Posted June 2006
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee -- McKee Foods Corporation officials have announced an expansion of the company’s Apison Plant in Collegedale, a move that will create at least 175 new jobs and amount to an investment of over $50 million.
The expansion, which will double the size of the plant, will create good-paying jobs for Hamilton County, officials said.
Jack McKee, the company’s chief executive officer, says the Apison Plant expansion will house production lines to increase capacity and provide for new products.
"We could have built the expansion in another state where we already have a similar operation," he says. "We chose Collegedale for several reasons including the strong labor market, the central location to the market we want to serve, and the fact that the Chattanooga area has been a great place to do business ever since my parents opened their first bakery in Chattanooga in 1934."
McKee Foods has more than 3,100 employees in this area and annual sales of more than $1 billion.
"McKee Foods is a Tennessee success story that has become an American treasure," said Governor Phil Bredesen. "With its long-held reputation for integrity and quality, McKee Foods is an outstanding corporate citizen, and I’m very pleased to see the company’s success and growth bringing new jobs and investment to Collegedale."
Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey emphasized the number and quality of the jobs the expansion will bring. "One hundred and seventy-five more jobs for our community is very welcome news," Ramsey said. "And the fact that these are good-paying jobs is also good news for McKee employees and the prosperity of the community in general."
"McKee Foods stands as a cornerstone of one of our region’s primary industries – the food and beverage industry," said Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield. "That the company chose to expand here is indicative of the community’s business-friendly stance, the quality of our workforce and our robust local economy."
"McKee Foods has been a prominent member of the Collegedale business community for half a century," said Collegedale Mayor John Turner. "We are grateful for the company’s providing 3,100 local jobs and for its generous corporate philanthropy. We are pleased that the company’s success has resulted in this expansion that will bring even more benefit to our community and the entire region."
McKee Foods is best known for its line of Little Debbie brand snack cakes, America’s leading snack cake brand. The company also produces Sunbelt brand snacks and cereals; Heartland brand granola cereals, pie crusts and snack bars; and Blinks, a blend of chips and cereal billed as "breakfast in a bag."
"McKee Foods has been a part of Tennessee’s economic fiber for nearly 75 years," said Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matthew Kisber. "We are proud to have one of the nation’s most respected and successful companies call Tennessee home and continue to grow and create jobs here."
"An important part of the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s mission is to provide transportation facilities that enhance the economic growth of our state and bring jobs to Tennesseans," said Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "This is the kind of project where we are able to help make that happen and I’m pleased that we could help."
"When one of the country’s leading food product manufacturers chooses to double the size of one of its plants here, the message to other companies rings out loud and clear: the Chattanooga area is a great place to do business and is worthy of serious consideration as a site for a new project or an expansion," said Trevor Hamilton, Chief Economic Development Officer for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce."
Since founder O.D. McKee opened a bakery in Chattanooga in 1934, McKee Foods has grown from a three-person bakery to a group of companies employing over 6,300 people and enjoying annual sales in excess of $1 billion.
McKee products are available across the U.S., in Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, and on U.S. military bases around the world.
In 1956, McKee Foods moved from Chattanooga to neighboring Collegedale. Once the company launched the Little Debbie® line of snacks in 1960, it wasn’t long until McKee Foods needed additional facilities. The privately held, family-run business has expanded in Collegedale for many years, and recently acquired a facility in Chattanooga.
McKee Foods also has manufacturing facilities in Gentry, AR, and Stuarts Draft, VA, and a distribution center in Kingman, AZ.