European Company Chooses Fulton County for Entree into the North American Market
When Spanish meat manufacturer Espuña wanted to expand its operations to North America in 2015, it chose Gloversville, New York as the best place for that expansion.
In an unassuming building in the Gloversville Industrial Park, employees dry, cure, package, and ship all-natural, antibiotic- and nitrite-free delicacies like pancetta, beef bresaola, chorizo, and exotic products made from boar, duck, bison, truffles, and venison. Americans can find Espuña’s offerings, including “Tapas Essentials,” a line of ready to serve products specifically designed for the North American market, in specialty and high-end markets like Whole Foods and Fresh Market. The company is working on expanding its distribution to other supermarkets as well. Espuña has also manufactured charcuterie for Aldi, under the Aldi store brand name
The company has humble roots. In 1947, company founder Esteve Espuña began producing sausage using traditional recipes in his Olot farmhouse in the Catalan region of Spain. Since then, Espuña has become a household name in Europe, with a level of brand recognition comparable to America’s Boar’s Head brand meat. The company ships its signature cured hams worldwide.
Espuña acquired another meat manufacturer in 2016 and set up shop in its USDA-approved facility in Gloversville, infusing the business with several million dollars for modernization, expansion, and development. Espuña installed a new slicing line that can slice blocks of ham in a few seconds, as well as a new packing machine, among other equipment. “They expanded our production capacity by adding more modernizing equipment in the production room,” said plant manager Kyle Sullwold. Espuña entered a partnership with international companies to produce meat-based snack sticks, and configured and stocked the facility for maximum growth.
“There’s no shortage of people looking for work in the area.”
Espuña employees process 20,000 to 25,000 pounds of salami alone per week, which dries to about half that weight on wall to wall racks in the facility’s drying rooms. In addition to its own products, the company also processes meats from co-packers, including local farmers. “We’ve gotten it pretty much to the point where it’s at maximum capacity,” Sullwold said. “It’s an even mix to diversify the business,” he said.
Fulton County was a perfect place, because Espuña wanted to be near its major market, New York City and the surrounding areas. “To be able to place a manufacturing facility near our target market and have local distribution and carriers to bring our product to market with relative ease, it’s a big advantage,” Sullwold said.
Gloversville’s proximity to Canada, a four-hour drive with accessibility to international waters at the Port of Montreal, also contributed to the reason why Fulton County is an ideal location. Espuña imports a great deal of its pork from Canada and can bring in container shipments from Spain, which was essential when Espuña first opened in Gloversville. “Spain would feed us with container shipment after container shipment,” Sullwold said. Since then, though, due to the contacts he has made in the local community, that need has diminished. “We’ve had to import less and less,” he said.
“We have somewhere local, and we don’t have to invest in building a lab,”
He cites the example of a microbiology lab Espuña is able to rent from the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth. “We have somewhere local, and we don’t have to invest in building a lab,” Sullwold said. He also found a machine shop nearby that can repair Espuña’s machinery when necessary. “I could wait six weeks for a part from Germany, or take it down the road and see if he can fix it,” he said.
The networking between manufacturers makes business easier. “Manufacturing is strong in the county,” Sullwold said. “We’ve found that a lot of the connections that are formed between businesses beget more connections,” he said. For example, Espuña does not have its own trucks at the Gloversville facility, but through his contacts in the area, Sullwold was able to tap into the transportation network available to move Espuña’s products to its distribution networks all up and down the East Coast and in Miami.
Sullwold is easily able to find the labor force of 22 to 25 people he requires to run the plant. “There’s no shortage of people looking for work in the area,” he said, noting that he recently added a second shift for cleaning, sanitation, and organization. He had no problems finding people to work at night.
Espuña continues to increase production in its Gloversville manufacturing facility. For example, to serve the manufacturing requirements of a partnership it formed with two European families, Espuña acquired a meat smoker to produce a new line of snack sticks and meat loops from these families’ old world recipes, distributed under the brand name “Bigoes.”
More growth is on the horizon for Espuña’s Gloversville based North American operation. The company continues to build the partnerships that will facilitate westward expansion into new markets across the continent.