Ocean Spray’s future Lehigh Valley plant manager discusses company

By LVEDC Staff on June 4, 2013

A few blocks from the Temple University campus, there’s a shop that goes by the name “Ed’s Beer Store.” Talk about straightforward business names.  Customers know what they are there to purchase and, if they have any complaints, to whom to speak.

Then there are companies that aren’t as direct in their name, but you know what you’re getting when you plunk down your coin.

Take Ocean Spray, for instance. This New England-headquartered company is well-known for its thirst-quenching, tasty cranberry drinks and snacks. It’s a highly successful company with a creative, non-descriptive name.

That was evident during a May 31st address given by Tim Haggerty, the future plant manager at the new Ocean Spray facility in Upper Macungie Township. Haggerty spoke at a meeting of the Allentown Rotary.

Haggerty didn’t play coy when describing to the lunchtime crowd at the Holiday Inn Allentown why Ocean Spray decided to splash down in the Lehigh Valley.

  1. Upgrading an existing facility in Bordentown, N.J. was cost prohibitive
  2. Lower taxes
  3. Lower utility rates
  4. Lower labor rates
  5. Lower transportation costs

“Bordentown is the oldest (of the company’s many facilities) and it really started to show its age,” Haggerty said. “The plant was just past its prime. “

Recognizing it was essential to move, Haggerty noted that the New Jersey tax climate was indeed a “challenging” environment.

Collectively, the company’s tax, utility and labor rates make up almost 80 percent of the manufacturing cost of that facility.

Haggerty said it was time to look in another direction.

And with the company’s sights now set on the Lehigh Valley plant, Haggerty noted his expectations of any new employee who will work under the Ocean Spray banner.

“A good day’s work for a good day’s pay; project the brand and above all else, and a to-the-core belief that nothing that we do at the plant is worth getting hurt over.”

The fifth factor in the company’s move to the Lehigh Valley – transportation – also received some discussion.

“This particular facility will become the crown jewel for all of Ocean Spray,” Haggerty promised.

Haggerty is an expert when it comes to the tiny but might cranberry.

“I have learned more about cranberries than I ever envisioned,” said Haggerty, whose comment drew a smattering of chuckles from the crowd. “For example, there are only three fruits that are native to America that are commercially grown: the cranberry, the blueberry and the Concord Grape.”

Thirsting for some additional cranberry trivia?

“Just this past year, Ocean Spray growers harvested 5.5 million barrels of cranberries,” Haggerty noted. “…That means they harvested 550 MILLION pounds of berries.”

That will no doubt quench a lot of thirst in the Lehigh Valley.

Ocean Spray plans to open their 215,000-square-foot production facility on 44 acres before the end of the year. The company is investing $110 million in the facility and is expected to create about 165 positions.

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