center, has been the focus of the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency. Last year it moved in its first tenant, medical marijuana company Vireo Health.

“In the greater Capital Region, there’s a tremendous amount of human capital,” Vireo CEO Ari Hoffnung said in September. “There’s a lot of talent.

“We want to bring back more (than the 325 jobs) that were lost (at Tryon).”

County officials are also banking on growing agricultural industries statewide.

Since 2000, gross domestic product from upstate New York’s dairy sector has increased by more than 38 percent, to more than $600 million, according to the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.

In this region alone, international yogurt makers Fage and Chobani have created more than 1,650 jobs, making New York the No. 1 yogurt manufacturing state in the country.

rdownen@timesunion.com • 518-454-5018 • @Robert_Downen

Big plans for Tryon Technology Park

Fulton County officials have big plans for Tryon Technology Park

Fulton County marketing Tryon Technology Park

September 22, 2016

PERTH – The 515-acre Tryon Technology Park is in its infancy, but Fulton County officials have big plans for its future.

County Planning Director James Mraz on Wednesday led area media on a tour of the County Highway 107 facility, which used to be the state’s Tryon Youth Detention Facility. Now, as Mraz explained, the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency has taken ownership and is working closely with county government to create developable land and prepare the park for businesses.

“We are currently actively marketing Tryon,” Mraz said.

Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz shows a building that will be reused at the Tryon Technology Park during a tour Wednesday. The Midas-sponsored shop serviced vehicles at the state’s former Tryon youth detention center. The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich

Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz shows a building that will be reused at the Tryon Technology Park during a tour Wednesday. The Midas-sponsored shop serviced vehicles at the state’s former Tryon youth detention center. The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich

Officials say they hope the Tryon Technology Park becomes a new home for high-tech companies.

The Tryon facility and its future growth is part of a larger Fulton County economic development strategy aimed at bringing more jobs into the area to reduce the local property tax burden.

Mraz, also the IDA’s executive director, said the Fulton County Demolition Team this summer took down an old building on the Tryon campus and is now razing five more for the creation of more than 100 acres of prime developable land.

“That work is ongoing,” he said.

The overall Tryon plan is to at least replace jobs lost when the youth detention facility closed in 2011.

“We’re off to that start,” Mraz said of new job creation.

The technology park currently has one tenant – medical marijuana manufacturer Vireo Health. The company has 20 employees.

Various sections of the park will be divided into pockets of what Mraz calls “shovel-ready land.” There are 51.5 acres of such land off the park’s newly created County Highway 117, another 118 acres of land will be shovel-ready in an area to the east of the park bordered by County Highways 107 and 158, and another 44 acres is planned to the northwest.

Many of the project sites among 260 acres will be around a loop in the center of the park.

A future development area of 57 acres is being studied for the northern part of the park.

The park already has water and sewer services, and a regional business training and incubator center is planned for an existing building.

Mraz said that after the IDA took ownership of Tryon in 2014, officials immediately concerned themselves with job creation.

The IDA also owns 30 acres across the road from the park entrance.

“We’re also willing to look at these other properties as commercial developments,” Mraz said. “That’s the vision.”

He said many ideas for job creation spun from a September 2013 two-day visit by international site selector Michael Mullis to Fulton and Montgomery counties. New Jersey-based DCG Corplan Consulting has also done a marketing plan and analysis for Tryon that identified clusters of potential jobs.

County officials are also working with engineering firm C.T. Male to reuse existing space at the Tryon campus. Money is available to bring the regional business training and incubator center to fruition through $185,000 in federal Northern Borders Regional Commission grant money, $50,000 from 2016 county budget funds, and $65,000 through the IDA.

The hope, Mraz says, is to eventually create jobs through big or small companies. He said Fulton County will find a way to accommodate companies now at Tryon if it has to.

Buildings at Tryon were built in the 1960s and 1970s. Some are structurally sound and some aren’t. Officials are looking at the former Midas building at Tryon for providing 16,000 square feet for start-up companies.

“This building is perfectly set up for this,” Mraz said.

The Midas-sponsored auto shop serviced vehicles at the state’s former detention facility.

Michael Anich can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

Fage gets NY thank you for doubling production in Johnstown

In a nod to the enormous investment the yogurt producer has made in Fulton County, Empire State Development Corp. has awarded $780,000 to Fage USA Dairy Industry to cover the costs of new machinery and equipment.Fage Yogurt silos in Johnstown, NY

In September, the 87-year-old Greek company completed a two-year, $82 million expansion of its yogurt factory in Johnstown, part of a plan to retain 160 existing jobs and create 130 new ones. The company is advertising for lab technicians, maintenance technicians, warehouse and field operators, and according to ESD, has already created 113 new positions.

FAGE is one of 28 yogurt manufacturers in New York, double the number in 2000. FAGE continues to ride on the growing popularity of Greek yogurt as it faces growing competition from other major players including Chobani and Alpina USA.

To keep pace, FAGE has invested $200 million in the City of Johnstown since the company began production there six years ago.

“It’s good news. Fage is a good corporate citizen of Fulton County and a good employer,” said Ron Peters, the president of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.

Yogurt plant’s wastewater helps power electrical grid

Maintenance supervisor James McMillan checks a waste water to energy generator at the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility Thursday Oct. 8, 2015 in Johnstown, NY. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union)

Maintenance supervisor James McMillan checks a waste water to energy generator at the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility Thursday Oct. 8, 2015 in Johnstown, NY. (John Carl D’Annibale / Times Union)

Yogurt plant’s wastewater helps power electrical grid

Fage provides a cultured energy resource

Times Union: NY yogurt industry uses clout

Read Story in Albany Times Union
Reprinted here with permission

NY yogurt industry, including Chobani, plays its D.C. cards

Chobani, other makers, have friends in high places in jobs move
By Dan Freedman, Times Union
Saturday, July 4, 2015

Excerpt:

And although Greek yogurt by itself isn’t enough to totally lift New York’s dairy industry out of the doldrums, its milk-intensive production process has given farmers and milk producers a needed cushion against the vagaries of supply and demand.

In the key period between 2008 and 2013, milk used to make yogurt in New York went from 158 million pounds to 1.2 billion pounds, a seven-fold increase. The state saw a 2 percent rise in milk production last year, and it went from being the nation’s No. 4 dairy state in 2012 to No. 3 today.

Washington

When Russia blocked delivery of creamy Chobani Greek yogurt to the Sochi Winter Olympics last year, both of New York’s senators swung into action.

Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand phoned anyone and everyone who could help free up the 5,000 single-serve containers in cold storage atNewark Liberty Airport in New Jersey.

“Chobani Yogurt is safe, nutritious and delicious and the Russian authorities should get past ‘nyet’ and let this prime sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team deliver their protein-packed food to our athletes and media workers,” Schumer said in a news release.

Yogurt factory worker upstate New York

(Brady Dillsworth/Bloomberg)

Ultimately, time ran out and the yogurt was donated to food banks in the New York metropolitan area. Schumer called it “a silver — or gold — lining.”

Although unsuccessful, the effort illustrated the appeal of upstate New York’s Greek yogurt industry in general, and Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya in particular, to Washington’s political world.

Practically unheard of a decade ago, Greek yogurt has taken the dairy-consumer world by storm, from about 2.5 percent of yogurt sales in 2008 to nearly 36 percent this year. And the bulk of the industry is in the upstate dairy belt. Among them: Chobani in South Edmeston, Chenango County; Fage in Johnstown, Fulton County, Muller Quaker Dairy in Batavia, Genesee County; and Buffalo-based Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., which markets as Upstate Farms.

For the state, Greek yogurt is more than just a success story. It’s a win-win tale of economic redemption, the industrial phoenix risen from the ashes of closed-down factories in small- and medium-sized towns and cities across the state.

From 2011 to 2014, the job count at New York’s dairy manufacturers rose by 1,500 to 9,570, according to data from the state Department of Labor. In the same time frame, overall manufacturing jobs in New York dropped by 1 percent. Chobani employs more than 1,000 at its plant and in an office suite in nearby Norwich.

And although Greek yogurt by itself isn’t enough to totally lift New York’s dairy industry out of the doldrums, its milk-intensive production process has given farmers and milk producers a needed cushion against the vagaries of supply and demand.

In the key period between 2008 and 2013, milk used to make yogurt in New York went from 158 million pounds to 1.2 billion pounds, a seven-fold increase. The state saw a 2 percent rise in milk production last year, and it went from being the nation’s No. 4 dairy state in 2012 to No. 3 today.

Ulukaya’s own story embodies the entire industry’s aspirations, and goes a long way toward explaining the 43-year-old Chobani founder’s appeal to political figures.

Yogurt truck at milk tanks, upstate New York

Heather Ainsworth/The New York Times)

An ethnically Kurdish immigrant from Eastern Turkey, Ulukaya arrived in the U.S. in 1994 with little other than ambition to live the American dream and memories of the thick, delicious yogurt he grew up eating. In 2005, he received a junk mail flier advertising sale of a closed Kraft yogurt plant in the South Edmeston-New Berlin area. An $800,000 loan from the Small Business Administration’s Albany office helped him buy the plant in 2005 and he began testing and marketing his Greek-style yogurt.

He named it Chobani, Turkish for “shepherd,” and shipped the first batch to supermarkets in 2007. Five years later, Chobani was booking more than $1 billion in sales.

Suddenly, everyone wanted to get in on the act.

“This is a new day,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in convening a “yogurt summit” in Albany in 2012. One booster, state Farm Bureau President Dean Norton, said the “yogurt empire” was New York state agriculture’s answer to California’s Silicon Valley.

“It’s an astonishing story … it’s an amazing story … it’s breathtaking,” effused former President Bill Clinton during a 2013 Clinton Global Initiative panel discussion featuring Ulukaya.

In the discussion, Ulukaya extolled the virtues of starting up a manufacturing plant in small-town New York. “If you’re a start-up, you don’t have to be in a big city” like New York of San Francisco, he said. “You could be in small town and still be cool.”

worker inspecting yogurt containers in upstate New York

(Heather Ainsworth/The New York Times)

Workers in the South Edmeston-New Berlin area “are proud of the product they’re making,” he said. “They’re part of the story.” Chobani boasts of giving 10 percent of its profits to charitable causes and funding projects, from a local little league ball field to assistance for refugees from the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Andrew Novakovic, an agricultural economics professor at Cornell University who has studied Chobani and the Greek yogurt industry, said, “It’s a genuine American story that a Turkish-Kurdish immigrant could become rich selling Greek yogurt. The cultural ironies of that are amazing.”

With encouragement from Schumer and Gillibrand, Ulukaya and other New York Greek yogurt players entered the Washington fray in 2012. They wanted to get into the USDA’s $15 billion school lunch, breakfast and summer food programs.

But access to those programs is more than just a matter of a senator making a phone call to the secretary of agriculture. Federal regulations spell out a lengthy bureaucratic process for gaining admission.

Ulukaya and Chobani took the lead, enlisting a lobbying firm, Cornerstone Government, and the National Yogurt Association to help them through the technicalities. Agriculture experts on the staffs of Gillibrand and Schumer pitched in as well.

Collectively, they helped Chobani and the industry as a whole navigate through requirements such as getting a “Commercial Item Description” for yogurt.

Ultimately, the process yielded an 11-page document that doesn’t include the word “Greek” but does specify a “high-protein” style that is “strained” —a reference to Greek yogurt’s process, which requires 3 pounds of milk for every pound of yogurt, which is triple the ratio for regular yogurt.

As chronicled in Schumer’s news releases, the USDA in 2013 committed to a pilot program in New York and three other states to testing Greek yogurt’s acceptance in subsidized school-meal programs.

In 2014, USDA expanded the pilot to a total of 12 states. In April, it announced Greek yogurt would be an option for schools nationwide.

Schumer and Gillibrand are accustomed to advocating for New York businesses. But each said that Greek yogurt represented a special case of a nutritious product gaining wide acceptance and bringing employment to economically depressed portions of upstate, as well as a lifeline to dairy farmers.

“When Greek yogurt first appeared, I said to myself, ‘This is an opportunity to help dairy,'” Schumer said. “I met with the heads of Fage and Chobani and said, ‘What (can) I do to help?'”

yogurt factory production line worker

(Brady Dillsworth/Bloomberg)

Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee who’s well-versed in the intricacies of dairy, said the Greek yogurt story appealed to her as the mother of two young children.

Gillibrand said her oldest child, 11-year-old Theo, takes a Chobani serving to school as part of lunch; she stocks it in her Senate office refrigerator.

“If you travel across upstate, you’ll see we’ve lost a lot of small dairies over past decade,” she said. “This is one answer to that reduction. Greek yogurt is very much a symbol of ‘Made in America.'”

Not all of Greek yogurt’s attempts to penetrate Washington’s walls have been successful. The two senators plus the Yogurt Association and Cornerstone have worked on getting USDA to recognize Greek yogurt’s protein boost and give it more generous crediting toward fulfillment of the school programs’ nutrition requirements.

The formula is complicated, but with a “crediting standard” adjustment to reflect its higher protein content compared to traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt would prove to be more affordable for school food service managers.

So far, the USDA has turned them down.

In a letter to Gillibrand last year, the USDA said giving Greek yogurt extra credit for higher protein would be “inconsistent” with crediting “similar foods in a uniform manner” — in other words: If they do it for one, they’d have to do it for all.

For Chobani, access to USDA school meal programs so far has not been hugely profitable.

“We did not put it through the lens of profit and loss, black and white, like a big food company would do,” said Peter McGuinness, chief marketing officer for Chobani. “We looked at it as the right thing to do for kids in America.”

By some accounts, Chobani has become the victim of its own success. Industry titans like Dannon and Yoplait have responded with Greek yogurts of their own, diminishing Chobani’s market domination.

Chobani got financing from a private equity fund that, according to some news reports, was pressuring Ulukaya to step aside for a new CEO more accustomed to running a worldwide operation.

McGuinness dismissed the stories and said, “Our best days are yet to come.”

Chobani’s growth is up year-by-year and its curve this year is ahead of projections, he said. The company plans to unveil 15 new products in the next two weeks.

Ulukaya “remains and will continue to be chairman and CEO,” McGuinness added.

According to lobbying disclosure reports on file on Capitol Hill, Chobani since 2012 has spent $420,000 on Cornerstone, which bills itself as a bipartisan firm whose lobbyists have deep experience in federal agencies and congressional offices.

But just last month, Chobani abruptly severed its ties with Cornerstone.

“While we are disappointed to no longer be representing Chobani, the Cornerstone team, in addition to thoroughly enjoying the consumption of Chobani’s fine products over the last three years, is proud of our work assisting the company in advancing their public policy goals,” said lead Cornerstone lobbyist Jim Richards, who previously served in the USDA during the George W. Bush administration and worked for Republican chairmen of the House Appropriations agriculture subcommittee.

Renovating the Lobby

Since 2013, Chobani also has spent $90,000 on Liz Robbins Associates, whose namesake is a veteran lobbyist best known for her close ties to the Clintons. Robbins has donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation and accompanied Bill and Chelsea Clinton on a nine-day trip in April to Africa.

The Clintons have been guests at Robbins’ home in East Hampton on Long Island, and Bill and Hillary Clinton gave Robbins hugs at a 2013 SeriousFun Children’s Network event honoring her.

It is not clear what, if any, lobbying work Robbins has done for Chobani. A log of Gillibrand’s visitors in Washington shows a 2013 meeting with Chobani CFO Jim McConeghy, in which Cornerstone’s Richards also participated. The same log yielded no comparable meeting involving Robbins.

Robbins did not respond to interview requests.

Asked whether hiring Robbins was a way to maintain relations with the Clintons, McGuinness said, “There’s no connection there.”

But others in New York’s political circles say ultimately that link could prove beneficial.

“What smarter move is there than hiring someone close to the Clintons?” said Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran lobbyist and political consultant based in New York City.

“Being effective requires relationships and she has the one the company will need should Secretary Clinton become president.”

dan@hearstdc.com • @danfreedma

 

Spring Water Bottler CG Roxane Opens Crystal Geyser Plant in Johnstown, NY

CG Roxane Joins Growing Ranks of Food Processing Companies in New York’s Fulton and Montgomery Counties

Crystal Geyser’s Johnstown plant can be reached by calling 518-736-1979

Crystal Geyser water bottling plant in Johnstown NY

This summer CG Roxane company began bottling and shipping “Crystal Geyser® Alpine Spring Water®” in a 176,757 square foot bottling plant in Johnstown, NY.

CG Roxane’s state-of-the-art bottling operation is a welcome addition to the economic development of the Montgomery and Fulton County region. Under a Lease and Water Purchase Agreement with the Village of Canajoharie in Montgomery County, the company can presently draw up to 310,000 gpd Crystal Geyser logoof spring water from the Village watershed, which is located in the Town of Ephratah . The company was attracted to the region after Beech-Nut closed its plant in Canajoharie in 2010 and moved into a facility elsewhere in Montgomery County.

San Francisco-based CG Roxane was founded in 1990 and exclusively markets and sells “spring water” bottled at the source under the Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water brand. CG Roxane is majority owned and controlled by a family that has been bottling water and other beverages in Europe for over 50 years. In addition to the Johnstown bottling plant, C.G. Roxane owns and operates U.S. six other water bottling plants in Moultonborough, NH, Salem, SC, Benton, TN, Norman, AR, Mt. Shasta, CA, and Olancha, CA.

In the U.S., “spring water” is mandated to meet the strict definition provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which requires that groundwater meeting the definition of “spring water,” be derived from an underground formation that flows naturally to the surface, while still maintaining flow at the surface through the natural orifice that comprises the spring.

Interior of Cystal Geyser plant

Interior of Crystal Geyser Plant

 

 

 

 

 

In this phase of its operation,CG Roxane’s Johnstown bottling plant is operating one shift and employing 12 people. A second and third shift will ultimately bring the total employment to 40. Eventually, the company may add a second production line, which would require constructing a 65,545 square foot addition.

The plant occupies a 40-acre site on Watershed Road off of NYS Route 29. The company also installed 7,426+ linear feet of waterlines and fiber optic cable in a trench to bring water from two spring boreholes to the water bottling plant.

Said Director of Development Gilles Romet, “The clean and protected water resources available in this region are exactly what we need to meet growing demand for  CG Roxane Spring bottled water. This is an outstanding location from which to serve northeastern U.S. markets.”

Crystal Geyser’s Johnstown plant can be reached by calling 518-736-1979

Upstate New York Dairy Products Industry Thrives with Greek Yogurt Boom

August 20, 2013 – (Johnstown, NY)
Dairy product manufacturing has become a Tier 1 industry for New York State’s upstate counties. It all began in centrally-located Fulton County, where international yogurt maker FAGE and nearby Chobani together have created more than 1650 jobs and helped to make New York the #1 yogurt manufacturing state in the country.

Cows in Fulton County NY

Among the big winners is the upstate dairy industry, which employs 3500 workers and contributes almost $600 million in gross domestic product, a 38% jump since 2000. Where downstate dairy production is used for largely milk production, most of the upstate milk produced is used for yogurt and cheese production in plants spreading from Fulton County, NY across the Mohawk Valley to the west.

Support for Dairy Product Growth
New construction and serious expansion of dozens of yogurt processing plants all across upstate New York have provided a windfall for a dairy industry that had been in decline in the last century. Northeast Dairy Foods Association estimates the increased amount of milk required at 4 billion pounds per year, an increase equal to 20 percent of New York’s current yearly milk production.

The upstate dairy industry is made up of hundreds of family-owned farms with herds of 200 to 300 cattle. While the region’s topology doesn’t support the mega-farms found in Western states, milk producers are nevertheless drawn to the region because of the dairy farmers’ proximity to major metropolitan centers, great transportation infrastructure, and fertile waterways.Fage Yogurt 19

Fulton County was the first to invest in creation of a major wastewater treatment plant to transform FAGE’s yogurt manufacturing byproduct, whey, into combustive fuel. FAGE is now expanding that 1.5 million gallon tank to support the doubling of its manufacturing capacity.

State grants of up to $2 million per installation are now available to individual farms or farm collaboratives to build their own anaerobic digesters, helping farmers transform dairy waste into usable fuel on their own farms. Some environmental regulations have been relaxed to permit farmers to enlarge their herds to 300 head. A new Dairy Acceleration Program provides grants and assistance to help farmers run their farms more profitably. And extensive research and training resources are available to the dairy industry through universities, state, and federal agencies.

Attracting More Food Processing Clusters

Cover Page of Yogurt Report

The end result is a major economic development win for the entire region. Joining market leaders Chobani and Fage have been followed by many smaller manufacturers, and this summer a joint venture of PepsiCo and Germany’s Theo Muller company began making yogurt products in Western New York.

Now the US Department of Agriculture is adding a new outlet for Greek yogurt sales with its recent solicitation for bids to supply Greek yogurt for school lunches across New York State this September.

While it began with the insatiable demand for Greek-style yogurt, other food industries have taken note and food-processing-clusters are sprouting up across the region. For a report on the growth of the Greek yogurt industry in the region, visit http://www.nado.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/yogurt.pdf.

Dairy Foods Manufacturer FAGE USA Expands Manufacturing Operations in Johnstown, NY

FAGE Yogurt

Fage Yogurt is produced and packaged in Johnstown, NY in Fulton County.

Americans love authentic Greek-style yogurt. Ever since FAGE USA introduced it in 1998, keeping up with demand has been a constant challenge.

The original 110,000 FAGE USA factory sited in Johnstown, NY in 2005 was already much bigger than envisioned when plans were first filed in the mid-2000s. And the plant had no sooner opened than the company was adding milk silos (2008), warehouse space (2009), dry good storage space (2010), and cooler space (2011).

Today FAGE USA is the 4th largest yogurt brand in the U.S. From its Fulton County plant, it produces and ships across the U.S. 60,000 tons of its Total and new Fruitio brands of yogurt per year.

And FAGE is again on the march.  The company is investing over $100 million in a major plant expansion and another $20 million in a pre-treatment whey facility. The expansion will double the company’s current production by next year to 160,000 tons. FAGE will also add another 150 employees to its current workforce of 250.

Explained director of marketing Russell Evans, “Americans are continuing to shift from traditional American-style yogurt to authentic all-natural products like FAGE Total. We at FAGE see ourselves continuing to lead this growth. This plant is a major investment and we’re excited about the future here in the U.S.”

FAGE first entered the U.S. market shipping its authentic Greek yogurt into New York City by air. It quickly became a viral hit with New Yorkers, who spread the word. As reception grew across the nation, FAGE sought a local location for its U.S. operations.

According to Mr. Evans, the selection of Fulton County in upstate New York was heavily influenced by the abundant dairy supply in Fulton and surrounding counties and by the available infrastructure.

“We chose New York’s Fulton County to build our U.S. plant because it’s close to a ready supply of fresh milk and has a strong transportation infrastructure,” explained Mr. Evans. “It’s close to where we started back in 1998; it was a natural extension for us to stay within New York State and establish FAGE USA Corporation in Fulton County. We also found the local government and agencies to be very supportive.”

FAGE sells branded dairy products, including yogurt and dairy desserts, milk and milk creams, and cheese. These products are produced and sold in Greece and the United States, and exported from Greece to 29 other markets globally, including the United Kingdom and Italy.