Baking up a fresh batch of success!
The smell of freshly baked bread greets you when the doors separating Fancy Pokket Corporation's office space from its production floor open. A gleaming stainless-steel production line draws the eye to hundreds of Greek pita breads emerging from the oven like soldiers on parade. Company president Mike Timani gingerly grabs one, the bread still swollen from the heat before it makes it way up the conveyor belt to cool.
While touring the plant, Timani explains the manufacturing process for pitas, bagels, tortillas, panini, and other baked goods. He stops for a second to admire golf-size balls of dough that are being dropped onto a conveyor belt before being pressed down into nine-inch tortillas. One line produces 12,000 bagels an hour while another makes 14,000 pitas an hour; the tortilla line makes 21,000 loaves an hour.
This highly automated process is a far cry from Fancy Pokket's debut in 1989, when Timani and three employees were producing pitas one at a time in a 1,000-square-foot facility. Twenty-three years and five expansions later (the latest one this spring added 7,000 square feet for a sanitation room and freezer space), Fancy Pokket is well established in the Atlantic Canadian and Quebec markets and also sells its products in Ontario. Its central location in Moncton made it ideal to service those markets from a transportation point of view.
Currently, the 43,000-square-foot plant only works at 30% capacity with 53 employees. Timani would like to increase capacity, eventually add another shift, and double his employees in the next three to four years. He's looking into expanding to the U.S. market by the end of next year and, to overcome the "buy American" movement, plans to open a plant in the southern U.S. in a few years. That facility would specialize in different products, such as gluten-free baked goods, and its presence in the American market would pave the way for Fancy Pokket's other products made in Moncton.
"I'm a really high risk taker, but they're always calculated risks," says Timani. "If you don't take risks and if you aren't big enough, you won't survive."
Moncton Industrial Park was launched in 1960. The building housing Fancy Pokket was originally built in the 1970's in what was then a new section of the park. Originally housing a carpet company, todays items like pita bread and tortillas are a long way from that earlier use. With its various expansions, and with the mezzanines and equipment on the inside it is hard to recognize. Situated on St. George Blvd., the prime entrance to the park, Fancy Pokket is hard to miss.
The preceding article was extracted from a special supplement on Moncton and its industrial parks in the June issue of Progress Magazine. Download a copy below.
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