SCHENECTADY — The local gourmet granola maker being ousted from its downtown Schenectady production facility has found a new home on Hamburg Street in Rotterdam.
Gatherer’s Granola founder and president Sandro Gerbini this week said his company will likely begin the relocation later this month.
The move became necessary in March when 388 Broadway, in which Gatherer’s currently leases 3,700 square feet, was earmarked to be expanded and leased entirely to county government for office space. The granola maker will need to move out for this to happen.
Highbridge Development owns both the Broadway building and Coldbrook Plaza at 2696 Hamburg St., where Gatherer’s will be moving. Having the same landlord at both ends is a great advantage, Gerbini said: The owner agreed to fit out the new space to match the needs of Gatherer’s Granola and not make it vacate the old space until the new space is ready.
“[Owner] John Roth and Highbridge are putting in a great deal of their own money to make this work for us,” Gerbini said. “John wanted to make sure he had the most competitive bid ... and we did a fairly exhaustive search in the Capital Region.”
He said he looked in Glenville and Schenectady and beyond for a new location.
Gerbini said he sees advantages in Coldbrook Plaza. Most notably, he’ll have about twice as much floor space, at about 7,500 square feet. This will allow him to put administration and production staff under the same roof for the first time since he was running a one-man operation out of his mother’s Delmar home. It also will allow room for planned sales growth.
Gatherer’s was founded in 2010 and moved to Schenectady in 2012 with one employee. It now has 14 people working the full-time equivalent of 8.5 employees, and hopes to double that by the year 2020.
It roasts, mixes and packages gourmet granola with nature-themed names such as Squirrel Bait, Badger’s Best and Turtle Tracks for sale online and at supermarkets, specialty food stores and farmers markets. Its retail partners are heavily concentrated in the greater Capital Region, but a handful are as far as Chicago; Burlington, Vermont; Boston; and New York City.
Gatherer’s produces hundreds of pounds of granola each day from similarly large stocks of ingredients: More than a half-ton of Adirondack maple syrup and up to 6,500 pounds of rolled oats per month, for example. For its Chipmunk’s Choice granola alone, it buys more than 200 pounds of peanut butter per month from The Peanut Principle.
One of the biggest tasks in the relocation will be moving the ovens, which is scheduled to happen June 25. Gerbini expects that to run $12,000, not a whole lot less than the cost of buying new ovens.
He said the cost is tempered by the assistance he’s getting from his landlord.
“The net result is that the Gatherer’s move is not going to bleed us dry,” he added.
Gatherer’s also will seek a grant, probably in the $90,000 range, from the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority. Metroplex awarded it a $7,500 grant in 2012 and the company has grown substantially since then.
Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said the second grant also would be conditional on further job creation. The agency does not often subsidize moves within Schenectady County, he added, but would in this case because it is a growing company that essentially was being evicted with limited notice to make way for a $9 million construction project that would benefit county government.
“We wanted to make sure the company stayed in the county,” he said. The Metroplex board probably will vote on the grant at its July meeting, he said.
Coldbrook Plaza was a Grand Union supermarket in a previous incarnation but now houses an eclectic mix of tenants: a veterinary practice, a martial arts dojo, a consignment shop and the county Board of Elections.
To make the space ready for a granola maker, Highbridge is upgrading the electric service, adding floor drains, coating the floors with an easy-clean non-slip epoxy and improving the climate-control system.
“It was a pretty substantial consideration from John [Roth] to get this place up to spec,” Gerbini said, and he is looking forward to working there.
“Having everybody under one roof will be a lovely change of pace.”