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Freshpet Discusses Company’s Rapid Growth at LVEDC Fall Signature Event

By Colin McEvoy on November 2, 2018

Freshpet, the healthy pet food manufacturer that has experienced rapid growth since coming to the Lehigh Valley five years ago, has announced new benefits for its growing workforce as well.

Billy Cyer, CEO of Freshpet, announced details about a newly-launched employee stock ownership program during the fourth annual Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) Fall Signature Event on Oct. 11.

“At Freshpet, we know that all of our team members contribute to our success and we believe they should all share in our success; that is the essence of true ownership,” Cyr said to a crowd of more than 100 people at the Blue Grillhouse in Bethlehem.

“We are committed to being a top employer in Lehigh Valley and a model for companies around the world for how to attract, retain, develop and reward the hard working people who are in the trenches and moving our company forward on a daily basis,” he said.

Each year, the LVEDC Fall Signature Event highlights spotlights an existing company in the Lehigh Valley that exemplifies a target sector of the regional economy, in this case food & beverage processing.

“We believe Freshpet will be the Mack Trucks of tomorrow,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President & CEO, referring to another company previously highlighted by the Fall Signature Event. “Freshpet is growing rapidly, and will one day be as well known as Mack Trucks is today.”

Beginning in 2019, all full-time hourly team members with a minimum of one year of service will be granted equity (restricted stock units) annually in Freshpet, Cyr said. This equity is in addition to their existing wages, benefits and performance incentives.

These benefits come as Freshpet is in the midst of its “Feed the Growth” initiative, which seeks to increase its sales figures and market presence by 2020. Freshpet is currently a $190 million company by revenue, and expects to reach $500 million by 2023, Cyr said.

In August, Freshpet announced plans to expand its manufacturing capacity at its campus in Hanover Township, Northampton County. The expansion includes the renovation of an existing 50,000 square foot building and a 90,000 square-foot addition.

The $100 million strategic capital investment is expected to create total capacity for approximately $540 million in net sales from the facility, Cyr said, making greater use of automation to improve quality, safety and reduce costs.

“We are the fastest growing pet food company in the U.S. and that is the result of the extraordinary efforts of so many of our teammates who demonstrate a commitment and passion for quality in all they do at Freshpet every day,” Cyr said. “We expect to continue growing quickly so the benefits of this ownership will grow along with our success.”

The expansion project is expected to create 100 new full-time jobs over the next three years, and up to a total of 200 new jobs once running at full capacity. Production start-up is expected to begin in the second half of 2020.

This is not the first time Freshpet has expanded its Hanover Township facility. In 2015, it broke ground on an expansion that doubled its capacity there. The following year, the company also opened a new research and development center in the township.

Food and beverage processing has been identified as one of the four optimal target industries for the Lehigh Valley based on the site-specific characteristics of the regional economy. The others are high-performance manufacturing, high value business services, and life science research & manufacturing.

Previous companies highlighted by the LVEDC Fall Signature Event include Mack Trucks, Crayola, and Victaulic.

This event was made possible in part through the generosity of our presenting sponsor, Highmark; our silver sponsor, Lehigh Valley Health Network; our cocktail sponsors, Baker Tilly and Klunk & Millan Advertising; and our community sponsor, Earthres.

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