Posted: May 16, 2014, 9:00 a.m. EDT
By Clay Jackson
The principals who run Hillside Farms, a pet treat brand owned by Globalinx Pet LLC, revealed expansion plans for the latter part of 2014 that will take the brand in unprecedented directions.
Hillside Farms has embarked on three major growth initiatives:
•The Globalinx name will fade into the past as the company rebrands itself as Hillside Farms.
Its other pet treat brands, such as One Rewards, Kingdom Pets and Benni & Penni, will retain their identities but under the auspices of Hillside’s corporate umbrella. And Hillside Farms will become the company’s signature line of pet treats.
•To date, all of Hillside Farms’ production has been offshore at facilities based in Yangai, China, but Hillside plans to open its first-ever U.S. processing, production and packaging plant in Southern California by the fourth quarter of 2014.
•From the new factory, Hillside expects to launch its first made-in-USA product: a line of chicken jerky treats, American Authentics. In its eight-year history, Hillside has imported all of its pet treats from China.
If all goes according to plan, Hillside Farms will begin producing its first U.S.-made pet treats out of this production facility in Ontario, Calif., starting in October.
"We’re thrilled to be expanding our production capabilities here in the U.S. and Southern California,” said Steve King, vice president sales and marketing for Newport Beach, Calif.-based Hillside Farms.
"This new facility will allow us to expand the availability of our ... treats throughout North America,” he added.
Hillside Farms’ U.S. production will be based out of a 108,000-square-foot building in Ontario, Calif.–the total cost of the building and the renovation needed for the American Authentics launch is $20 million, according to King.
"To our knowledge, the factory will be the largest pet [treat] jerky production facility in the U.S. ... the facility will ultimately produce up to 60 truckloads of finished goods monthly,” King said.
"We wanted to build a U.S. facility capable of delivering the same premium ingredient, ‘lean meat’ treats, we have been supplying for years to our customers,” he said.
"We didn’t want to just slap a ‘made in the USA’ flag on the bag and launch an inferior quality product, or have to charge twice our normal price due to the increased expenses associated with domestic production,” King added.
Hillside is committed to keeping the quality of its U.S. treats high, said King, while leveraging its manufacturing experience and the best in available technology to keep overhead low.
King cites several reasons for why Hillside has decided to produce its chicken jerky pet treats domestically.
King said that meeting the needs of customers for U.S.-manufactured products is at the top of the list.
However, there are some other, more personal, reasons as well.
When asked why Hillside would choose to do business in California—with its double whammy of high taxes and excessive business regulations—King acknowledged Hillside did look outside the state at first.
"It simply came down to the fact that Southern California is our home, and although building this kind of facility is challenging, it was important that we find a way to build this plant and support the communities where we live,” King said.
When Hillside’s Ontario pet treat plant is running on all cylinders, it is expected to add 60 new jobs to the economy—good news for California.
Hillside will continue to import its other treat lines from China and its corporate functions will remain in Newport Beach, Calif.
The American Authentics line has been in planning for a few years, King said. "The challenge had been finding the manufacturing capacity that could meet our needs, both from a quality and volume standpoint.”
"We finally determined that our best course was to start with a clean sheet of paper and build our own facility to make the product,” King said.
"We’ve sold more than 800 million treats
here in the U.S., and we believe that it was high time we had a facility here to meet this growing demand while at the same time supporting California business.”
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